A Chronicle of the Lord’s Supper
December 6th, 1959 @ 7:30 PM
A CHRONICLE OF THE LORD’S SUPPER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-6-59 7:30 p.m.
Would you turn with me to Matthew, the first Gospel, chapter 26, Matthew chapter 26? And may all of us read together verses 14 through 30, Matthew 26:14-30? Now, let all of us read it together, you and your neighbor, all of us, Matthew 26:14-30:
Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
And from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.
Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto Him, Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the passover?
And He said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with My disciples.
And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.
Now when the even was come, He sat down with the twelve.
And as they did eat, He said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me.
And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto Him, Lord, is it I?
And He answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me.
The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
Then Judas, which betrayed Him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body.
And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
For this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.
And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives.
I thought I would do something tonight, because we are observing the Memorial Supper that I never have done before. Sometimes as I think about our services, I think maybe the simplicity of a thing I pass over because in my studying and in my thinking these things were part of my childhood education as I learned the Bible. Cannot remember when I first held it in my hands.
And yet, maybe, in some of the simplicities of this Gospel story might lie our greatest strength and its greatest appeal. So I am going to try and see tonight whether God blesses such a thing or not. It is my proposal tonight to take the simple story as it is recorded in the Gospels of our Lord, concerning our Lord, and follow that story in the last days of our Master’s life that led up to the institution of the Memorial Supper.
We shall begin in the later Perean ministry. Perea is the name of the country on the other side, on the eastern side, of the Jordan River. And in our Lord’s last journey to Jerusalem, He went down through Perea and across the Jordan, and so up to Jerusalem. And in Perea, as He was walking along with His disciples, in a certain unnamed village or city, there came running to Him in the way, openly, unashamed, the rich young ruler who bowed down in His presence, who knelt before the Lord, and asked how it was that he might inherit eternal life.
You cannot see the young fellow kneeling where everyone could observe and look upon him, and not be like the Master to admire him and love him; a youth who all the days of his life had followed in the commandments of the moral testimony of the law. And bold and courageous, however a whole world might think, he knelt in the presence of the Son of God, didaskale agathe, and Jesus said, "Agathe, none agathe but one, God." You cannot help but admire him, boldly, courageously, openly, for the world could see, bowing down before the Son of God.
Then the Lord continues His journey and crosses the Jordan River and so comes into the first town on the western side of the Jordan. Its name is Jericho, and as He enters the City of Jericho, there is a blind man, Bartimaeus, Bar "son," Timaeus, "the son of Timaeus," who calls out to Him, "Thou Son of David, O Son of David, have mercy on me." [Mark 10:46-47] And when those who stood by and heard him call, when they heard him in his insistence, they said, "He has not time for you. Be still. Be still." But nobody ever called on the name of the Son of God, however poor, however humble, however lowly, that God did not bow down His ear to hear. And the Lord stopped in His journey, and the blind man came before Him and received the gift of his sight from the healing hands of the Great Physician.
Then, as the Lord passed through the streets of the City of Jericho, He stopped at a sycamore tree and bid a publican, a tax gatherer, hated and despised, to come down, for that night, said the Son of Man, I am spending the evening with you. And so overwhelmed was the hated and despised publican at the kindness and generosity of the prophet of Nazareth; he became a disciple of the Lord, was converted and said, "From now on, the half of all that I possess will I give to the poor, and if I have wronged a man, I shall search him out and restore him fourfold." And the Lord replied, "Today is salvation come to this house." [Luke 19:1-9]
Then He spake to the people the parable of the pounds, and so made His way, finally, into Bethany. And on the Lord’s Day, on Sunday, in Bethany, they brought for Him an animal, the foal of an ass, and sat Him on it, and placing garments and palm trees in the way, our Lord made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. And the covenant day of all history came when the King from heaven offered Himself as the rightful Lord and Ruler to the chosen family and people of God.
On Sunday, the royal, triumphant entry of our Lord into the City of Jerusalem, then on Monday, He returned from Olivet to Jerusalem, from Bethany to Jerusalem, and on His way He cursed the fig tree, a sign of the destruction of the Jewish nation and the Jewish people. Instead of bringing forth fruit, instead of accepting their King, they brought forth nothing but leaves and rejected the Son of God, the Son of David, their rightful Lord and Messiah. He cursed the fig tree then entered into the temple, and for the second time He cleansed the temple. And while He was there the Greeks came, and they said, "We would see Jesus," which brought our Master once again face to face with the week of His passion:
Except a grain of corn fall into the ground and die, it abides alone,
But I, if I be lifted up from the earth, signifying by what death He should die, I will draw all men unto Me.
[John 12:24, 32-33]
Then on Tuesday, ah, what a day of conflict, Tuesday, our Lord returns again to the Temple, and as He enters the precincts of the Holy Place. He is immediately accosted by the Sanhedrin, and He is challenged by the elders of the Jewish people:
By what right do you do these things?
And our Lord says, I will answer your question if you will answer Mine. The baptism of John, was it from heaven or was it from men? Was it inspired of God or was it a man-made institution?
And the elders, as they discussed it, said, If we say his baptism was from heaven, then He will say, why did you not receive his testimony, for John gave testimony to Christ, that He is the Son of God. But if we say that John’s baptism was an institution of a man, that a man delivered it, the people will mob us, for all men received John the Baptist as a prophet.
And they said, We cannot answer.
And Jesus said, Neither will I answer your question.
Then the Pharisees and the Herodians gathered round Him and said, "This tribute money, is it right to give tribute to Caesar or not," thinking to catch Him for, if Jesus had said give tribute to Caesar, the whole nation would have hated Him. But if the Lord had said, do not give tribute to Caesar, then they would have arrested Him for insubordination and treason against the Roman Empire. And the Lord answered that matchless, incomparable reply, "To Caesar belong the things of Caesar, and to God belong the things of God." [Matthew 21:21]
Then the Sadducees gathered round Him, and they told Him that old, oft-repeated stock story of the resurrection, according to the Levitical, Levirate marriage, if a man did not have a son, lest his name die in the earth, his brother was to take his widow and raise up a son for his brother. And according to that stock story repeated a thousand times a thousand times and by which the Sadducees decimated those who said they believed in the resurrection of the dead.
They did not believe in the resurrection, they did not believe in the angels, they did not believe in the afterlife, they did not believe in any heaven, they did not believe in anything, not the Sadducees. All they believed in was their own place as the head of the nation and as the gatherer of the tribute money paid in the Temple. They gather around Jesus in their infidelity, and you can see them smile, and snicker, and wink to one another as they laid before Him the stock question, the resurrection, the resurrection.
There were seven brothers. One married, and he died. The second brother took his wife, and he died. The third brother took the wife, and he died, and so on, until all seven of the brethren have been married to that same woman, and all seven of them died. And last of all, the woman died. Now, in the resurrection, whose wife shall she be, for all seven had her? Ha, ha, ha. That ended it as far as the Sadducees were concerned. No man had ever been able to answer that stock story.
Our Lord looked into their infidelity and said, "In the resurrection, in the life and the glory that is yet to come, we are as the angels in glory, as Gabriel, as Michael, as all the other of the angels in heaven. We do not procreate in glory. There will be no new birth, no new babe, no new child in heaven. All of us shall be there, complete and holy and mature in heaven as the angels adore and live in the presence of God."
"But as concerning the resurrection, did you never read in the Holy Word where it said, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead but of the living." [Matthew 22:22-33] An amazing thing to the Sadducean infidelity.
Then a pharisaic lawyer asked Him a legal question, which is the great commandment in the law, thinking to trap Him into an endless discussion regarding the tedious minutiae of the commandments.
Then last of all, Jesus asked them a question," How is it that the psalmist David called his son Lord, in the great Psalm where David says, ‘The Lord said unto My Lord, Sit on My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool.’"
"The Lord," that is God, "said unto My Lord," that is, David’s son. Yet David is speaking it. How is it, says Jesus, that the Messiah is the Son of David, and yet David calls his own son, my Lord? God in heaven, the Lord Jehovah, said to my Lord, the Messiah, David’s Son, "Sit on My right hand, said the God in heaven, until I make Thine enemies My footstool." If the Messiah is David’s son, then how is it, asked Jesus, that David himself called his own son, my Lord? [Matthew 22:34-45] The answer to that to us is obvious, because the son of David is also the Son of God, a thing they were never willing to accept nor to admit or receive today.
Then the day closes with the awful invective to be found in the twenty-third chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. The most scathing denunciation in any language, in any literature, in any book, on any leaf of any Bible or any volume in the earth, is to be found in the awful denunciation of the scribes and the Pharisees by our Lord as He stood in the temple on that Tuesday afternoon. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, painted sepulcher. On the outside, adorned and embellished; on the inside, filled with extortion, and excess, and dead men’s bones, an awful thing.
Then the Lord leaves the temple for the last time, never to return to it again. And as He walked out of the temple, He stopped and beheld a long line of rich men, out of the superfluity and overabundance of their treasures, were dropping in gold coins into the treasury, the trumpet-shaped treasuries of the temple. And the Lord called His disciples to Him, and in the line of those that were putting in gifts for the service of God, there was a poor, ragged, unlettered, unlearned widow woman. And she placed in those trumpet receptacles two little mites that together do not make one-half of a penny.
And the Lord stopped and looked at it, called His disciples and said, "She hath given more than they all, for they, out of the abundance and superfluity of their lives, out of a great treasure, they have given to the Lord, but she has given all of her living, trusting God for daily bread." Last thing of our Lord’s life, in the temple, observing that poor widow and commending her forever.
Then as He passed, along and outside, if any of you have ever been to Jerusalem and have looked at the great stones at the old Jewish Wailing Wall, Jesus saw those very stones. They are a part of the foundation of the Temple to which Jesus came. They are enormous stones of vast length and great height and weight.
And as they walked along, remembering the entire Temple, a vast building that covered acres and acres of ground, as they walked along, the disciples remarked upon these vast, vast stones. And our Lord said, "The day cometh when these stones shall be cast down and not one shall be remaining upon another." [Matthew 23:1-22]
As they walked up to the Mount of Olives, when they ascended the brow of the hill, the disciples gathered around Him again and said, "Lord, tell us, when shall these things be, the sign of Thy coming, and the destruction of Jerusalem, and the end of the age?" Then you have the incomparable eschatological apocalyptic discourse. The little apocalypse in the thirteenth chapter of Mark, the extended apocalypse as you find it in Matthew 24 and 25.
And the Lord leads His disciples into that great and ultimate mystery of the final denouement of the age when our Lord shall come again and His people shall live in His presence. And there shall be, ultimately, a new heaven and a new earth.
The next day is Thursday. And the Lord sends two of His disciples, Peter and John, and He says to them, "There will be a sign you are to follow in the city. You are going to find a man with a pitcher of water on his head." No man ever carried a pitcher of water, but there was a price on Jesus’ head. They were looking for Him, like you would look for a convict. And what Jesus did, He had to do surreptitiously, furtively. You will see in the city a man with a pitcher, carrying a pitcher of water. It was a sign. Follow that man, and where he is, say to him, "Where will we prepare that the Master observe the Passover?"
I said there was a price on Jesus’ head, for at the supper of Simon the leper in Bethany, Mary had come, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. And she had an alabaster box, a pound of spikenard, cost three hundred pence. That was the wage of a day laborer for a solid year. And she had broken the alabaster box over His head and anointed Him and His feet, and the oil of the ointment perfumed the room. And when Judas looked upon it, he said, "That beautiful stained glass window, imagine the waste. Think of the good that could have been done had we taken the money that stained glass window cost and give it to the poor," or, the beautiful church. Look at the waste in that beautiful parlor. Look at the waste in that beautiful chapel. Look at the waste in that beautiful hall. Why was it not taken and given to the poor? We always have the Judas Iscariot close by, always.
I have never been able to understand it, but they are always near by. Why, when it seems to me, if it is for Jesus. Lord, the most precious thing I have is this pound of spikenard, this ointment. I break it, lavishly for Thee. Or, the most beautiful thing we have for the church. Or the finest gift we can make, dedicating it to Jesus.
But Judas says, "Look, look, what a waste, what a waste."
And when Jesus rebuked him, "Leave her alone, she has anointed My body for the burying. And wherever this gospel is preached, this will be spoken as a memorial for her." I am speaking it tonight as a part of the fulfillment of that prophecy, a memorial for her who broke the alabaster box over the precious head of Jesus, and the ointment and the perfume filled the room and ascended unto God. [John 12:1-7]
And I am speaking, there was a price on His head, and immediately Judas went out and bargained with the elders of the Jews, Thirty pieces of silver, and I will deliver Him into your hand. And they made the covenant thirty pieces of silver, the price of a cheap, common slave. Thirty pieces of silver for the Son of God.
They come then to the Thursday evening. To them it would be Friday morning, to us, Thursday evening. And the disciples come to that upper room; I think it was the home of John Mark, John Mark’s mother. And in that upper room, as they began to be seated around the table, they got in a quarrel about who was going to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven, people, all of us alike.
That quarrel arose over who was going to sit on the right hand and the left hand of Jesus, at the head of the table. Who is going to be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? And they quarrel about it. And while they are quarreling about who was going to be biggest and greatest in the kingdom of heaven, while they are quarreling, our Lord disrobes in their presence, girds Himself with a towel, takes a basin of water, and in the guise and service menial of a slave, He begins to wash the disciples’ feet.
Who is greatest? The Lord washes the disciples’ feet, and by the time He got to Simon Peter, that big, impetuous fisherman could bear it no more, "Lord, not my feet, not mine."
And the Lord says, "But Simon, if I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me."
And Simon says, Then, Lord, wash my head and my feet and my hands.
No, says the Lord, "He that is washed needeth not save but to wash his feet, but is every whit clean."
When we are regenerated, when we are saved, we are washed in the blood of the Lamb. It is just that day by day we need to have our feet washed. We need God to forgive us for the sins as we walk through the pilgrimage of each day.
Then Jesus put back on His robes and sat down and said, Verily, verily, one of you tonight shall betray Me into the hands of sinners. And they were sorrowful and said, Lord, one of us? Lord, not I, not I, not I.
And when the question came to Judas, he sarcastically said, Lord, you talking about me? And his lips pursed as he sarcastically asked, You talking about me?
And the Lord said, "About you."
And in keeping with the sign to Peter and John, he dipped the morsel in the dish of the Passover lamb and gave it to Judas Iscariot. And John says, "And when he received the morsel, he went out, and it was night."
It is always night. When we turn our backs on the Son of God, it is night.
Then the Lord took bread and blessed it, and broke it. And each one of them ate as He said This, this is My body, broken for you.
Then He took the cup and blessed it, and said, All of you, drink of it. This is the blood of the New Covenant which is shed for the remission of sins.
And when they had sung an hymn, they went out. And the Lord faced the cross with a hymn on His lips and a song in His heart.
That’s the story of the institution of the Memorial Supper, "This do in
remembrance of Me."
Now, before we share in this beautiful and meaningful service, if somebody, you, tonight, will give his heart to Jesus, would you come and stand by me? If there is one, somebody you, to put his life in the church, would you come while we sing this hymn of appeal? If there is a family you, who ought to come, would you make it tonight? As God shall say the word, shall open the door, shall lead the way, "Here I am, pastor, and here I come. I make it now." Would you so, while we stand and while we sing?