Our Memorial Supper
October 1st, 1967 @ 7:30 PM
OUR MEMORIAL SUPPER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-1-67 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are invited to turn with us, here in the First Baptist Church in Dallas, to the twenty-seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, the First Gospel. And we shall read out loud together Matthew 27, beginning at verse 33 and concluding with verse 54. This is a reading together of the crucifixion of our Lord. Matthew, chapter 27, beginning at verse 33, and reading through verse 54. And sharing your Bible with your neighbor, and you who are listening on the radio, turning to the passage with us, let us all read it together out loud. Matthew 27, verse 33 through verse 54. Now together:
And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a Place of a Skull,
They gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink.
And they crucified Him, and parted His garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted My garments among them, and upon My vesture did they cast lots.
And sitting down they watched Him there;
And set up over His head His accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Then were there two thieves crucified with Him, the one on the right hand, and another on the left.
And they that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads,
And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save Thyself. If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
Likewise also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said,
He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.
He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said, I am the Son of God.
The thieves also, which were crucified with Him, cast the same in His teeth.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is to say, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?
Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This Man calleth for Elijah.
And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink.
The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.
Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
And came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
Now possibly the centurion did not have the fullness of meaning in his exclamation here as he watched Jesus die that we might have today after these thousand, nine hundred years of Christian history. But to him—and it is no extenuation of his exclamation when I say it—but to him there was something unique, and separate, and apart in the death of the Son of God when he lifted up his voice and said, “Truly, truly this was the Son of God” [Matthew 27:54]. Now I have three things to say of that separate uniqueness and apartness that accompanied the sacrifice and the death of our Lord.
First: there are many lives and many sufferings and many deaths that have attended the story of mankind to which Jesus belonged and in which He identified Himself, made like one of us, living in a house of flesh, suffering and dying as our people suffer and die. But the life and the suffering and the death of Jesus is separate, and unique, and apart [Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5]. I have copied out of the works of the skeptic Rousseau this beautiful and marvelous tribute to the life of our Lord:
What sweetness, what purity in His manner,
What an effective gracefulness in His delivery,
What sublimity in His maxims,
What profound wisdom in His discourses,
What presence of mind in His answers,
How great the command over His passions.
Where is the man, where the philosopher,
Who could so live and so die without weakness and without ostentation?
If the life and death of Socrates were those of a sage,
The life and the death of Jesus were those of a god.
[from “Émile ou de L’Education,” livre iv., Jean Jacques Rousseau, 1839]
This, the witness of a skeptic, a critic, a rejecting philosopher.
The life of our Lord, in any fair and unbiased judgment, is unique; it is separate and apart; so the death of our Savior. How many have been the graves dug in this earth? Our planet literally is a vast illimitable cemetery. And how many have suffered the pangs and the agonies of death? But the passion, the suffering, the sacrifice, and the death of our Lord is unique, separate, and apart.
In heaven, He volunteered to bear our sins on the tree [Hebrews 10:5-14]. In the tenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, “Sacrifice and offering thou desirest not, but a body hast thou prepared for Me” [Hebrews 10:5]. And in the dark secret womb of the virgin Mary, God prepared the body for the sacrifice for our sins [Matthew 1:20-23]. “Sacrifice and offerings, the blood of bulls and goats, Thou desirest not; but a body hast Thou prepared for Me [Hebrews 10:5]. Then, said I,” our Lord speaking in glory, “Then, said I, Lo, I come (in the roll of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God” [Hebrews 10:6-7]; that He die in our stead for our sins. And the whole objective, goal, consummation of His life moves toward that holy end: that He bear our sins in His own body on the tree [1 Peter 2:24]. “He steadfastly set His face toward Jerusalem” [Luke 9:51]. And in the garden of Gethsemane when He was betrayed that awful night, and Simon Peter drew a sword to defend his Lord, the Savior said, “Put up the sword. If I were to ask My Father, would He not send Me twelve legions of angels?” [Matthew 26:51-53]. Do you ever think of that? Seventy-two thousands of angels? One angel, just one, when he passed over the army of the Assyrian, Sennacherib, one angel, in one night, slew one hundred eighty-five thousand of Sennacherib’s Assyrian soldiers. And when the city, besieged Jerusalem, awakened the next morning, there were before them one hundred eighty-five thousand dead corpses [Isaiah 37:36]. One angel! And the Lord said, “If I were to ask of the Father, would He not send Me seventy-two thousands of angels?” [Matthew 26:53]. But this is His voluntary death for our sins; unique, separate, and apart [Hebrews 10:5-14]. “And He bowed His head and dismissed His spirit [John 19:30]…I lay down My life of Myself” [John 10:18]; He died for us [Matthew 27:57-61].
Second: not only is the death of our Lord, and the life of our Lord, and the sufferings of our Lord unique, separate, and apart, but our world is unique, separate, and apart because He lived in it, and died here, and was buried in this soil. There are thousands of worlds of some kind and description. There are millions of planets and systems in God’s creation, but this planet upon which we live and in which, unless He comes, we shall be buried, is unique and separate and apart.
There are three words in this Greek New Testament for “world.” There’s the word, gē, the word gē, “g-e,” geography is taken from it, gē; it refers to the land, the soil of this planet, gē. There is a second word, oikoumenē, that refers to the inhabited world, the world of people. There is a third Greek world, cosmos, from kosmeō, which means to make beautiful, kosmos; beauty. “Cosmetic” comes from it, “to beautify,” kosmos. And the Greek referred to this world as a kosmos because of its order and its beauty and its symmetry. God made this world beautiful, symmetrical, glorious, celestial; it is a kosmos, but Satan destroyed it [Genesis 1:2]. When sin entered, the planets became cinders; and great wastes and deserts cursed this world. And the thorn and the thistle grew up, and men died. But the purpose of Christ in His coming into this world is to undo and destroy the works of the devil [1 John 3:8]; and to make of this world—this world—a beautiful, symmetrical cosmos, an Eden, a paradise again [2 Peter 3:13]. There may be millions of other worlds. There may be uncounted numbers of other planets and systems. But this world will always be unique, separate, and apart because Jesus came to die for it, to live in it, to make a sacrifice for its redemption [Hebrews 10:5-14]. In a beautiful passage I read:
Thank God for Calvary. Millions of worlds may float today in space; many of them may be larger, grander than this poor earth. They may be strewn with diamonds and rowed with flowers that never fade. And the beauty and the fragrance exceed our most fanciful dreams. But if they have no Calvary, to diadem their beauty, of all the worlds God has made, our world is king. King of spheres and the highway which leads from our world to heaven is most frequently trodden by the angels . . . Calvary, Heaven’s Sacrificial altar—the moral axis of the universe on which the wheels of Redemption move. Hear it,
“I would for ever stay, Weep and gaze my soul away; Thou art heaven on earth to me, Lovely, mournful Calvary.”
[“The Three Mountains,” James Montgomery from
Sermons and Lectures, William Elbert Munsey, 1879]
There may be many universes, and many planets, and many worlds, but ours, this poor earth, will always be unique, and separate, and apart because Jesus lived in it and died for it.
Third: there may be many commitments and many devotions, but our commitment to Jesus and our devotion to our blessed Lord should be unique, and separate, and apart, a thing of heaven, a union with God. This did my Lord for me, a sinful man, a dying creature, and in His love, and mercy, and sobs, and tears, and blood, and agony, and death; this did He for me: that my sins might be washed away [Revelation 1:5], that someday without fault and blemish I might stand in the presence of God [Ephesians 5:27; Jude 1:24], that I might live in this life and in the life that is yet to come [John 10:27-30]. A devotion, a gratitude, a remembrance that is unique, and separate, and apart, and when we have the memorial of the breaking of bread, thus in remembrance of our Savior [1 Corinthians 11:24-26]; oh, oh, oh, what He has done for me!
Did you read some time ago in the daily newspapers about a young fellow, he was fifteen years old? His name was Guy Rockefeller, apparently no kin to the famous Rockefeller family of New York. But the young fellow, a teenager fifteen years old, was exploring one of those high precipitous mountains in Arizona, and the newspaper said that the young fellow somehow lost his way, lost his grip, lost his hold and fell down and was caught on a ledge five hundred feet down the mountainside. And the next day, a deputy sheriff of Pima County Arizona, rescued the young fellow and made it possible for them to bring him up to safety. Then the tragedy of the newspaper story: that deputy of Pima County, whose name the paper said was John Anderson, that deputy in climbing back up the mountain somehow lost his hold and hurtled one thousand feet below into the valley and to his death. The boy was saved by the courage and the bravery of the deputy sheriff; but the man, John Anderson, lost his life in rescuing the boy. Now that was the AP newspaper article. Now I don’t want to think wherever that boy is that he’d do such a thing, but this is just surmising in my mind. Suppose upon a day, in the time that followed after, the town where the deputy lived and where the boy lived, suppose upon a day they were to have a memorial service in honor of the sacrifice of that brave deputy who lost his life in rescuing that lad; and just suppose that the boy should say, “I’ve got other things to do. I am too busy to take time to honor the memory of the deputy at the expense and cost of whose life I have been saved.” The thought of it is sad. Such a thing couldn’t happen. But it does to us all the time.
Oh, how infrequently and really do we return thanks to God that He died for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3]; that He bore them in His own body on the tree [1 Peter 2:4]; that He laid down His life for us [Galatians 2:20]. O, Lord, O Lord! And that’s why this memorial supper. “This bread is My body, take, eat, in remembrance of Me. And this red fruit of the vine is My blood, shed for the remission of,” our, “sins, take, drink in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show forth the Lord’s death for us, till He come, till we see Him face to face” [1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Matthew 26:28].
And blessed Lord, to remember Thee, and to bow in love and adoration before Thee is the highest spiritual experience in life; unique, separate, apart, as high as our souls can reach.
And while we sing our hymn of invitation, somebody you give himself to the Lord Jesus tonight, a family you coming into the fellowship of our dear church, or one somebody you. In the balcony round, on this lower floor, however God shall press the appeal to your heart, come tonight, make it now; decide now and come. I’ll be standing here to this side of our table of memory; give me your hand, “Pastor, I give you my hand, my heart have I given to the Lord, and here I come, here I am.” Or, to join in prayer and fellowship with this dear congregation, on the first note of the first stanza, come, do it now, make it tonight. While all of us stand and sing.
OUR MEMORIAL SUPPER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Many have suffered and died, but suffering and death of Jesus separate, unique and apart
A. The life of our Lord
B. The passion, suffering anddeath of our Lord
1. He volunteered in heaven(Hebrews 10:5-7)
2. He volunteered in earth(Luke 9:51, Matthew 26:53, Isaiah 37:36)
3. His voluntary death for our sins (John 10:18, 19:30)II. Many worlds, but Calvary sets this world apart
A. Jesus lived and died here
B. The kosmos(John 3:16)
C. What Satan destroyed, Christ to reclaim and remakeIII. Many devotions, but ours to Him should be unique and apart
A. Devotion, gratitude and remembrance(1 Corinthians 11:24-26)
1. Guy Rockefeller
B. The memorial supper (Matthew 26:28)