Institution of Lord’s Supper
May 4th, 1986 @ 7:30 PM
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
5-4-86 7:30 p.m.
A purpose I hope we can share as we see something in the betrayal and crucifixion of our Lord that doubtless we have not been aware of and can be made more meaningful to us in this sacred memorial. Following through the chronological movements of our Lord in the institution of this sacred Supper: in Perea, on the other side of the Jordan, He spoke to the kneeling rich young ruler; then crossing the Jordan came to Jericho, was met by blind Bartimeus, whose eyes He opened; and then spent the evening with Zacchaeus, a hated tax collector; from Jericho, climbed the steep ascent to Bethany; and from Bethany on Sunday, shared in the triumphal entry of Israel’s Messiah into the Holy City of Jerusalem. Then on Tuesday, He returned to the temple and was confronted there with the hostile leaders of the Jewish nation. He was challenged by the Sanhedrin concerning His authority for the things that He did. And He answered whether they believed the baptism of John was from heaven or from men. And the Sanhedrin refused to answer, because had they said from men, the mob would have stoned them; had they answered from heaven, "Then why did you not believe as testimony to Me?" [Mark 11:27-33]. He was then challenged by the Pharisees concerning tribute to Caesar. "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s" [Matthew 22:21]. He was then challenged by the Sadducees concerning the resurrection from the dead, using that old conundrum about a woman who had seven husbands, and in heaven to whom would she belong [Matthew 22:23-33]. Then finally, challenged by the lawyers, the scribes, concerning the great commandment of the law [Matthew 22:34-40]. So brilliant and unanswerable was our Savior that from then henceforth, no man dared ask Him any question; "Never a man spake like that Man [John 7:46]," like the Lord Jesus.
Then Tuesday night, that night, He was a guest in the home of Simon the leper. And in that beautiful evening meal, Mary of Bethany washed His feet and dried them with the hair of her head, and she anointed Him with ointment of spikenard that cost a year’s salary. When Judas saw that, John says, "because he held the bag, he was the treasurer, and stole the things that were placed therein," when Judas saw he commented on the waste thus anointing our Lord. And Jesus reprimanded him. Sweet Mary had anointed Him for His burial, the Lord said. And Judas, stung by that reprimand, went out and negotiated with the Sanhedrin, and the elders, and the scribes, and the Pharisees, and the Sadducees, with the whole hostile elected leadership of the Jewish faith and temple and nation, to deliver the Lord into his hands.
Now, why did they negotiate with Judas to deliver the Lord into their hands? He was there with them every day. He openly was teaching in the temple. They were confronting Him with these challenging forensic questions. Why didn’t they take Him? Why should they negotiation with Judas for thirty pieces of silver that he delivered the Lord into their hands? Why? The answer was the enormous unbelievable popularity of the Lord Jesus. The people loved Him. As the Gospels say, "The common people heard Him gladly" [Mark 12:37]. And had the leaders of the Sanhedrin laid hands upon Him, they would have been mobbed and stoned by the people. The people loved the Lord Jesus. He opened their eyes. He healed their wounded spirits. He brought to them the message of the gospel of grace. The people loved the Lord Jesus.
So it came about that on Thursday night – that is the Jewish Friday, the beginning of the Jewish Friday – on Thursday night, while they were eating the Passover, and at which time the Lord instituted the sacred Supper, as they were eating, the apostle John, who was leaning on the Lord’s breast, said to the Lord, "Simon wants to know who it is that You say will betray You." And the Lord replied, "It is him to whom I give this sop"; and He took some of the unleavened bread and dipped it in the sop of the paschal lamb, and handed it to Judas Iscariot, and said, "What you do, do quickly" [John 13:23-27]. Judas Iscariot left to go to the leaders of the Sanhedrin. At that time the Lord instituted the sacred Supper, and Judas made arrangement for the Lord to be delivered secretly, in the dark of the night, that night. He knew that the Lord was wont to bow in prayer in Gethsemane, and he led the officers of the temple to Gethsemane. And they asked him, "But in the dark of the night, how is it that we can distinguish Him, who He is, from all the others who will be present?" And Judas said, "He it is to whom I kiss" [Matthew 26:48], betraying the Lord with an affectionate gesture of devotion and love, kissing the Lord in the night. They seized Him, and before the populus who knew the Savior could intervene. Because the city was filled with pilgrims for the Passover from the ends of the Greco-Roman Empire, the Sanhedrin leaders persuaded them that this Man was an enemy to God and an enemy to the nation. And by nine o’clock the next morning, they had Him nailed to a tree. And there He died for the sins of the world. That’s why it was that the Lord was betrayed in the dark of the night and why it was that Judas Iscariot was used by the leaders and the elders of the people to present Him into their hostile and murderous hands.
So the apostle Paul writes of that tragic night and of the institution of this sacred memorial: "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night," much emphasized, and you understand why – He could not have been betrayed and crucified in the open where the people would have challenged those who sought to take His life, it was in the night – "the same night in which He was betrayed: He took bread, and when He had given thanks" – what an amazing encompassing faith, as our sweet Denny Dawson says, "Anybody can praise God when things are going your way; it’s those who trust in the Lord who praise Him when things are not going your way" – "He gave thanks" – in a few hours He would be crucified:
He gave thanks, and He took bread and brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body broken for you. This do in remembrance of Me.
And in the same manner He took the cup, when He first had drunk of it Himself, saying, This cup is the new contract, the new promise, the new hope, the new covenant in My name, in My blood: this do ye as oft, as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.
For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show, you dramatize, you recreate the Lord’s suffering, atoning, substitutionary death, you do it till He comes.
[1 Corinthians 11:23-26]
A beautiful sharing in the house of God with the family of our dear Lord; and He took bread, and blessed it, gave thanks, and brake it; and they all ate of that broken loaf.
Dr. Lamar Cooper, the professor of Hebrew in our Center of Biblical Studies, will lead us in that Eucharistic prayer of thanksgiving. Dr. Cooper.