Matthew 26:20-30 (Part 4) – Back in the Summer of ’76…The Undeserved Best Six Flags Trip EVER!

Posted: April 3, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 26:20-30 (Part 4)

Jesus and the Disciples Share the Last Supper

 

Back when I was in my early teens, when my dad, the Methodist minister, was transferred from his assignment at Trinity United Methodist Church in Anderson, SC to Travelers Rest United Methodist Church in Travelers Rest, SC, I was angry. In Anderson, SC, I was happy. I was coming into my own there. I was popular, had lots of friends, and was very well-situated in the teen landscape of Lakeside Middle School. I was about to move into the high school scene at Westside High School in the fall. I was set. Then, we had to move. I didn’t want to move but when you are a kid still loving at home and dependent on your parents – what are ya gonna do? You show out! During the late summer that year, my best friend from Anderson, Donnie, can up to visit me for the week and being the mischievous kids that we were. We got in trouble for vandalizing what was then the elementary school in the middle of town. It was bad. We got into deep ka-ka. If my dad had not agreed to pay for the damages, we would have been in really serious trouble. But the one thing that I remember the most and it was the main reason Donnie had come to visit was that we had church youth group trip to Six Flags over Georgia in Atlanta planned that weekend. As part of our punishment for having been so bad was that we were going to have to spend the whole day at Six Flags under the direct supervision and physical presence of my parents. Oh the horror to a teen. To be seen hanging out with your parents or your best friend’s parents all day long at Six Flags. How embarrassing? How nerdy would we seem. It took all the fun out the trip with these kids at my dad’s new church. How much “street cred” would I lose with them if they saw us hanging out with my parents all day. It was going to be humiliating. I dreaded it. It was going to be like death, a social one anyway. Oh the horror! Oh the shame! It seems funny now that you think like that as a kid in the summer between middle school and high school, but it was real. We knew that we deserved such a fate but we didn’t want it. We knew that it was our judgment for the bad behavior and my dad, if anything, was consistent in discipline. We could not talk our way out of any punishment with him. You break the rules; you pay; no negotiation. I respect him for that now because it taught me about actions and consequences and that life has no do-overs. But then it was tough. Dad was a loving dad but he was tough. He was consistent and seemingly unyielding when it came to discipline. That’s what made this trip to Atlanta so dreadful. I knew that if dad said we were going to have to spend the day in his sights, it was going to happen. No ifs, ands, or buts. When we got to Six Flags and dad gathered us teens from the church around him to give them instructions about times, about lunch, and about time to leave, it was time to pay up. He told all the youth to go have a great time and that he would see them at the picnic shelter for lunch. He then pulled Donnie and me aside. Here it was. It was punishment time.

 

But then something amazing happened. My dad, the loving father but unwavering disciplinarian, told us that we deserved the punishment that he had planned. We certainly could not argue with him. We had caused about $1,000 in 1976 dollars of damage to the school. We had embarrassed him in his new town, a small town, where he was the pastor of the main Methodist church in town. We deserved his wrath and we knew it. But amazingly, my dad after dressing us down one more time for our stupid acts of vandalism, he set us free. What? My dad not holding our feet to the fire? What? We were free to roam Six Flags on our own. He relented on our punishment and let us go. He let us out of “being seen all day with your parents jail.” We deserved the punishment but had been set free. Never was there a trip to Six Flags that I enjoyed more than that one EVER. When we thought we had been sentenced to teen hell, and knew that we deserved it, we had been set free. Best Six Flags trip EVER!

 

It is that story that illustrates the wine for me at the Lord’s Supper. Wine is a central part of the Lord’s Supper. Let’s re-read the text one more time:

 

20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

 

22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”

 

23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

 

25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”

 

Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

 

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

 

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

 

30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

 

 

The disciples understood what Jesus was saying about forgiveness of sins. They each had grown up understanding the Old Testament (OT) sacrificial system.  In the context of the Old Testament, God instructed the priesthood to foreshadow the shedding of Christ’s blood by a system of cleansing and purification through the blood of sacrificed animals. He commanded the nation of Israel to undertake this temporary system of the ritualistic cleansing from sins (Hebrews 9:9-10). It was temporary and had to be repeated annually. Created beings from an imperfect world stained by sin were sacrificed for our sins committed during the previous year. It was practice for the real thing. It was practice for recognizing the Messiah, the permanent solution to our sin problem. Jesus was not a created being. He was God himself and he came to earth and broke into human history and lived the perfect, umblemished life. It was only He who could be the permanent solution. He was perfect and sinless in every way because He was eternally and before time began part of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). He was acting as the Son when He went to the cross and took on the wrath of the Father against all sins of mankind for all time, past, present and future. His blood was shed and took the wrath and punishment that we deserved. We are sinners in need of God to relent on His promised punishment of us for our sins. However, the punishment for our sins was placed on the perfect, sinless one, Jesus Christ. We do not deserve this reprieve. We are still sinners. But God punished Jesus not us. He set us free because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Jesus was the only one, the only perfect human being ever, who could take on the whole wrath of God for all sin for all time. He was no temporary solution that needs repeating. He finished it. It is done. We are set free. So, the disciples understood the whole OT sacrificial system, but it was not until later that they understood fully what Jesus was saying about His own blood. The blood sacrifice, the substitutionary sacrifice they understood. Transferance of our sins to a lamb and letting the lamb take the punishment through the shedding of their blood and through their death they understood. Jesus was to be the once and final sacrificial lamb. They would come to understand it and fully grasp the symbolism of this meal and the wine used in it. They would come to fully understand what Jesus did on the cross and it was that actual sacrifice that gives the wine in the Lord’s Supper its great symbolic value.

 

The wine is symbolic of Jesus’ shed blood of the New Covenant. He is the final Lamb. Through His death and the shedding of His blood we are set free from the penalty of hell that we deserve as imperfect sinners who, though being perfected by the Holy Spirit over time, continue to sin. One sin does us in not to mention the whole lifetime of sins we commit. We are on our own in need of rescue. We cannot erase our sin stain. It is permanent. We need a covering. We find it in the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. That sacrifice where we He took on the wrath of God for our own sins cleanses us in God’s sight. The slaughtered lamb, Jesus Christ, makes us clean through His blood. The wine is the symbol of that shed blood that was shed for our redemption from hell. We are set free. We are no longer in jail. The door to our hellish prison cell is slung wide open. Best present EVER! We know that we deserve our sentence but we have been set free. Remember the price that was paid for your freedom when you see the wine at the Lord’s Supper. Remember that the wine is a reminder and a symbol of the real sacrifice made by Jesus to set you free from your just and deserved punishment. That should make you approach the Lord’s Supper with awe and reverence and thanksgiving filled with joy.

 

Just like two boys who had the best Six Flags trip EVER when they were set free from the punishment that they fully deserved and more. Best Six Flags trip EVER! Jesus has set you free by His act of love and forgiveness. All you must do is accept it. Proclaim Jesus as your Savior and Lord with your mouth, and believe that He died on the cross for your full slate of sins, and believe that He rose from the dead to give you new life and you will be set free. You are free. You are forgiven. Your penalty is paid. You can roam about life free of the penalty for your sins. Go be free. Best trip EVER!

 

Amen and Amen.

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