This Is For You!
Preached at the Cornerstone Church on Sunday, March 18, 2018.
THIS IS FOR YOU
Part 2 of Our Great Savior. Luke 22:7-20
Peter Foxwell. The Cornerstone Church. March 18, 2018.
Our eternal destiny hangs on what we CANNOT do. This report of the Last Supper is all about that. It's about our own limits. It is, frankly, about being more helpless than a baby. The Last Supper and the crucifixion that will follow the next day are all about what we cannot do.
Twice during the meal, Jesus said the little phrase "for you." And that's the key to everything.
Peter, what in the world are you talking about? Let me show you.
It was the Passover meal (see Exodus 12). The Passover was a feast that the people of Israel were required to celebrate every year. It was a perpetual reminder of the Exodus - what God did to rescue them from slavery in Egypt.
According to tradition, the Passover meal had to be eaten in the city of Jerusalem - that's why Peter and John go into the city to find the man with a guest room.
In the Passover, the lamb was all-important. In the original Exodus, they smeared the lamb's blood on their door-frames and were spared from spared from God's judgment and the next day they were rescued from slavery and the demon-gods of Egypt.
When Jesus asked Peter and John to "make preparations to eat the Passover," he meant for them to go to the Temple in Jerusalem, buy a lamb, have it slaughtered by a priest and then roast it so it was ready for the evening meal.
We'll skip the details of the meal and say just this: The Passover meal was all about God. It was not a celebration of human courage or ingenuity. God is the hero. The people were in bondage and God set them free. This is made very clear by the words of Jesus in verses 19-20. Let's look at what he said ...
THIS IS FOR YOU
At this point in the Passover meal, Jesus wants to shift attention away from the OLD Exodus event to a NEW Exodus event - his crucifixion the next day. There, on the cross, God is going to set his people free.
The impact of Jesus' words is to tell his disciples what they cannot do, their limits. By repeating the words "for you," he is saying I have to do this for you because you cannot do this for you:
First, he hands out the bread and says, "This is my body given for you."
He's talking about his body being nailed to a cross. There, Jesus gives himself - not just his body, but his entire self - as a sacrifice for sins. There was no way we could have done that. We cannot offer anywhere near enough to pay for our sins.
Isaiah 53:5-6 "He was pierced for OUR transgressions, he was crushed for OUR iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 ... and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Then, he hands out the cup of wine and says, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."
The new covenant binds God to us, to be our God, to forgive us, to be with us forever (see Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 10:16-17). At the cross, Jesus seals a new covenant in his blood. He has to do it because we cannot make covenant with God. We have no standing, no reason why God would agree anything with us. Besides, even if we could make covenant, we'd be just like Israel, we'd break it over and over. Jesus has to do it for us.
This is what the cross is all about. It is God in Christ doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. In the new Exodus, Jesus breaks the chains of sin and Satan. He sets us free. He does it. Jesus is the hero, the center of it all. We cannot do this for God. He has to do it for us. Jesus says, "It's for you!"
THE CROSS: THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST
Christ on the cross is a revelation of God and his character. If we want to know what God is like, here he is on full display. The cross speaks to us and says: God is infinitely precious and beautiful.
1 Peter 1:19 tells us that we have been redeemed - set free - by the precious blood of Christ. That word "precious," is used elsewhere in the NT to talk about jewels, gem stones, stones of great value and beauty. For example, the glory of God is pictured as a very precious jewel in Revelation 21:10-11:
"He carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal."
It feels a bit weird to speak of blood as precious in same way as God's glory is precious. After all, the blood is a picture of Christ's death and suffering and of life poured out. But that's precisely why it is so, so beautiful. It is his life poured out for us, to redeem us - to set us free for God.
For those with faith to see, there is a strange beauty in the mangled body of Christ nailed to the tree, dying in our place because it is a revelation of God's character. At the cross, God is arrayed in the beauty of humility, and love, and courage, and compassion, and mercy, and self-sacrifice FOR US.
Richard Sibbes, the Puritan pastor, wrote, "Christ was never more lovely to his church than when he was most deformed for his church."
We've barely scratched the surface. There is so much more that deserves to be said. I haven't even touched on the beauty of God's holiness on display at the cross: A holiness that hates sin, but became sin for us, and suffered under his own holy justice for us, in order to eradicate sin from us. What kind of beautiful holiness is that?
How is your heart responding to this revelation of God's beauty? There are three kinds of heart here today listening to me speak these sacred words:
The first heart is alive and grateful and full of love for God. In a moment, we'll pour out our praise to God because he has made our hearts alive to him.
The second heart is hard. It hears me speak of the beauty of God displayed at the cross. It hears that all this was "for you" and it scoffs, it denies, it resists. There is only one cure for a hard heart: Prayer. "God, please change me deep inside so I can see your beauty displayed on the cross."
The third heart is proud. The last thing it wants to hear is, "This is for you because you cannot pay for your sins and you cannot create a relationship with God." Christ on the cross is like an axe to the root of self-confidence and self-improvement and self-promotion.
What is the cure for a proud heart? First, knowing that God doesn't like it: "God opposes the proud but he gives grace to the humble?" - 1 Peter 5:5.
The most effective cure for a proud heart is to contemplate the cross. Think of what was happening there. The King of Glory humbled himself, became a man, wore a crown of thorns, and became obedient to death on the cross FOR YOUR SALVATION - TO SET YOU FREE FROM SIN AND SATAN.
In light of this saving humility of God for you, how can you justify your pride? Will you argue with him and say, "I must pay. I must atone for my sins. I can do better than you God." No, lay down your burden at the cross and with open heart receive all that God has done for you there.
Galatians 6:14 "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 2:2 "I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."