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The gift of the sacraments

John 13:1-15

Pastor David Ernst

Maundy Thursday
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

Play audio of this sermon

Thu, Apr 9, 2020 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In our epistle (1 Corinthians 11: 23-32) we find the same words of institution that are found in the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark and Luke. Because on this night when our Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed, he also took bread and a cup to institute the sacrament of the Lordís Supper.

In his Gospel, Saint John does not speak of the institution of the sacrament, but the washing of the feet of His disciples by Jesus. Why is this not a rite commanded by the Lord? Why is it not a sacrament like the Lordís Supper? Because it was an object lesson for the disciples on administeriing the sacraments of baptism and the Lordís Supper.

The first point is those who follow Jesus, especially those called to be stewards of the mysteries of God, that is, the Word and the sacraments, must be prepared to humble themselves as Jesus was humbled on the cross. Those who would have responsibility and authority in the kingdom of God must be the servants of all. Jesus commissioned the apostles with the preaching and administration of the sacraments not to rule over others, but to care for the sheep. The custom was for the servants to wash the feet of their master and his guests after the first glass of wine before dinner. However, Jesus Himself took off His robe, and taking a towel, He girded himself. Then He put water in a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

Jesus sacrificed His body and blood to pay the price of our sins once for all, to win for us the promise of eternal life. So this object lesson also applies to the nature of the sacraments. The dialogue between Jesus and Saint Peter applies to baptism.

"Then he came to Simon Peter; And Peter said to him: Lord, do you wash my feet? Jesus answered and said to him: What you do I do not understand now; but you will understand later. Pedro said to him: You will never wash my feet. Jesus answered him: If I do not wash you, you will have no part with me. Simon Peter said to him, Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head. Jesus said to him, He who has been washed need only wash his feet, because he is all clean; and you are clean, although not all. "

Baptism is necessary. Those who want to be saved should be baptized. Because in baptism, according to Saint Paul, we die to sin and share in the resurrection. "If I don't wash you, you will have no part with me." However, those who receive the regeneration wash once are clean, and do not have to be baptized again. At baptism we are named children of God forever, because Jesus Christ died once for all forever. In His death on the cross, Jesus won everyone's justification before God. This is universal objective justification. But, for everyone to receive this promise for himself, everyone must be baptized. Those who reject baptism reject justification.

The new life in Christ begins at baptism. But, before our resurrection, we are still sinners and we always fall into sin. For this reason, the Lord instituted the sacrament, for the forgiveness of our sins and the restoration and nourishment of our faith. Because we always fall into sin, we must receive the sacrament frequently. The sacrament is not a repetition of the Lord's sacrifice on the cross, but it is a means of grace in which we receive his body and blood for the nourishment of the faith that the Holy Spirit created in us at baptism.

Furthermore, according to our epistle, "For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes." To receive the sacrament is a confession of our faith in the Lord's second coming in glory.

But, there is a caveat regarding the sacrament in our epistle. ďSo anyone who eats this bread, or drinks the Lord's cup unworthily, will be blamed for the Lord's body and blood. Therefore each should examine himself, and thus eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks judgment for himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. Ē

Jesus sacrificed his body and blood for everyone on the cross and everyone receives the body and blood in, with and under the bread and wine. But those who receive with faith and repentance receive the body and blood of Christ as a blessing, but those who do not receive with faith and repentance receive condemnation. To receive the sacrament requires the instruction in what is happening in the sacrament to discern the body and blood in the sacrament. Those who live in open sin and without repentance must also receive the sacrament.

So tonight we thank God for the sacrifice of our Lord on the cross, also for new life at baptism and spiritual food and drink at the Lord's Supper.

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