The Rev’d Stephen E. Stults
St. Paul’s Anglican Church
St. Paul’s Anglican Church
Maundy Thursday, 2016
This is a glorious night. On this night, approximately two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ changed everything. On this glorious night, mankind’s salvation was translated from a works-oriented system to one based on faith and on the limitless mercies of God. On this glorious night, Jesus Christ changed the way we believe and the way we remember our salvation. It was on this night that Jesus Christ ushered mankind into the New Testament era, one based on hope and faith and trust.
How did this happen? How could this happen? Let’s review just a bit.
tells us in
today’s Epistle from 1 Corinthians that Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it
and distributed it to the disciples. He said, “Take, eat: this is my body, which is
given for you. This do in remembrance of
me.” He then took the cup and did
likewise, saying, “This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye as oft
as ye shall drink, in remembrance of me.”
These words changed everything.
Christ now offered Himself as the Passover Lamb to take away our sins.
Moreover, this sacrifice was not temporary, needing to offered year by year to
atone for the sins of the people. Rather, it was, in the words of the Prayer
Book: “the one oblation of
himself once offered: a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and
satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world.” St. Paul
The best authority to help us understand this is the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 9:
“For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling them that have been defiled, sanctify unto the cleanness of the flesh: 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” We know from our study of the Old Testament that the High Priest of Israel went once a year into the Holy of Holies in the
and offered blood for the sins of the people. This was what God commanded. It was not, however, a permanent or durable
sacrifice to take away sins. It also
could not purge the conscience of sins.
Yet, in the fullness of time and in the wideness of God’s mercy, Jesus
came. As the first chapter of Hebrews
tells us: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to
the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us
by His Son, whom He has appointed
heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who
being the brightness of His glory and
the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His
power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of
the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels,
as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Temple
Thus, Christ came, spoke, ministered, and died for us. He was betrayed into the hands of sinners, as we read tonight. As we discussed on Palm Sunday, despite man’s best efforts to kill Jesus for the world’s reasons, God’s Will was done. Returning to the ninth chapter of Hebrews, we read: “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
Thus, we reformed Christians, we Anglican Christians, don’t have to rely on a system of good works to try to earn our way into heaven, thank God. This is impossible, due to the fallen nature of mankind, our own inherent sinfulness. We rely instead on the “one, perfect and sufficient sacrifice” of Jesus Christ. That is what our Lord bequeathed to us in the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist.
Through the Supper, we remember His sacrifice of Himself for us. Through the Supper, we receive grace to be Christians, “little Christs” in the world; and through the Supper we are fed spiritually with Christ Himself.
As Bp. Sutton once said, “Through the liturgy of the Eucharist, we take Christ into ourselves, and we become part of Christ. This is a great mystery.’
Indeed it is. It is one of the greatest mysteries known to man, or better said, known to the household of faith. For it is only in the Body, the Church, and its graceful fellowship that one receives this mystery. Christ gave us the Church, he gave us the Eucharist, and now he gives us grace to carry on in His name, until we feast with Him in heaven.
This is indeed a great mystery. This is indeed a great gift to us. This is indeed a glorious night.
! Cor. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord's death till he come.”
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.