A sermon delivered by Robert Browning, Pastor, Smoke Rise Baptist Church, Stone Mountain, Ga., on January 9, 2011.
This was not a casual, relaxing meal around a table with dear friends. Tension was in the air and everyone felt it.
Jesus and his disciples were in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, which commemorated the final meal eaten by the Israelites before their departure from Egypt. Normally, this was a festive time to re-connect with friends from various parts of Palestine. The list of Jesus’ friends was getting shorter and shorter, however. Even one of his disciples would leave that room to betray him and the others would abandon him after his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.
In spite of this, Jesus proceeded to host the Passover meal and spend some quiet moments with his disciples. He also used this occasion to give this ancient ritual new meaning.
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, ‘Take it; this is my body.’
Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.
‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ he said to them. ‘I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink anew in the kingdom of God.’
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” Mark 14:22-26.
Do you understand what Jesus did that evening? He stared death in the face and gave thanks for his blessings, talked about the future and broke out in song.
How was he able to do this? Obviously, he could see more than what was in front of him. He could also see the goodness and faithfulness of the one he called Father, who was determined to overcome evil with good, hatred with love and death with life.
When you can stare death in the face and give thanks for your blessings, it means you can see more than what is in front of you. You can also see good things of life and the generous and faithful ones who provide them.
When you can stare death in the face and talk about the future, it means you can see more than what is around you. You can also see the One who will never let any tragedy have the final word in our life, not even death.
When you can stare death in the face and break out in song, it means that you have more in your heart than fear. You also have strength, courage, confidence, hope and peace.
I don’t know what you are facing today, but I know you don’t have to face it alone. Will you ask God to accompany you on your journey and help you to see above and beyond what is in front of you and fill your heart with gratitude, hope and courage? I am confident God will do for you what He did for Jesus.