26:14Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
17On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 18He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, ‘My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” 19So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.
20When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; 21and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” 25Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”
26While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
52:13 See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.
14 Just as there were many who were astonished at him — so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals —
15 so he shall startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which had not been told them they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.
53:1 Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised,
and we held him of no account.
4 Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way,
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people.
9 They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him with pain.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the LORD shall prosper.
11 Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Jesus and his disciples gathered in that upper room to celebrate the Passover. They gathered in the ancient tradition of Israel, remembering that God took a big family of slaves and made them into a nation of free people. Israel was freed by God’s love and shaped by a covenant with God. That covenant called them to remember that their freedom was a gift and to live freely with compassion for others.
The ritual of remembering freedom and covenant at the Passover table was one of the first traditions given to Israel. Israel was to be marked by freedom, covenant and the redeeming love of God.
At that supper table long ago Jesus and his disciples remembered God’s freeing, loving covenant. At that supper table Jesus broke bread and told them about a new covenant. That new covenant was also about love and freedom. It was a covenant made real in the breaking of Christ’s body and the spilling of his blood.
Christ’s new covenant with us frees us from sin, but it also frees us from rules and ritual. We have traditions, and those traditions remind us of who we are in Christ. But we are not meant to make those traditions into new rules. We are not meant to be tied down by structure or commandments. We’re not meant to be tied down by guilt or obligation.
Instead Jesus sets us free. He sets us free through his cross. At the cross we see how incredible God’s love for us is. We see that there’s no length God won’t go to to bring us home. Isaiah’s words ring true: “He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.”
At that table long ago Jesus made a new covenant with his disciples, really a new covenant with the world. In that covenant of broken body and spilled blood we see a vision of love without limit, without selfishness, without power.
That table, that covenant of love, still shapes our life today. Like Israel, we are a free covenant people. Jesus doesn’t give us new rules, but he gives us practices to remember who we are, who he frees us to be. He washed the disciples’ feet to show them a new kind of power and care. Tonight we washed each others’ feet to remember that love isn’t abstract, it’s touch and care and comfort. Love is close, boundary breaking, a little uncomfortable.
We’re called to wash each others’ feet and to take part in each others’ lives. We’re called to practical, physical love and care. We are formed by the Lord who comes with a wash basin to love us.
We’re also formed by this table we share. Every time we break bread we remember that our Lord was broken for us. Every time we share a cup we remember that our Lord gave himself up to make us new. We are called to be a community that shares with each other and with the world. We are set free by Christ’s amazing love not to make a new club, not to make up new rules or to keep people out. Instead we’re set free to love like Jesus loves us. We’re set free to give ourselves for others. We’re set free to serve humbly and joyfully, not because we have to, but because we are shaped by the amazing love of Jesus.
We’re shaped by Jesus at the baptismal font, shaped by Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, shaped by Jesus breaking bread with human, disappointing disciples, shaped by Jesus on the cross to heal us.
This community, this fellowship is what Jesus died for. Jesus died for you and for me. He died so we could be free from sin and guilt, free to love others with his love. This table reminds us of the cost of his love and the community we share. This table reminds us that Jesus is with us in broken bread and poured wine. Jesus is with us in scripture and prayer. And Jesus is with us in loving ministry for others. We are Christ’s body, which means we are called to serve others with a love like his. By his wounds we are healed and sent to heal the world.
Thanks be to God.