Tuesday, March 10, 2015
"The Road to Emmaus: The Lord's Supper" Sermon: Luke 24:13-35
“The Road to Emmaus: The Lord’s Supper”
March 8, 2015 Second Reformed Church
We continue our Lenten look at five points of biblical church growth.
As we noted: First, if we want to grow as Christians and the Church, the Word of God must be central to our life and worship. Second, if we want to grow as Christians and the Church, we must obey Jesus and evangelize. Third, if we want to grow as Christians and the Church, we must engage in regular hospitality and fellowship with non-Christians and our fellow Christians. Fourth, if we want to grow as Christians and the Church, we must pray rightly, privately, and corporately. Fifth, if want to grow as Christians and the Church, we must receive the Lord's Supper frequently, properly and worthily.
Last week we considered the centrality of the Word of God – how the Word of God must be central to our lives and worship, because it is only in the Word of God that we find the Only Way to salvation – the One Who is the Incarnate Word of God – the Son of God in human flesh, Jesus – Who explained that every text of the Word of God – of the Bible – points to Him. In some way everything is about Jesus – so, He is central, whether we see it or acknowledge it or not, but if we want to grow in faith and obedience, we ought to seek His Kingdom and His Righteousness – as we see Him as the focus and the center of every word of the Bible. If we strive after this, God, the Holy Spirit, will lead us and enable us to find Jesus in all the Scripture – that He would be glorified – and the whole Trinity with Him.
And so we saw, last week, that the point of the sermon is to glorify God and build up the saints by exposing Jesus and His Gospel in all of the Scriptures.
What is the point of the Lord’s Supper?
We in the Protestant Church have largely relegated the Lord’s Supper to an empty memorial – part of the holiday decor – but nothing with true power and necessity.
The Roman Catholic Church has recognized the power and necessity of the frequent reception of the Lord’s Supper, but they have confused the physical body of Jesus of Nazareth with the elements – and elevated the Sacrament above the Word of God and its preaching.
Let us again turn to the history of the Emmaus Road encounter:
“That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?’ And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?’ And he said to them, ‘What things?’ And they said to him, ‘Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.’ And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
As we saw last week: the Word of God must be central and primary to our lives and worship, because all of the Word of God concerns Jesus and His Gospel.
Paul explains that the preaching of the Word of God – the proclaiming of Jesus and His Gospel, and that all things in Scripture concern Jesus – is the means by which a person receives the faith to believe in Jesus savingly:
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?’ So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17, ESV).
It is important to understand that the preaching of the Word of God – and its centrality to our lives and worship – is the usual means that God uses to bring a person to saving faith. It is through the proclamation of the Gospel – as found throughout all of the Word of God – that God has chosen to use as the means by which He draws people to salvation through faith alone in His Son.
It is important for us to understand this, because the Roman Catholic Church makes the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper the primary means by which God brings a person to saving faith – and that is not what we find in the Scripture.
Yet, against some Protestants, we must also see that the Lord’s Supper is not just a “throw away” – something of no importance – or minimal importance.
Let us continue:
“So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?’ And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.”
After Jesus preached Himself to the disciples on the road to Emmaus and showed them that all the Scripture pointed to Him, He went home with them. Now, they did not recognize Him yet, but, as they confessed, there had been a burning in their hearts – God had drawn them to the Word through faith and was causing them to come to faith and belief in God the Savior Who would be revealed to them.
Now, we need to remember that they did not have the New Testament – in proclaiming the Savior as the central theme of all of Scripture – even though the disciples understood that and were drawn by God to salvation – it had not yet been revealed to them Who the Savior was – it was not confirmed to them that their hope in Jesus as Savior was correct.
So Jesus ate with them. And what else did He do? “He took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.”
And we might say, “So what?”
Hear part of Matthew’s account of the Last Supper:
“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom’” (Matthew 26:26-29, ESV).
And Paul’s record:
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26, ESV).
Did you hear it?
He took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them.
He took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them.
He took the bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them.
Jesus celebrated the Lord’s Supper with the disciples He met on the road to Emmaus.
Here we see that the preaching of the Word is primary, yet connected to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Here we see worship includes Word and Sacrament.
We see this in the early church:
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved”
(Acts 2:42-47, ESV).
The early church was centered on the preaching of the Word of God, involved in fellowship and hospitality, received the Lord’s Supper, joined together in prayer, and evangelized. Five things which showed the health and growth of the Church and each Christian.
And in I Corinthians 11:17-22, we are told that whenever they gathered together as the Church, they received the Lord’s Supper. The early Church understood that the Lord’s Supper was received alongside of the preaching of the Word of God.
And so, we’re back to the question: What is the point of the Lord’s Supper?
What happened when the two disciples were served the elements by Jesus?
“When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.”
The point of the Lord’s Supper is to glorify God and build up the saints by exposing Jesus and His Gospel in the elements and their reception. The Lord’s Supper is one of two authorized, visual displays of the Gospel (baptism being the other) which occur alongside of the preaching of the Word of God.
So, we see that the Gospel is preached through the proclaiming of the Word of God and then it is buffeted by the reception of the Lord’s Supper through which the Gospel is proclaimed in the elements and their reception.
There is no worship without the Word of God, but along with the reading and the preaching of the Word of God, we have the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, in which we meet Jesus again, through the symbols of bread and the cup. Jesus meets with us and opens our eyes to the fact that His body was broken and His blood poured out for all those who would believe. We join together with all Christians throughout time and space in affirming that Jesus, the Son of God was broken and poured out for the glory of God and our salvation – and He has left us His Word and also this Sacrament, through which we have a visual display of the Gospel.
God has graciously sent the Gospel out such that it presents itself to our heart, mind, soul, and strength – our body – through visual and tactile means.
That does not mean, however, that we are allowed to use any symbolism we want to convey the Gospel. No, there are only two approved visual presentations of the Gospel – baptism, which is once for each person, and the Lord’s Supper, which occurs whenever we gather together to hear the Word of God read and preached.
And so we come, having believed the Word of God, to receive the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. We “see” in visual symbols what Jesus has done for us in the Gospel, as He meets with us and the Holy Spirit applies the Word of God to us.
May we respect the Lord’s Supper as the “help meet” of the reading and preaching of the Word, and look forward to gathering together to receive the symbols again alongside the Word, as we remember that this is all to the glory of God and for the revealing of Jesus and His Gospel.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, we thank You for not leaving us alone, by sending Your Word that we would know the Savior You sent, and by also giving us the Lord’s Supper, that we could see the Gospel in these symbols. Open our eyes, grow our faith and obedience, and change us into the Image of Your Son. For it is in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.