Saturday, February 2, 2013

The King's Table in Matthew

Matthew 26:17 "Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”

Jesus Christ the King in Matthew's Gospel
As we come to the Gospel of Matthew, we are introduced to Jesus Christ the King.  By human bloodline He is descended from the famous King David, King of Israel, as revealed in Matthew 1:1-17.  By virtue of the fact that Jesus Christ is also fully Divine He is the King of Kings, holding all power in Heaven and on earth, as stated clearly in Matthew 28:18.  Matthew's aim was to legally, theologically and historically demonstrate Jesus Christ as the true King of the Jews, and ultimately King of Kings.  Matthew 2:2 for example has the Magi coming from the East to worship the Christ child Whom they term: "King of the Jews".  As you fast-forward 33 years later to His crucifixion, we discover that Pilate had written on a board nailed above Christ's head on the cross: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews". (Matthew 27:11,29,37). 

The Lord's Supper in Matthew is the King's Table
With that brief survey of Matthew's Gospel and theme, the aim of today's blog is to zero in on what Matthew portrays to us concerning the account of the Lord's Supper in Matthew 26:19-30.  As a Christian, you may periodically celebrate the Lord's Supper with your church.  As a Pastor I have the privilege of leading our church periodically in the celebration of this Covenant Meal insituted by our Lord.  Southern Baptists refer to the Lord's Supper as an ordinance: meaning that it was "ordained" or "commanded" by the Lord Jesus in the Gospels, preached in Acts and explained or discussed in the Epistles.1  Only one other activity fits that definition: Believer's Baptism.  To me, when I come to the Lord's table, I learn something new, and the account here in Matthew is no different. 

As we look briefly through Matthew's record of Jesus instituting this Covenant Meal with His disciples (and ultimately the church - see 1 Corinthians 11:23), I want you and I to consider this question for today: What is necessary for you to know as you approach the scene of the King's Table here in Matthew 26:17-30? 

Jesus The King is in Charge.  Matthew 26:17-19
What did the disciples say in Matthew 26:17 - "Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”  We as Christians have got to remember that Jesus Christ is the King, we are His people and this is His table.  He is meeting with us by the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  As we take up those symbols of His body and blood, He is so pleased, by His Spirit, to remind us and impress on our hearts that He is in charge.  Our honest attitude ought to be: "King Jesus, what do you want me to do for you?"  The reason why we as a local church body celebrate this meal together is to be reminded of this fact that Jesus the King is in charge.  Matthew spells out for us what all Jesus is in charge of as The True King:

1. Jesus in the King of Salvation.  Mt 1:21
2. Jesus is the King over His Church.  Mt 16, 17, 18
3. Jesus is the Appointed King in Judgment.  Mt 24-25
4. Jesus is your King, dear Christian.  Mt 26:17
5. Jesus is the King of all things.  Mt 28:18

Jesus the King's Cross.  Matthew 26:20-28
There is no question, everytime we approach the King's table, we are reminded of the fact that Jesus Christ is in charge.  However before the Crown of Gold was placed on His Head, there had to be a crown of thorns.  The bulk of the liturgy in Jesus' institution of the Lord's supper focuses around the cross.  Now you have to realize that Jesus' actions took place in the context of the Old Testament Covenant Meal known as the Passover.2  Scriptures such as these, time and time again, connect Jesus the King's activity as being the Lamb of God who would die for the sins of the world. (John 1:29, 3:16, Revelation 5). 

With that said, we can see in A,B,C,D fashion the King's cross as the central focal point of the King's table here in Matthew 26:20-28:

1. Agony of the cross.  In John 13:21, we see Jesus entering into His agony at the beginning of this meal.  The Agony of the cross was already starting to be laid upon His shoulders.

2. Betrayal that led to the cross.  Judas' betrayal is mentioned three times here in Matthew 26:21,23,24.

3. Crucifixion on the cross.  Jesus Himself mentions how the bread and the fruit of the vine picture His body and blood that would be shed on the cross by His impending crucifixion in Matthew 26:26-28

4. Death as a result of the cross.  By shedding His blood and giving His body, Jesus was to die on the cross as the sinner's substitute. 

Only the King of Kings, exalted in the Heavens, would stoop to the lowest possible level to redeem those who on the lowest possible level would by grace through faith be raised to be with Him. (Ephesians 2:5-10; Philippians 2:5-11).  But notice a third truth we learn as we gather at the King's Table here in Matthew....

The King is Coming Again.  Matthew 26:29-30
Jesus says to His disciples in Matthew 26:29 “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”  In the Passover celebration Jesus and the disciples would had drank out of four cups situated on the table.  Each cup was to be drank from throughout the course of the meal.  Basing the meaning of each cup off of Exodus 6:1-8, the Jews assigned the following meanings:

1st Cup = Cup of Sanctification.  Exodus 6:1-4God setting apart His people
2nd Cup = Cup of Deliverance. Exodus 6:5 God Breaking the chains of slavery
3rd Cup = Cup of Redemption. Exodus 6:6 God redeeming His people out of Egypt into Freedom with Him
4th Cup = Cup of the Kingdom. Exodus 6:7-8 God aims to make the people a Kingdom of Priests who will worship Him and be with Him, and He with them as their King.

As Jesus would had been celebrating this meal with His disciples, they would had went through the 1st and 2nd cups.  Luke's Gospel records Jesus referring to two separate cups.  There was the one cup which He said signified His redemptive act, which would had been the third cup in the Passover meal.  The other cup of which he could not drink would had been the fourth cup - the cup of the Kingdom.  Thus Jesus indicated that the Covenant Meal, and he being the King of the Table that night, was no doubt centered primarily around the third cup - the redemption of which He was going to accomplish in a matter of hours the next day.  But we must hasten to add that the fourth cup has yet to be drank! Christ, the true King, is coming again! If you by grace through faith have believed on Him, you will be able to share that cup with Christ when He returns. 

Truly Christians are a people of the two comings: His 1st coming and 2nd coming, His cross and His crown.  The King's table reminds us that Jesus Christ is not a dead Savior, but a Risen, Reigning and Returning One!  He is the King - Let us Worship Him and Serve Him and Enjoy Him at His table!

End Notes:__________________
1. It is truly significant to note that the Old Testament offers some significant pictures and events that preview or foreshadow the Lord's Supper Covenant Meal:

-The first is Abraham and Melchizedek in Genesis 14.  Melchizedek
was a Christophany or Old Testament revelation of Jesus Christ. (Psalm 110; Hebrews 5 and 7)  He came to Abraham with bread and wine, elements that were used to signify His blessing and recognition of Abraham's identity in the sight of God.  Abraham of course was the father of faith and the Hebrew nation. 

-The second picture is that of the Passover celebration, commemorating God's deliverance of Israel across the Red Sea.  The Jews were to slaughter a lamb and spread its blood upon the door posts and gates of their homes so as to abate the judgment of  the death of the first born by Death Angel "passing over".  Being that the Jews fled Egypt in the middle of the night, unleavened bread was included in the festival of passover.  Over time, the fruit of the vine and four cups were included to bring out richer meaning to the meal.

-The third & final Old Testament picture of the Lord's Supper that I want to mention is when King David in 2 Samuel 9 showed kindness to Saul's grandson Mephiboseth.  Saul of course had tried to kill David, and pursued him for many years.  Furthermore, Mephibosheth would had been considered an enemy of the state, coupled with the fact that he was lame in both feet.  Despite those facts, David chose to show kindness and invite Mephibosheth to His table to "eat at the king's table regularly". (1 Samuel 9:15)  Isn't that what the King's table is in the New Testament church, the King inviting us to come who were lame in the feet, descended at one time from an enemy, Adam and ultimately Satan. (Ephesians 2:1-4) Yet He being rich in mercy gave His life.  The King's table reminds us of who we are and whose we are. 

2. Back in Exodus 12 God instituted that meal in lieu of what would be His deliverance of the Jews out of Egypt via the Red Sea. Every year they were to celebrate Passover. What Jesus was doing was bringing everything that meal and event foreshadowed to its logical and prophetic end - namely Himself. Jesus Christ came to be God's lamb who would die for the sins of the people. (Isaiah 53; John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7) He came as the Lamb of God who would die for the sins of the world so that time could be given for all men to have a chance to hear the Gospel. He came to purchase His church with His blood. (Acts 20:28)

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