Saturday, March 24, 2018

P1 - A Way To Prepare One's Heart And Mind For The Lord's Table

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Matthew 26:17-20 "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?” 18 And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”’” 19 The disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.
20 Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples."


Preparation. The meaning of the term "preparation" conveys "putting things into order" in anticipation of the main event at hand. Too often in my own Christian walk, I find little time spent in "quietness, stillness and preparation" for whatever God has planned to bring to my attention. The ancient Jews placed much emphasis upon "preparation". The spirituality of the Old and New Testament scriptures was not treated haphazardly. An prime example of this point is in how the Jews prepared for the Passover celebration.

To ready the heart and mind for the reception of the Passover was just as important as the actual event itself. A typical Jewish family would spend an entire year in advance. Central to the celebration of the Passover was the lamb. Lambs that were a year-old and without blemish were fit-candidates for selection by the family. Once the lamb was selected on the first day of the given Passover week (i.e. Sunday, further preparations were made to eventually roast the lamb per God's instructions to His people through Moses in Exodus 12.

Eventually, the Jews were commanded to travel far and wide to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. Preparation focused one's intention and will on bringing pleasure to their Lord. The external rites associated with Passover and the later New Covenant meal of the Lord's Supper were Divinely given to order the interior lives of God's people. To neglect preparation of one's heart and mind in the things of God can lead to a later inability to digest later truths God wants to impart through His word.

What Jesus would do with His disciples in the institution of Lord's Table of communion entailed transferring the Passover celebration into the New Covenant meal for the church. Clearly this process required "preparation". To achieve this event, Jesus told his disciples to "prepare" a place where they would celebrate.

So how can one prepare for participating in the Lord's supper celebration? Let's offer one main point for today and focus on further thoughts in the next post.

Consider the privilege of the cost of following Jesus. Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8  

Each of the four Gospels record Jesus' final meal with His disciples in the closing hours leading to His arrest, trials, tortures and crucifixion. Matthew, Mark and John record the event of Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus. John 12:3 records the following details of Mary's act of devotion:

"Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume."

Judas' negative reaction to her act reveals the costliness of what she did. The perfume itself was high quality. The fragrance that would suffuse that place would accompany our Lord in that final meal with His disciples, as well as His journey to the cross. No doubt what Mary did was of very great cost. The cost of preparation on her part bespeaks of the much greater cost paid for our salvation by the Lord Jesus. Jesus indicates that what Mary did was to prepare for His pending burial following His crucifixion, as expressed in Mark 14:8

"She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial."

Whenever any Christian is getting ready to celebrate the Lord's supper, they ought to carefully consider the privilege of the price paid to follow Jesus. Jesus Himself reminds His followers of how counting the cost and dying to oneself is at the heart of discipleship (see Matthew 10:39; 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:23-24; 17:33; John 12:21-25). 

Too often Christians complain about inconveniences. The self-indulgence of our Western world is at odds with the call of Christ to "die to oneself". I frequently find myself wrangling with my flesh. The principle of "self", namely "me-in-me", imposes itself on that impulse to follow my Lord. Self must die daily. There is an extravagance expressed in Mary of Bethany's love for her Lord that is absent in so much of Christian living.

Sadly, we never experience an extravagance of love for Jesus until we are willingly or actively giving of ourselves to others for His sake. Jesus Himself commented that what Mary did would find itself expressed in the sharing of the Gospel. The fact we find her lavishing of love on our Lord in the Gospel records confirms this point. So, in preparing for the Lord's supper, one ought to consider the privilege of the cost of following Jesus.

More next time....

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