A Royal Feast
24 Feb 2007, Dr Barry Wright
(Barry is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
A ROYAL FEAST
The apostle Paul had just arrived in the city of Ephesus with two Jewish Christians by the names of Priscilla and Aquila. It was here that he was to enter the local synagogue to reason with the small number of Jews who resided there. Ephesus at this time was the bustling and famous capital city of the Greek district of Ionia and was the centre of worship for Artemis, the Roman goddess Diana. Pilgrims from all over the known world were to visit this magnificent site.
The reception Paul received from the Jewish community must have been favourable because they begged him to stay longer. However, he did not consent, but took leave of them saying in Acts 18: 21, 'I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing. And he sailed from Ephesus.
There are many who suggest that the feast Paul was anxious to attend was to be the feast of the Passover. However, we will never know all the reasons why he had such an urge to be there. We know that Acts 20: 22 and 21: 10-13 tells us that Paul had received repeated warnings that severe persecution awaited him in Jerusalem if he went there, but it seems that nothing could keep him from going and witnessing for the Lord Jesus Christ whom he loved. It seems that this Passover service was to take his full priority.
Our Scripture Reading in Luke 22: 12-18 also makes clear that prior to this event Jesus, with fervent desire, wished to eat the Passover Supper with His disciples before he was to suffer on the cross of Calvary.
This meal was indeed to be a royal feast in every sense of the word.
It was a feast that was instituted by the King of Glory. It was given by His example.
This was to be a feast that was to involve all of the love that heaven could give.
This was also to be a feast for the Christian family. 1Cor 10: 16,17 says: 'Is not the cup of thanksgiving, for which we give thanks, a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break, a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.'
This was to be a royal feast
Why is it that we need to keep it? Why is it? Why did Paul see it as imperative that he go to the feast in Jerusalem and to be with the believers there? This is a very important question, as many in our churches today seem to be unaware of the true implications of taking part.
First of all the Lord himself commands us in 1 Cor 11: 24 to do this in remembrance of Him.
Taking part in this royal feast becomes a shield for all believers against the day of judgement.
The Communion Supper is a memorial service commemorating the infinite sacrifice of our Lord and Master. 'No believer who truly understands the awesome holiness of God's wrath and the terrible hopelessness that comes from personal sin can fail to be overwhelmed by the deep love of Jesus for each of us, and the wonder of God's gracious gift of eternal atonement through Christ. We need to remember that through Jesus, God will present us "faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding Joy" (Jude 24).' Lockyer Sr., 1986: 118)
By missing or bypassing this service we miss out on the wonderful blessings God wishes to bestow. If we are found in Christ, it should become natural for us to want to take part.
The Scriptures make abundantly clear that everyone for whom Christ died should acknowledge His death, in His behalf, at the communion table.
Everyone who professes to believe in the atonement made for our sins ought to be one of the happiest of all communicants.
As such, all who want their sins covered by the blood of Jesus Christ need to take part in this solemn service.
Everyone who believes in the soon coming of our Lord will desire this wonderful opportunity.
How should we come to this Royal Feast?
The Scriptures tell us in 1Cor 11: 28 that 'a man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup' and in 2 Cor 13: 5 Paul says, 'Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you - unless, of course you fail the test?'
Galations 2: 20 suggests that we come 'In humble gratitude to our Lord for His infinite sacrifice for us.
We also need to come in the spirit of complete reconciliation with our brethren and with complete separation from every known sin in our life.
While this service is a witness to our reconsecration to God, to His word and to His cause, we should all come with joy and gratitude to be accounted worthy of sharing together our hope in the soon coming of Jesus Christ our Lord
If we have this joy we will be like Paul in his anxious desire to attend the feast in Jerusalem, making it our first priority.
Let us remember again this morning the importance of forgiveness and the opportunity we have to rid ourselves of pride in the preparatory service as we now break for the 'lesser baptism', the washing of the feet.
This morning as we have reflected on the reasons why we have taken part in this very special service that was ordained by Jesus Himself, we need to recognise the sacrifice that He made on our behalf. As we have shared the emblems of His broken body and spilt blood, the enormity of what He did will never be truly understood this side of the kingdom.
However, we are admonished to continue this royal feast until He comes and one day soon we will have the opportunity of participating in that great reunion as we meet with the Lord and with each other in that earth made new. My prayer this morning is that we will all take the opportunity to be found in that special place.
Lockyer, H. (Ed) (1986) Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
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