Maundy Thursday April 6, 2023
“Hungry? Thirsty?” Revelation 21:6
Rev. John R. Larson Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. (Revelation 21:6)
Adult instruction classes are a joy. All the questions that no body will ask in a regular Bible class are asked in an adult instruction class. They have no fear. And when the question is asked, everyone says that they had always wondered that as well.
Of course, in the class I recently had we spent time talking about the Lord’s Supper. In case you didn’t know it, Sacraments – one of them being Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, is a big thing for Lutheran Christians. At the class we read the verse from I Corinthians, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” (I Corinthians 11:27-29)
What would that mean when it says that we can take this meal in an unworthy manner? What does it mean that we need to examine ourselves before we come to this table? What do you think? Have you ever asked those questions? Has anyone asked them of you?
Let me tell you how I answer those questions. This meal is for those who are baptized. This is a family meal and you have to be part of the family to receive it. Being part of the family comes when Jesus has claimed you as His own in the waters at the Baptismal font. Then one needs to be instructed. There needs to be an understanding, a belief of what we are receiving here. We need to understand who our God is and how this meal gives us all we need for eternal salvation. In the previous chapter Paul would remind the congregation, “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.” (I Corinthians 10:17)
We believe that we are receiving the very body of Jesus Christ at this table. We believe we are receiving the very blood of Jesus Christ here, as well. No symbols. Not just a plain memorial meal. Body and blood in a way that we can’t understand, but with a heart that believes its reality. Jesus said, “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” (John 6:55)
And the one who is worthy to come to this meal is the one who comes in brokenness. The one who examines themself will find their heart and soul and mind in poor condition and in need of repair. Jesus praises the one who is repentant. He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) Jesus says that He didn’t come for people who are well but only for people who are sick. Are you a sinner? Then you can come to this meal. Do you know that you have failed God’s commands and now you have a desire to change? This meal, then, is for you.
Baptized. Instructed. Believing. Repentant. Those four get you from there to up here, right? No. Something more. Something much bigger.
When our kids were little we took them to Disneyland. It was at Disneyland at that time when I had the best meal I’ve ever eaten. I still remember it. It was ham and cheese on a croissant bun. I also remember that I paid too much for it. Do you know why I still remember that sandwich from 30 years ago? I was hungry. Famished. At that moment it was the best meal in my entire life. I didn’t even mind paying twice what I would have paid outside the park.
Do you know what you need to have to receive this meal fully and completely? You have to have a hunger. You have to be thirsty. This can’t just be a habit. You need to yearn for what is happening here.
Psalm 42 begins, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Verses 1-2) Another psalm says, “I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the path I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” (Psalm 143:6-8)
When Jesus gave His beatitudes, He spoke about where the heart must be in relation to all that He wants to do within us, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” (Matthew 5:6) Do you hunger for what God wants to give you? Do you thirst for what He wants to provide?
In two different accounts in the Book of John Jesus speaks about the living drink that He wanted to give to all people. To the woman at the well He says, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.” (John 4:13-14) In John 7 Jesus says, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-38)
We hunger for God to take away our sins. We desire, earnestly, the peace God alone can give when our soul is made to be at rest once again. We are thirsty to be washed again, and for God’s Spirit to dwell within us. At the meal Jesus told His own, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. This cup is the new covenant in my blood, do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (See I Corinthians 11:24-25)
And, this feast, worth more than we could ever pay, is free. The very thing that we need more than anything – the gifts of Christ’s body and blood for our forgiveness are given to us freely. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” (Isaiah 55:1-2) In the Revelation of St. John the invitation of pure grace is given, “To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.” (Revelation 21:6)
This meal is divine food. This cup is divine drink. Hunger and thirst for it your entire life.
In some churches it is on the night of Maundy Thursday, Holy Thursday, when the youth receive Holy Communion for the first time. What a memorable moment. But it is not something they do for only one time. They will do it often. You will do it often.
Come to the meal. Come and receive God’s gift. It is for the baptized. The instructed. It is for the believing and the repentant. It is for the hungry and the thirsty. It is for you. Amen!!