06 Mar 2016

The Table


John 13:1-5, Matthew 26:26-29 The Table Pastor Jason Lim 06 March 2016 "Lord of eternity dwells in humanityKneels in humility and washes our feet"Jesus loved His disciples unto the end at the Table of the Last Supper. And this Table is available to you today. Come, hear how His love speaks to you today. Slides Audio **Right Click to Do

John 13:1-5, Matthew 26:26-29
The Table
Pastor Jason Lim
06 March 2016

"Lord of eternity dwells in humanityKneels in humility and washes our feet"Jesus loved His disciples unto the end at the Table of the Last Supper.And this Table is available to you today.Come, hear how His love speaks to you today. Slides Audio

Sermon Transcript

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A very good morning to all of you and welcome to Gospel Light Christian Church, our second English worship service this morning. It is a joy to have you with us, for some of you; you might be expecting the book of Hebrews, because we've been on the series of the book of Hebrews. But as was announced for the past two weeks, we are having a mini series right here in the month of March. We are interrupting in a sense from Hebrews, but because this is the month for which we will celebrate Easter and Good Friday, we feel it is appropriate for us to take a journey in the Passion Week. We like you to have a time of remembrance and may the Lord also use this time to bring you to a deeper devotion to Christ our Savior and what He has done for us. So this series is really looking at the last few days of our Lord's life before He rose to the heavens and this is a journey that takes us from the table to the tomb, five sermons from the table to the tomb and this morning we start right off at the table.


The table here refers to the last meal; Jesus will share with his disciples.  Let me ask you, have you ever thought about what you would have as your last meal, if you could have a choice. For some of us, it may be char kway teow [a kind of noodle dish] or orr luak [egg oyster] or KFC or Hokkien mee; I do not know what you would like. Some Teochew muay [teochew porridge], can already. But what would the Lord have as His last meal. Well, there are many people who have requested for last meal. I searched up the net and there are some like this criminal who is sentenced to lethal injection the next day, his last meal, he requested was simply two kinds of mint and chocolate chip ice cream. This other person, Stephen Anderson, he requested for grilled cheese sandwich, cottage cheese, corn mixture, peach pie and so on and so forth. Teresa Lewis wanted fried chicken, butter peas, apple pie, Dr. Pepper as a drink, something very simple, but they're those who can eat a lot like John Wayne Gacy who asked for 12 fried shrimp, a bucket of original recipe KFC, French fries and a pound of strawberries. Unfortunately I cannot find Asian bought ones, Asians example. Now these are what they wanted because probably these are the food they enjoy and before they're going to die, they want to enjoy it for the one last time.


But what would Jesus have for His last meal. Let me bring you to a scene some 2000 years ago. It is a Thursday night and Jesus has gathered His disciples, 12 of them in an upper room. It's a room on the second floor of a house. This is a borrowed guestroom not their own place, it's borrowed from someone. I can imagine that room dimly lit with candles, lamps not like this, but it's really not a romantic dinner because I believe the atmosphere in that room is thick with sorrow and grief and uncertain. The disciples knew that the master is going to die the very next day. I mean, Jesus has been hinting and telling them about the reality for long time now and it became very explicit in Matthew 26 where He says, you know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified. So they knew this is the last meal. The Master, whom they have followed for the past three years, is going to leave them. You can imagine the devastation, the weight and the burden as they gathered for this last meal with probably tears in their eyes. I mean they are concerned about the future as well, don't you think, what's going to happen to us, our Master is leaving us and we have left all to follow Him and now He's going to leave us, will we be also be crucified, will the religious leaders also come for us. This is a time of extreme tension and uncertainty, fears sadness.


Add to the complexity of emotions, what Luke tells us that a dispute also arose among them as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest, so there's as this debate, is that this dispute, this argument going on. I am the greatest no, no, no, no, I'm the greatest and they quarreled amongst themselves. I can understand that because the last day for them to prove their case before Jesus as to who should be the greatest, it's a jostling for position, there's envy, there's strive, mix with the sorrow and uncertainty, and that's the scene we have in the upper room. Now it's time for meal now, but before they were to have the meal, something needs to be done. It's like in Singapore, if you want to have a meal, what do you do before that, you got to wash your hands, but in those days, not only do you have to wash your hands, you have to wash your feet. You say this is strange, why would anyone to wash their feet when they go for a meal. Suppose I go to your house for a dinner, would you put a basin of water there and say Pastor Jason, you got Hong Kong feet, smelly feet, please wash your feet. I don't think anyone of you would do that. So why do they have to wash feet. It becomes even more puzzling when we see pictures that depict the last supper.


Twenty years ago, I was in Milan and of course, it's a fashion, shopping capital and when you go Milan, you probably see it, but I'm not interested in those things, so, I decided to visit the famous Leonardo da Vinci painting of the Last Supper in a church, restored church. I remember queuing up for an hour in the hot sun paying like $16 to just have one minute looking at this painting on the wall. Now this picture, a clearer painting of it shows Leonardo da Vinci's interpretation of what happened that night. Jesus, the Master is seated in the middle with the disciples flanking him on both sides. Now this is the picture I saw 20 years ago and this is a picture that is still stuck in my mind up to today. So when I look at the passage and say, why does he need to wash feet you say, there's no necessity to do so. After all, we eat like this and none of us wash feet. But the reality is that Leonardo da Vinci, though a great artist has got his interpretation of the situation absolutely wrong because Jesus and the disciples and the people then didn't sit like this and eat like this. A more accurate picture, maybe something like this, where they're seated on a low table. Now their feet are tucked behind them not below them, they are not sitting on a chair but they are sitting on the floor. An even better picture is the overview schematic like this, you could see all of them sitting at the inclination of maybe 45 or 60°, they propped themselves up on one arm and then they use the other arm and they pick up the food and they drop it in the mouth, the Roman style of eating and that's the way they ate and that's why Matthew 26 tells us Jesus reclined at the table. Hey, what do you mean by recline if it's sitting on a chair and he reclined it looks weird. He's lazy or what no no no no. Matthew includes it because this is the way they ate.


You can understand why now you have to wash your feet, because the feet is at the same level as where your face and your nose and your eyes are. You could almost see it there, your friends’ feet is just in front of you and your feet will be in front of your friend, and in those days, you better wash feet because people didn't walk around in shoes. They walked around with sandals and the roads are all muddy, dirty non-paved roads. It will be lots of mud, it may be lots of filth and in those days you have animals walking up and down the street and the sheep and goats, they don't go to the toilet, you know, they just walk and if they like it, they just poop, poop, poop. And it and it just drop along the way, I mean, as and when they like. So if you're not careful, and you wear your sandals and you step on, squish it goes all over your sandals your shoes your feet, and then now you go to the house for dinner you stick up your feet there wah, Peter sees your feet, hey a bit chow eh, hey how come you bring souvenir to our house aah and and what if you know, sometimes your feet, you just irritated, you just flip your toes a bit and one of them drops to the table. Now for all those scenarios you probably will be wise to wash your feet and therefore, that's the SOP in those days before you have a meal you wash your feet, that's what is done.


So who is to wash feet? Well usually when you go to someone's house, the servant of that house will wash your feet. If there are many servants, then the lowest servants will wash your feet. But, remember, this is a borrowed guest room. There is no servant there so Jesus and the disciples were gathered, but no one will wash the feet, none of the disciples will, the disciples wouldn't wash one another's feet because they quarreling about who will be the greatest. Peter, you shall wash my feet. No, I'm the greatest, you wash my feet. I'm sure that when they look at each other. They they they must be passing all those messages, no I'm not the, I'm not going to wash. I'm not going to do it. No, no, no you should do it, no, no, no I'm and every one knows that feet need to be washed, but everybody act blur, teh gong [act blur], nothing happened. Then the unimaginable took place. Without saying a word, without a word of rebuke or scolding, Jesus, according to John simply got up, put aside his outer garments, took a towel wrapped it around his waist, got a basin, stoop down and began to wash his disciples feet. This was absolutely amazing. Imagine the shock that came to the minds of the disciples, we are fighting who to be first, but, but, but you, Christ you would wash my feet. Peter couldn't accept this and so he shouted, no, no, no let it not be, you don't wash my feet Lord, let it not be! I mean, he could not believe this, I mean Jesus is going to the cross, the next day but here He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Majestic God humbles and stoops down to wash the feet of sinful man, including Judas Iscariot, who He knew would betray Him. But then again, we shouldn't be surprised, because the Bible says, for even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve. Sometime we don't quite believe this, sometimes you think, aah, that's just a nice thing for the Bible to say, just a nice thing for Jesus to speak about His own life. No, it's not just talk. He walked, he walked in humility. He washed the chow ka [smelly feet], the smelly feet of all His disciples. My friends, let me tell you something far more filthy washed that day, he did not just wash physical faeces and mud from the feet of sinful man. He actually is saying, I'm here to wash away the filth and the stench and the sins and the ugliness of all your sins, because He came to give His life a ransom for many. It's not just about the outward filth, He is cleaning something that is so offensive to God, sin and in this one act, He is telling them what He's going to do, He is go to clean them, wash them of their sins. He said if I do not wash you, you have no share with me. The reason I have to wash away so that you can have fellowship, communion, togetherness with me and I'm willing and I will and I desire to wash your feet.


This is our Servant King, amazing and stunning that our God could wash our filthy sins away. We sing a song in our church, meekness and majesty, I love these words here. The unsaved people's concept of God is someone who is far up there and he looks down and he sees people in misery and sin, and he says earn your way up to heaven. Maybe some gods may gloat over the misery of the people, but not our Servant King. He came down and stooped down and wash our sins away. Meekness and majesty, manhood and deity in perfect harmony the man who is God, the Lord of eternity dwells in humanity, kneels in humility and washes our feet, not just physical but spiritual sins because He is the Father's pure radiance, perfect in innocence yet learns obedience to death on the cross, suffering to give us life, conquering through sacrifice and as they crucify, prays Father forgive. What's our response, oh, what a mystery, meekness and majesty bow down and worship, for this is your God. we have an entirely only worthy God we worship today, flawless, perfects, stunning in His and glory and splendor in every way, Jesus washed their feet, and now it's time for meal. This meal, they enjoy together or they have together is the most significant meal in the Jewish calendar. It's the main meal of the day, main meal of the year. It's like our Chinese reunion dinner you, no matter where you are; you probably will try to make an effort to be back home for dinner. This is the meal, that is of most significance to the people of Israel, it's the Passover meal, and this is a meal by which they remember how God delivered their ancestors, delivered Israel out of Egypt away from the bondage of evil, Pharaoh and the story is a very touching one, it's a very powerful one, God has sent nine plagues to tell Pharaoh, let my people go, but Pharaoh won't and so it's time for the 10th and in the tenth plague God will send the Angel of death and the Angel of death will pass throughout the land of Egypt and kill every first born, doesn't matter if you are a Jew or Egyptian, doesn't matter if you are handsome or not, doesn't matter if you are old or young, doesn't matter if you are good or not good, every firstborn male dies because the Angel of death comes.


But God said to his people, now let me tell you how you could be saved from the Angel of death. Go get yourself a lamb, a lamb without blemish and kill this innocent lamb, slaughter it. Let its blood spill, take that blood, that innocent blood of the innocent lamb and paint it on the doors of your house so that when the Angel of death comes, and he sees the blood on the posts, the blood of the lamb he passes over, he skips this house and the firstborn in a family will be spared and this Passover meal is a story of redemption, of salvation, not because of any man's works, not because of any man's abilities, but all just because of the blood of the lamb. And so this is the meal, Jesus has with His disciples and it's fascinating when you read all four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, that there is no mention of any lamb. It's a Passover meal, but no, there's no mention of the lamb, why? Obviously the gospel writers wants us to see Jesus is the Lamb and every year for thousands of years, the Jews celebrated Passover. It's a, it's a picture, it's a anticipation of the coming Lamb, so every year they eat this meal, eat this lamb to remember and to remind themselves, the Lamb and the Lamb will come one day and Jesus right now is the Lamb and so the focus shifts from an animal to Himself and now He explains further by means of the bread that is before Him.


He took the bread and after blessing it, broke it and gave it to the disciples and said, take, eat, this is My body, this is what's going to take place, this is what's going to happen to Me. I'm going to be broken for you. Take this cup; drink this cup because this is a picture of a remembrance of the blood that is going to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sin. So Jesus is saying, I Am that Lamb that will take away the sin of the world. My body has to be broken. My blood has to be shed in order for you to have forgiveness of sin. I'm not just here to deliver you from Pharaoh, or Egypt or the Roman bondage; I'm here to deliver you from the ultimate bondage of sin. And this, Luke records, is the new covenant in my blood. I'm so glad we as a church have gone through the book of Hebrews, the new covenant is the supreme, sovereign, unilateral gracious work of God in man's heart to forgive him, to wash them of his sins, to give him a new heart that will beat for God, that will love God, that will serve Him, that will cause you to walk in His ways. And Jesus says, with this shedding of blood, the new covenant comes to you, the price is paid.


Do you know what Jesus is doing in the last meal at the table. He's not asking for French fries or KFC or char kway teow for Himself. This is a meal for the disciples, you see, they are all troubled with fears and anxieties and uncertainties, they are fighting with one another. And Jesus cuts through all that thick atmosphere with blade of His love. I love you guys, I'm going to die for you, my blood is shed for you and I am here to wash your feet and your lives. Going to the cross is not a mistake or misfortune, it is exactly what I've come to do, it is the prophecy of God that I'm fulfilling and I'm going to do all that for you because I love you and that's why the Bible tells us, He, He said to them, right at the beginning I have earnestly desired to eat this. Is it because he's hungry, is it because he likes bread, no, even to this point, he's loving his disciples loving them, encouraging them, strengthening them.


This is probably the most important meal in the disciples’ life isn't it? And if you asked them, hey, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, what do you remember of that day? I think John might have summarized it well when he said He loved them to the end, I remember, the Savior's love. Oh yeah I I know this can be a lesson on humility, this can be a lesson on many things, but you know what, He really loved us, right up to the end, right up to the last meal, He's loving us.


My friends, this morning we come to the table of love, your Savior's love for you. How will you respond, when you come? I want to ask you if you are here with us for the first time you say, I come to church. It's great that you come to church, but let me say this, God wants you to come to the table of love, how do you respond to this table of love. Well, He tells us this table of love is where He washes your feet. If I do not wash you, you have no share with Me, it is necessary for anyone who wants to have a relationship with God to be washed by Jesus, you can't be washed by yourself, Jesus must wash you because only the blood of Jesus is able to cleanse you. Jesus not only will wash your feet, He's going to give His body and His blood for your sins. John said something, he spoke about before this event of course he said, whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. Now he is not promoting cannibalism surely, but he is saying life, eternal life is not given to the religious, eternal life is not given to those who are born in a Christian home, eternal life is not given to those who memorized the Bible, eternal life is given to those who have Me in their lives, who receive Me personally, just like how you need to eat personally. My friends, this is the most non-discriminatory thing, don't you think, think about the Passover, it doesn't matter if you are smart Jew, or handsome, it doesn't matter, as long as you have the lamb, the blood of the Lamb, you are saved, as long as you have Christ, you are saved. This is the marvel of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not because of who we are or what we have done but all because of the Lamb, we stand secure, we stand in His grace, we are accepted in the beloved. This is the stunning message of love of the gospel. So let me ask you this morning, would you come to this meal, to this table of love and receive Jesus into your life, to turn from your sin and believe and trust Him.


I want to make application also to those who right here feel like the disciples, you are struggling with fears and doubts and anxiety and I know there's many of you here are going through hard times, cancer, retrenchment, family issues and you can't quite see ahead of you. It's all bad news, but you know something, the table of love, still stands. The disciples were encouraged, I believe, when Jesus said these things, I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day. He's saying this is not the end, we all called this the Last Supper, but really, this is not the Last Supper, I think this is the first supper, the first of many more, of millions of millions more of feasting and reunion, reunioning, sorry, of reuniting and having joy in our Savior, you realise that?  That's what Jesus is saying, you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, I am going to usher in a new kingdom and there you will be with Me. The table of love is where God says, I'm coming back I'm coming back and we will be together. Yesterday, I was reading the Bible with my kids picture Bible; we come to the very last chapter, a very good ending. That's what it says and we read about Revelation and about the new heavens, the new earth and I didn't even quite expect, I was just reading mindlessly almost just read and and when I read those words, it strucked me, there will be no sorrow, no tears, God will wipe away every tear, that is what we have been talking about. The disciples must have felt so lonely, worried, scared but I'm coming back for you guys, as you go through the hardships as you sang this morning when the evening comes, we could still bless the Lord, all our souls because He's coming back for us.


This is a message of salvation; this is a message of hope at the table. But let me say, lastly, this is at the table of love, is also a message of service, for I've given you an example, I love you, so go and do the same for others. If you have received my love, if you have tasted of my love and go and wash the feet of others as well. Do you know what it means to follow Jesus? It means to be a servant, it means that you are here to meet needs, to humble yourself, to denying yourself, to die for yourself so that you can give and you can be a blessing to others. We live in a day and age where churchgoers are fed this consumeristic mindset; I'm here in church because this is a good church for me. This is where I get this, get that, get this, get that and the moment I don't get it and don't get that, I'm going to skip church and change church.


Well, Jesus taught them that, they modeled for them that they what it means to die to self to say no to the crowns that you want to pursue but to say yes to the cross, He wants you to carry. And my friends, this this is this is not just talk. He’s saying, you need not just to know this, but you need to do them. It's … this is the thing about Christians right and for all of us, we, we hear God's Word and we say yah, I agree, Jesus loved us, I need to love others. But we stopped at thinking, we stopped at feeling, you say I really, really want to do this, but we have never gone to do anything like this, just like the disciples stand around, we know someone needs to wash feet, but we act blur. We see needs around and we don't do any thing. I'm proud, I'm thankful for many of you who are foot washers in this church.  Now I don't mean that we need to carry a basin in the towel every Sunday and say, pastor, this is a new way, I come to church. No there will be not much purpose for you to wash feet today, but the principle of service, of meeting needs can be applied in so many ways. Maybe there is someone new sitting beside you this morning, you know he is new, you have never seen him or at least he is new to you but you know what, you can easily act blur. I'm also new what, nobody talked to me also what. Never mind lah, he will find his own way lah. No, a foot washer humbles himself and says hi, are you new here, is there something you would like to find out, can you, can I be of service to you.



You see someone standing outside alone, awkward and every Gospeliter like the disciples, no lah, this one pastor's job, he will talk to them lah, this one befrienders, the befrienders would catch up with them I just teh gong, act blur, experts you know, for Gospel Light a lot of people, very smart one, when they see opportunity to invest, they invest very fast, when it comes to service we drag our feet. But then I'm persuaded, this is not you, this is not even the majority of you. I see many of you serve, I see many of you wash feet, I remember those days, and in Chinese construction workers’ outreach, every Sunday, hundreds of construction workers are bussed in, now what do you guys do, you cook for them, you, you you serve them, you layout the tables you lay out the food, you clean up the mess then, there is is a group of wonderful people in our church who cut their hair, their smelly dirty hair, but you you happily cut their hair, when I walk by sometimes I smell you know wah, quite strong. Of course, I dare not like that lah but I know the smell is there, I can't deny it. But I see all of you who are cutting hair wide smile because you're washing their feet and the reason why you are washing their feet is because you know, Jesus washed yours. It's a joy when you follow the example of Jesus. I I know about many of you who serve in the daily bread ministry. You go out to Chin Swee, York Hill area to give out the food, to befriend the disadvantage people, I, I rejoice in your heart practical deeds of love, meeting needs, not because your pastor told you to, but because you follow the example of Jesus Christ. The Telugu people, how you serve, the lucky Plaza outreach, how you guys cook and and go out there and reach out to those who may not have a nice meal to have throughout the week and over and over again, I see those foot washing believers, praise God for that. Some of you say I don't want to serve God, too much because if I serve God too much, I'll be disadvantaged in life, you know, if I humble myself people treat me badly, they take advantage of me and I'm not seen as wah, the top dog here. Let me assure you, actually not let me assure you, let Christ assure you. He said, blessed are you if you do them, no blessing for you today if you just know these things hear God's Word and then go back unchanged. But the blessing is for you when you follow his example.


May this table of love be a message of salvation for some, a message of hope for those who are struggling, and a message of service for you to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Let's bow for a word of prayer together. The passion, the suffering, the crucifixion is looming large, the very next day Jesus will go to the cross, but even on the last evening, He would show He loved His disciples unto the end. This is not a self-gratifying meal; this is a meal to encourage them, to cheer them, to show them to model for them, to assure them, to comfort them. My friends, this is the message God has for you this morning, the table of love as you go through your hardships, he's telling you I'm coming back for you, I'm are never going to leave you alone. It's tough my apostles died terrible deaths, but one day when my kingdom comes for millions and millions and millions and millions of years, we will feast for evermore. That's the hope, I hope you will see this morning and grab onto, that it may be an anchor for your soul.


Maybe for some of us today, we need to be challenged to deny the crowns and go for the cross, to serve, to have a fresh new perspective as to why you are in church, why you are called to be part of the church. It's not about me, myself and I, no blessings there, he that wants to save his life shall lose it, and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it in Jesus, this is the paradox of the Christian life, blessed are ye if you do them. So may the Good Lord bless His Word to all your hearts. Whatever the Lord is saying to you this morning, would you read, would you bring that back to the Lord in prayer and ask him to do a deeper work. Maybe for some of you, you are still hoping that by coming to church, you can have fellowship by being a good person, you may earn your salvation, no, if Jesus doesn't wash your life, you cannot any communion, salvation is found only in Jesus Christ, God's Son, He is the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. You need to take Him in personally in your life, so repent, believe and you will be saved. Non-discriminatory, doesn't matter if you are Chinese, Indian, Filipino, doesn't matter if you have been in church 10 years or one day you need the blood of the Lamb upon your life and judgment will pass over you. Make that decision today; take Him to be your Savior. So Father we thank You for this hour as we hear Your Words, see through those truths and decisions in our hearts that we may then respond in faith and obedience unto your glory and honour. Thank you for all my brethren, all the guests who are here today, Lord, bless them richly with the knowledge of the love of Your Son. Thank You, we pray in Jesus Name, amen.

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