Love to the Uttermost – Sunday

Such Amazing Resurrection Love

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father. (John 10:17–18)

Why does Jesus say this? Why does he stress his willingness to die? Because if it weren’t true—if his death were forced on him, if it weren’t free, if his heart weren’t really in it—then a big question mark would be put over his love for us.

The depth of his love is in its freedom. If he didn’t die for us willingly—if he didn’t choose the suffering and embrace it—then how deep is his love, really? So he stresses it. He makes it explicit. It comes out of me, not out of circumstances, not out of pressure, but out of what I really long to do.

Jesus is stressing to us that his love for us is free. He seems to hear some enemy slander saying, “Jesus doesn’t really love you. He’s a mercenary. He’s in it for some other reason than love. He’s under some kind of constraint or external compulsion. He doesn’t really want to die for you. He’s just got himself somehow into this job and has to submit to the forces controlling him.” Jesus seems to hear something like that, or anticipate it. And he responds, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” So he is pressing this on us to see if we will believe his protest of love, or if we will believe the opposite—that his heart is really not in this.

Anybody who makes a statement like that is either mentally deranged, or lying, or God. I have authority from inside death, as a dead man, to take life back again, when I please. Now what’s the point here? Well, which is harder: to control when you die, or to give yourself life again once you are dead? Which is harder: to say, “I lay my life down on my own initiative”? Or to say, “I will take my life back again after I am dead”?

The answer is obvious. And that’s the point. If Jesus could—and did—take his life back again from the dead, then he was free indeed. If he controlled when he came out of the grave, he certainly controlled when he went into the grave.

So here’s the point. The resurrection of Jesus is given to us as the confirmation or evidence that he was indeed free in laying down his life. And so the resurrection is Christ’s testimony to the freedom of his love.

The Meaning of Easter

Of all the great things that Easter means, it also means this: it is a mighty “I meant it!” behind Christ’s death. I meant it! I was free. You see how free I am? You see how much power and authority I have? I was able to avoid it. I have power to take up my life out of the grave. And could I not, then, have devastated my enemies and escaped the cross?

My resurrection is a shout over my love for my sheep: It was free! It was free! I chose it. I embraced it. I was not caught. I was not cornered. Nothing can constrain me to do what I do not choose to do. I had power to take my life from death. And I have taken my life from death. How much more, then, could I have kept my life from death!

I am alive to show you that I really loved you. I freely loved you. Nobody forced me to it. And I am now alive to spend eternity loving you with omnipotent resurrection love forever and ever.

Come to me, all you sinners who need a Savior. And I will forgive you and accept you and love you with all my heart forevermore.

These readings are produced from DesiringGod and freely available for distribution here: https://www.desiringgod.org/books/love-to-the-uttermost

Love to the Uttermost – Saturday

A Holy Week Volcano

Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him. (Luke 22:63–65)

As I read these terrible words, I found myself saying to Jesus, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Jesus. Forgive me!” I felt myself to be an actor here, not just a spectator. I was so much a part of that ugly gang that I knew I was as guilty as they were. I felt that if the rage of God should spill over onto those soldiers and sweep me away, too, justice would have been done. I wasn’t there, but their sin was my sin. It would not have been unjust for me to fall under their sentence.

Has it ever bothered you that sometimes in the Old Testament when one man sins, many get swept away the punishment God brings? For example, when David sinned by taking a census of the people (2 Samuel 24:10), “there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men” (2 Samuel 24:15). In another example, Achan kept some of the booty from Jericho and his whole family was stoned (Joshua 7:25). Maybe my experience in reading Luke 22 is a clue to the divine justice in this.

My Volcanic Rebellion

An analogy came to my mind. The hearts of humanity are like a molten mantle beneath the surface of the whole earth. The molten lava beneath the earth is the universal wickedness of the human heart—the rebellion against God and the selfishness toward people. Here and there a volcano of rebellion bursts forth which God sees fit to judge immediately. He may do so by causing the scorching, destructive lava to flow not only down the mountain which erupted, but also across the valleys which did not erupt, but which have the same molten lava of sin beneath the surface.

The reason I confess the sin of beating Jesus, even though I wasn’t there, is that the same lava of rebellion is in my own heart. I have seen enough of it to know. So even though it does not burst forth in such a volcanic atrocity as the crucifixion, it is still deserving of judgment. If God had chosen to rain the lava of their evil back on their own heads and some of it consumed even me, I would not be able to fault God’s justice.

We may wonder why God chooses to recompense some evils immediately and not others. And we may wonder how he decides whom to sweep away in the judgment. Why seventy thousand? Why not fifty thousand, or one hundred, or ten? Why Achan’s wife and not the greedy neighbor two tents down? I doubt that answers are available to us now. We are left to trust that these decisions come from a Wisdom so great that it can discern all possible effects in all possible times and places and people. How widely the lava of one person’s rebellion and judgment will flow lies in God’s hands alone.

And I believe from Romans 8:28 that, even though the lava of recompense overtakes me at a distance from the volcano, there is mercy in it. I do not deserve to escape, for I know my own heart. But I trust Christ, and so I know the judgment will be turned to joy. Though he slay me, yet will I trust him. For precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

These readings are produced from DesiringGod and freely available for distribution here: https://www.desiringgod.org/books/love-to-the-uttermost

Love to the Uttermost – Friday

What Good Friday Is All About

Consequently, he [Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

The great passion of the writer of Hebrews is that we “draw near” to God (Hebrews 4:16, 7:25, 10:22, 11:6). Draw near to his throne to find all the help we need. Draw near to him, confident that he will reward us with all that he is for us in Jesus. And this is clearly what he means in Hebrews 10:22, because verse 19 says that we have confidence “to enter the holy place,” that is, the new heavenly “holy of holies,” like that inner room in the old tabernacle of the Old Testament where the high priest met with God once a year, and where his glory descended on the ark of the covenant.

So the one command, the one exhortation, that we are given in Hebrews 10:19–22 is to draw near to God. The great aim of this writer is that we get near God, that we have fellowship with him, that we not settle for a Christian life at a distance from God, that God not be a distant thought, but a near and present reality, that we experience what the old Puritans called communion with God.

This drawing near is not a physical act. It’s not building a tower of Babel, by your achievements, to get to heaven. It’s not necessarily going into a church building, or walking to an altar at the front. It is an invisible act of the heart. You can do it while standing absolutely still, or while lying in a hospital bed, or while sitting in a pew listening to a sermon.

Drawing near is not moving from one place to another. It is a directing of the heart into the presence of God who is as distant as the holy of holies in heaven, and yet as near as the door of faith. He is commanding us to come, to approach him, to draw near to him.

The Center of the Gospel

In fact, this is the very heart of the entire New Testament gospel, isn’t it? That Christ came into the world to make a way for us to come to God without being consumed in our sin by his holiness. ›

  • “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
  • “For through him [Christ] we both have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). ›
  • “We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:11).

This is the center of the gospel—this is what the Garden of Gethsemane and Good Friday are all about—that God has done astonishing and costly things to draw us near. He has sent his Son to suffer and to die so that through him we might draw near. It’s all so that we might draw near. And all of this is for our joy and for his glory. He does not need us. If we stay away he is not impoverished.

He does not need us in order to be happy in the fellowship of the Trinity. But he magnifies his mercy by giving us free access through his Son, in spite of our sin, to the one Reality that can satisfy us completely and forever, namely, himself. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

These readings are produced from DesiringGod and freely available for distribution here: https://www.desiringgod.org/books/love-to-the-uttermost

Love to the Uttermost – Thursday

Thursday of the Commandment

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)

Today is Maundy Thursday. The name comes from the Latin mandatum, the first word in the Latin rendering of John 13:34, “A new commandment (mandatum novum) I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” This commandment was given by Jesus on the Thursday before his crucifixion. So Maundy Thursday is the “Thursday of the Commandment.”

This is the commandment: “love one another: just as I have loved you.” But what about Galatians 5:14? “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” If the whole law is fulfilled in “Love your neighbor as yourself,” what more can “Love one another as Christ loved you” add to the fulfillment of the whole law?

I would say that Jesus did not replace or change the commandment, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” He filled it out and gave it clear illustration. He is saying,

Here is what I mean by “as yourself.” Watch me. I mean: Just as you would want someone to set you free from certain death, so you should set them free from certain death. That is how I am now loving you. My suffering and death is what I mean by ‘as yourself.’ You want life. Live to give others life. At any cost.

So John says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). Was Jesus loving us “as he loved himself ”? Listen to Ephesians 5:29–30, “No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

In the horrors of his suffering, Christ was sustained “by the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). And that joy was the everlasting gladness of his redeemed people, satisfied in the presence of the risen king.

Therefore, let us see the greatest love in action on Maundy Thursday and tomorrow on Good Friday. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). He loved us to the uttermost. And let us be so moved by this love that it becomes our own. “He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” This is the commandment. This is the Thursday.

These readings are produced from DesiringGod and freely available for distribution here: https://www.desiringgod.org/books/love-to-the-uttermost

The Evening before – for Young families

On Thursday evening, before bedtime, spend time with the family to read these 5 scriptures, remembering the moments that led up to the crucifixion of our Saviour.

For a template that suits an older audience, click HERE.

Form of Service

There are 5 readings. 5 candles can be lit, and after each reading, one candle is extinguished. This helps convey the approaching darkness of the crucifixion.

If you wish to also hold Communion together, request the instructions from Malcolm (071 702 1331, or malcolm@knysnabaptist.org.za). Or see here – Communion Notice.

Preparation

  1. A Lamp / or enough light to read by – Decide who will read which scriptures
  2. Bibles or printed scriptures below
  3. Five lit candles
  4. Optional: Communion laid out with glasses and unbroken bread
    • If you wish to hold communion, please request the template from Malcolm ASAP. The elders have developed an important document for this.
  5. You might also want to play some quietly appropriate music beforehand to prepare the mood.

Order

  1. Song: Trust and Obey – available by clicking here
  2. First Reading – Jesus washes His followers feet John 13:1-20
    • Extinguish first candle
  3. Second Reading – The Lord’s Supper Luke 22:14-20
    • Option: Communion
    • Extinguish second candle
  4. Third Reading –Jesus talks about His death John 13: 21-30 and Mark 14: 27-31
    • Extinguish Third candle
  5. Fourth Reading – Jesus prays alone and is arrested Mark 14: 32-43
    • Extinguish Fourth candle
  6. Fifth Reading –Jesus before the leaders Mark 14: 44-72
    • Extinguish Fifth candle
  7. Finish quietly and keep the environment un-hyped.
  8. Bedtime.

Readings (from International Children’s Bible )

Parents, this is for the benefit of your children. If you are losing their attention in the long readings, feel free to summarise the points. Your goal is to engage with them and get them expectant for the crucifixion of Jesus for our sins.

READING 1: John 13:1-20 Jesus Washes His Followers’ Feet

13 It was almost time for the Jewish Passover Feast. Jesus knew that it was time for him to leave this world and go back to the Father. He had always loved those who were his own in the world, and he loved them all the way to the end.Jesus and his followers were at the evening meal. The devil had already persuaded Judas Iscariot to turn against Jesus. (Judas was the son of Simon.) Jesus knew that the Father had given him power over everything. He also knew that he had come from God and was going back to God. So during the meal Jesus stood up and took off his outer clothing. Taking a towel, he wrapped it around his waist. Then he poured water into a bowl and began to wash the followers’ feet. He dried them with the towel that was wrapped around him.Jesus came to Simon Peter. But Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”Jesus answered, “You don’t understand what I am doing now. But you will understand later.”Peter said, “No! You will never wash my feet.”Jesus answered, “If I don’t wash your feet, then you are not one of my people.”Simon Peter answered, “Lord, after you wash my feet, wash my hands and my head, too!”10 Jesus said, “After a person has had a bath, his whole body is clean. He needs only to wash his feet. And you men are clean, but not all of you.” 11 Jesus knew who would turn against him. That is why Jesus said, “Not all of you are clean.”12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and sat down again. Jesus asked, “Do you understand what I have just done for you? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ And this is right, because that is what I am. 14 I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. So you also should wash each other’s feet. 15 I did this as an example for you. So you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth. A servant is not greater than his master. A messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you will be happy if you do them.18 “I am not talking about all of you. I know those I have chosen. But what the Scripture said must happen: ‘The man who ate at my table has now turned against me.’[a] 19 I am telling you this now before it happens. Then when it happens you will believe that I am he. 20 I tell you the truth. Whoever accepts anyone I send also accepts me. And whoever accepts me also accepts the One who sent me.”

Extinguish First candle 

READING 2: Luke 22:14-20 The Lord’s Supper

14 When the time came, Jesus and the apostles were sitting at the table. 15 He said to them, “I wanted very much to eat this Passover meal with you before I die. 16 I will never eat another Passover meal until it is given its true meaning in the kingdom of God.”17 Then Jesus took a cup. He gave thanks to God for it and said, “Take this cup and give it to everyone here. 18 I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine[a] until God’s kingdom comes.”19 Then Jesus took some bread. He thanked God for it, broke it, and gave it to the apostles. Then Jesus said, “This bread is my body[b] that I am giving for you. Do this to remember me.” 20 In the same way, after supper, Jesus took the cup and said, “This cup shows the new agreement that God makes with his people. This new agreement begins with my blood which is poured out for you.”

Extinguish Second candle

READING 3: John 13:21-30 Jesus Talks About His Death

21 After Jesus said this, he was very troubled. He said openly, “I tell you the truth. One of you will turn against me.”22 The followers all looked at each other. They did not know whom Jesus was talking about. 23 One of the followers was sitting[a] next to Jesus. This was the follower Jesus loved. 24 Simon Peter made signs to him to ask Jesus who it was that he was talking about.25 That follower leaned closer to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it that will turn against you?”26 Jesus answered, “I will dip this bread into the dish. The man I give it to is the man who will turn against me.” So Jesus took a piece of bread. He dipped it and gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered him. Jesus said to Judas, “The thing that you will do—do it quickly!” 28 None of the men at the table understood why Jesus said this to Judas. 29 He was the one who kept the money box. So some of the followers thought that Jesus was telling Judas to buy what was needed for the feast. Or they thought that Jesus wanted Judas to give something to the poor.30 Judas accepted the bread Jesus gave him and immediately went out. It was night.

Mark 14:27-31 Jesus’ Followers Will All Leave Him

27 Then Jesus told the followers, “You will all lose your faith in me. It is written in the Scriptures:

‘I will kill the shepherd,
and the sheep will scatter.’ Zechariah 13:7

28 But after I rise from death, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”29 Peter said, “All the other followers may lose their faith. But I will not.”30 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth. Tonight you will say you don’t know me. You will say this three times before the rooster crows twice.”31 But Peter answered strongly, “I will never say that I don’t know you! I will even die with you!” And all the other followers said the same thing.

Extinguish Third candle

Reader 4: Mark 14:32-43 Jesus Prays Alone

32 Jesus and his followers went to a place called Gethsemane. He said to his followers, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 Jesus told Peter, James, and John to come with him. Then Jesus began to be very sad and troubled. 34 He said to them, “I am full of sorrow. My heart is breaking with sadness. Stay here and watch.”35 Jesus walked a little farther away from them. Then he fell on the ground and prayed. He prayed that, if possible, he would not have this time of suffering. 36 He prayed, “Abba,[a] Father! You can do all things. Let me not have this cup[b] of suffering. But do what you want, not what I want.”37 Then Jesus went back to his followers. He found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, why are you sleeping? You could not stay awake with me for one hour? 38 Stay awake and pray that you will not be tempted. Your spirit wants to do what is right, but your body is weak.”39 Again Jesus went away and prayed the same thing. 40 Then he went back to the followers. Again he found them asleep because their eyes were very heavy. And they did not know what to say to Jesus.

41 After Jesus prayed a third time, he went back to his followers. He said to them, “You are still sleeping and resting? That’s enough! The time has come for the Son of Man to be given to sinful people. 42 Get up! We must go. Here comes the man who has turned against me.”

Jesus Is Arrested

43 While Jesus was still speaking, Judas came up. Judas was 1 of the 12 followers. He had many people with him. They were sent from the leading priests, the teachers of the law, and the Jewish elders. Those with Judas had swords and clubs.

Extinguish Fourth candle

Reader 5: Mark 14:44-72

44 Judas had planned a signal for them. He had said, “The man I kiss is Jesus. Arrest him and guard him while you lead him away.” 45 So Judas went to Jesus and said, “Teacher!” and kissed him. 46 Then the men grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 47 One of the followers standing near drew his sword. He struck the servant of the high priest with the sword and cut off his ear.48 Then Jesus said, “You came to get me with swords and clubs as if I were a criminal. 49 Every day I was with you teaching in the Temple. You did not arrest me there. But all these things have happened to make the Scriptures come true.” 50 Then all of Jesus’ followers left him and ran away.51 A young man, wearing only a linen cloth, was following Jesus. The people also grabbed him. 52 But the cloth he was wearing came off, and he ran away naked.

Jesus Before the Leaders

53 The people who arrested Jesus led him to the house of the high priest. All the leading priests, the Jewish elders, and the teachers of the law were gathered there. 54 Peter followed far behind and entered the courtyard of the high priest’s house. There he sat with the guards, warming himself by the fire.55 The leading priests and all the Jewish council tried to find something that Jesus had done wrong so they could kill him. But the council could find no proof against him. 56 Many people came and told false things about him. But all said different things—none of them agreed.57 Then some men stood up and lied about Jesus. They said, 58 “We heard this man say, ‘I will destroy this Temple that men made. And three days later, I will build another Temple—a Temple not made by men.’” 59 But even the things these men said did not agree.60 Then the high priest stood before them and said to Jesus, “Aren’t you going to answer the charges these men bring against you?” 61 But Jesus said nothing. He did not answer.The high priest asked Jesus another question: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the blessed God?”62 Jesus answered, “I am. And in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right side of the Powerful One. And you will see the Son of Man coming on clouds in the sky.”63 When the high priest heard this, he was very angry. He tore his clothes and said, “We don’t need any more witnesses! 64 You all heard him say these things against God. What do you think?”They all said that Jesus was guilty and should be killed. 65 Some of the people there spit at Jesus. They covered his eyes and hit him with their fists. They said, “Prove that you are a prophet!” Then the guards led Jesus away and beat him.

Peter Says He Doesn’t Know Jesus

66 Peter was still in the courtyard when a servant girl of the high priest came there. 67 She saw Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked closely at him.Then the girl said, “You were with Jesus, that man from Nazareth.”68 But Peter said that he was never with Jesus. He said, “I don’t know or understand what you are talking about.” Then Peter left and went toward the entrance of the courtyard.[a]69 The servant girl saw Peter there. Again she said to the people who were standing there, “This man is one of those who followed Jesus.” 70 Again Peter said that it was not true.A short time later, some people were standing near Peter. They said, “We know you are one of those who followed Jesus. You are from Galilee, too.”71 Then Peter began to curse. He said, “I swear that I don’t know this man you’re talking about!”72 As soon as Peter said this, the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had told him: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will say three times that you don’t know me.” Then Peter was very sad and began to cry.

Extinguish Fifth candle

 

The Evening before Good Friday

On Thursday evening, before bedtimespend time with the family to read these 5 scriptures, remembering the moments that led up to the crucifixion of our Saviour.

For a template that suits families with younger children, click here

Form of Service

There are 5 readings. 5 candles can be lit, and after each reading, one candle is extinguished. This helps convey the approaching darkness of the crucifixion.

If you wish to also hold Communion together, request the instructions from Malcolm (071 702 1331, or malcolm@knysnabaptist.org.za). Or see here – Communion Notice.

Preparation

  1. A Lamp / or enough light to read by – Decide who will read which scriptures
  2. Bibles or printed scriptures below
  3. Five lit candles
  4. Optional: Communion laid out with glasses and unbroken bread
    • If you wish to hold communion, please request the template from Malcolm ASAP. The elders have developed an important document for this. Or click here
  5. You might also want to play some quietly appropriate music beforehand to prepare the mood.

Order

  1. Optional Music / Song 
  2. First Reading – “Jesus teaches true leadership” John 13:1-20
    • Extinguish first candle
  3. Second Reading – Jesus institutes the New Covenant: Luke 22:14-20
    • Option: Communion
    • Extinguish second candle
  4. Third Reading –“Jesus announces his betrayal” John 13: 21-30 and Mark 14: 27-31
    • Extinguish Third candle
  5. Fourth Reading – “Jesus in Gethsemane” Mark 14: 31-43
    • Extinguish Fourth candle
  6. Fifth Reading –“Jesus is arrested” Mark 14: 44-72
    • Extinguish Fifth candle
  7. Finish quietly and keep the environment un-hyped.
  8. Bedtime.

Readings (from ESV)

READER 1: JESUS TEACHES TRUE LEADERSHIP: Reader 1 John 13: 1-20

13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”

8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[c] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Extinguish first candle

READER 2: JESUS INSTITUTES THE NEW COVENANT–: LUKE 22:14-20

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

option: Communion – consume together.

  • Extinguish second candle

READER 3 – “JESUS ANNOUNCES HIS BETRAYAL: John 13: 21-30 and Mark 14: 27-31”

13:21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

Mark 14:27 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 26 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”

29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

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READER 4 –“JESUS PRAYS IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE:Mark 14:31-43

32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.

36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 41 And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”43 And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.

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READER 5: “JESUS IS ARRESTED – Mark 14: 44-72”

44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” 45 And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 46 And they laid hands on him and seized him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 And they all left him and fled.

51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

53 And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. 54 And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. 56 For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. 57 And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. 60 And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 61 But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

63 And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. 65 And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.

66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed.

69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

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Communion at Home. A resource from the elders

Knysna Baptist Church – 2 April 2020

Communion at Home?

This week the elders of Knysna Baptist discussed whether Communion can be celebrated Virtually via the Internet, in an ‘online’ fashion.

We have concluded, “No!”. Communion is intrinsically about being together physically and so it is impossible to do “Communion” virtually or online. Therefore we will not be hosting online Communion services.

A very good article “Does Corona mean Communion on your Owna” by Andrew Wilson shows why, and you can read it here: https://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/does_corona_mean_communion_on_your_owna

But the second question we asked was, “Can communion be celebrated in a home, even between only two believers, for example a husband and wife?” and the answer is, “Yes!”. We are providing this document as a simple guide for those who ever wish to do so, in their own time together.

“Communion is
both
a somber reflection
and
beautiful celebration
of Christ’s sacrifice
for all who put their faith in him.”

As Christians, we are disciples of Christ. In the Gospels, Jesus told his disciples to take Communion in remembrance of him. Therefore, we receive Communion because Jesus told us to. In the early church, Christians practiced Communion regularly in their homes meeting together to break bread and drink wine in remembrance of their Savior.

While Communion is a holy practice that should be practiced in churches, it does not have to happen only within the walls of a church or given by a church leader. Like those in the early church, we can gather together and break bread in remembrance of Him anytime.

Matthew 18:20 tells us, “For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.”

 

However, let us first stress some Critical points

If you wish to celebrate Communion at home, you must first agree with these points otherwise you may be partaking in it in an unworthy manner before the Lord. Please take this seriously, because the Body of Christ is serious to Him.

  • Communion is intended by Jesus for the entire church body together.

While it is absolutely fine to share communion in the home, it must never replace Communion with the whole church body. It is wrong to cut off your brothers and sisters from Communion with you. Therefore, missing Communion in the church gathering at this time is exceptional. Missing communion in the church should only happen when there is no other option, such as physical illness, a serious life threatening situation, a national crisis or some other situation that justifies staying home. In fact, when we celebrate Communion on the first Sunday of the month, you should make especial effort to not miss that service!

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42  (NASB)

  • Communion is only for Born-again Believers.

Communion is not a tradition for a biological family, but a blessing for a spiritual family. There are some homes where spouses or children do not confess absolute faith in Jesus Christ. It would be wrong in that home for those unbelievers to join in Communion. Regarding children and ages, there is no verse that restricts young children from participating. Therefore the parents are accountable before the Lord to decide whether their children show signs of genuine faith, and so either include them or let them be somewhere else (or watch) during the communion celebration.

  • It is called “Communion” because it overcomes conflict.

Communion represents “the kind of ‘community’ that cannot be dissolved by petty conflict or disagreement. As we eat together around the table of Christ, we’re called to a recognition that we are at the table of a kingdom. And we are called there to recognize the presence of the King — not so much in the elements themselves or in our individual spiritual reflection but in the body he has called together, a body of sinners like us. Only then will we really get what the Scriptures mean when they call us to ‘fellowship.’ “. So let the power and grace of Christ draw you into forgiveness and harmony before you celebrate it.

And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. 1 John 4:21 (NASB)

 

A typical means of celebrating Communion

1. Prepare the bread and drink

  • Have the Communion symbols ready (bread for Christ’s body and wine/juice for Christ’s blood)
  • Have a Bible ready. The main reading below are from Matthew 26

2. Prepare yourselves

Encourage everyone to take a few minutes before coming to the Communion to prepare themselves. God warns us in 1 Corinthians 11:27 to not take of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner.

  • Search your heart for unconfessed sin (1 Corinthians 11:23-30).
  • Confess your sin to God (1 John 1:9).
  • If there is unresolved conflict in your life, seek reconciliation (Matthew 5:23).

3. Remember Jesus together through the Communion meal

  1. You could have a time of worship, praise and glorifying God. You could start with prayer, read Scripture and sing one or more hymns or worship songs before taking communion.

A good scripture to include:

Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. 1 Corinthians 10:16–17

  1. Distribute pieces of bread to the believers. (Tearing apart a common loaf of bread and drinking from a common cup, were practices that were common in New Testament communities.)
  2. Read Matthew 26:26.
  3. Pray over the bread and eat it together. The prayer should be one that at least thanks Christ that His body suffered so that ours can be saved. His death brought us forgiveness.
  4. Distribute the filled cup(s) to the believers.
  5. Read Matthew 26:27-29.
  6. Pray over the drink and drink it together. The prayer could be one of thanking God for both the security we have in Jesus’ shed blood. Thank the Father for saving believers and that one day you and any believers with you will see Him face-to-face
  7. Continue in prayer as the Holy Spirit leads in thanks, and also on behalf of the whole body of believers.

 

Sources

  • https://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/does_corona_mean_communion_on_your_owna
  • https://www.southbaychurchli.org/life-purpose-hope-blog/why-and-how-to-practice-communion-outside-of-the-sanctuary
  • https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/family-supper-reclaiming-community-through-communion
  • https://www.neverthirsty.org/bible-qa/qa-archives/question/can-i-worship-and-have-communion-at-home-by-myself-3/

Love to the Uttermost – Wednesday

Why Jesus Is All-Trustworthy

“I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.” (John 13:19)

Jesus himself taught that all the prophecies about him would be fulfilled. In other words, we have a testimony, not only that the writers themselves saw Jesus’s life as fulfillment of prophecy, but that Jesus did, too.

For example, in Luke 22:37, Jesus says, “I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment” (see Isaiah 53:12). Jesus saw that the predictions of the Messiah and his sufferings would be fulfilled in himself.

Jesus took up the principle of John 13:19 and foretold numerous details of what was going to happen to him so that we might believe when they happened. “He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31).

Jesus saw the predictions of the Messiah and his sufferings being fulfilled in himself.

  • He foresaw that his death would be by crucifixion (John 3:14, 12:32).
  • He predicted that the disciples would find an unridden colt when they entered the town (Luke 19:30).
  • When the disciples entered Jerusalem that last Thursday, he predicted they would meet a man with the water pitcher who would have a room for them to meet in (Luke 22:10).
  • After three years of waiting, he knew the exact hour of his departure out of the world (John 13:1).
  • Jesus knew that he would be betrayed, and who would betray him, and when it would happen (John 6:64, 13:1; Matthew 26:2, 21).
  • He knew and predicted the fact and the time of Peter’s three denials (Matthew 26:34).
  • Jesus predicted that the disciples would all fall away and be scattered (Matthew 26:31; John 16:32; Zechariah 13:7).
  • Jesus prophesied that he would be “lifted up from the earth” (John 12:32). That is, he would not be stonedbut crucified—not by Jews but by Romans. So the decisions of Pilate and the Jews of how to dispose of him were a fulfillment of his prediction.

He makes all these predictions, according to John 13:19, so that we would believe he is God, that what he says about himself is true.

In other words, Jesus is saying, “If you are struggling to believe that I am the promised Messiah, that I am the one who was in the beginning with God and was God (John 1:1), that I am the divine Son of God, who can forgive all your sins and give you eternal life and guide you on the path to heaven, then I want to help you believe. And one of the ways I am going to help you have wellgrounded faith is by telling you what is going to happen to me before it happens, so that when it happens, you will have good reason to believe in me.”

These readings are produced from DesiringGod and freely available for distribution here: https://www.desiringgod.org/books/love-to-the-uttermost