First Mennonite Church
July 25, 2021
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper Mark Who We Are
Texts: Matthew 3:13-17 & Luke 22:14-20
Today, with great joy we will be celebrating two fundamental practices of the Christian church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
The bedrock for these practices is Jesus’ example, as we have read in the Gospels. Jesus makes his public appearance by going to John the Baptist to be baptized in the Jordan River. Through his baptism, Jesus identifies with the repentant sinner when turning around onto God. But it is also starting point of a new journey. In the case of Jesus, he begins his ministry. In the case of the new believer, it is, as Paul says in Romans six, verse four: “to rise and walk in newness of life.” Baptism is not a box to be checked in our personal to-do list. Baptism is the response to God’s calling through the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 28, verses 18-20, Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Today, Madeleine, Jasmine, Robin, Carolina, Leanne, Mitch, and Josue have chosen to publicly declare their obedience to Jesus’ call. Through their baptism today, they want to give witness that Jesus is now Master and Savior of their lives. And as in the case of Jesus at his baptism, God also affirms them as his beloved children, in whom he is well pleased. Today, our brothers and sisters want to join this community of faith, which is also committed to walk with them, to give and to receive from them counsel, support, and care, in the name of the Lord. It is in the fellowship of brothers and sisters where they will continue to grow in the knowledge of the word of God and Jesus’ teaching. It is through their weekly gathering that they will strengthen their commitment and spiritual discernment on how to obey everything Jesus commands.
Today, we are also celebrating the Lord’s Supper. If Jesus’s baptism took place at the beginning of his ministry, the practice of the Lord’s Supper was established at the end of his ministry. There is a close relationship between Jesus’ baptism and his Last Supper. As Jesus was coming out of the baptismal waters, a voice from heaven declared, “This is my beloved Son. In him I am well pleased.” The Last Supper of Jesus was followed by a moment of absolute surrender on the part of Jesus to the Father. After Jesus and his disciple ate the Last Supper, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. There, we read: He fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
The Lord’s final supper took place on the eve of his arrest, leading to his death on the cross. And Jesus knew that his hour had come. Therefore, while he was eating with his disciples, Jesus took the bread and broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
The Lord’s Supper as a Christian practice directs our attention to the past, to the present, and to the future. Every time we partake from the Lord’s Table, we cannot help but be reminded of Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf. His body was hung on a Roman cross. His blood washed over his face, his arms, and body. He gave his life, even to his last breath for you and for me. He is the bread of life from which we participate. Thus, practicing the Lord’s Supper is a reminder that we owe our lives to the One who poured out his, so that we may have life. But, the Lord’s Supper not only calls our attention to the past, it also calls our attention to the present. Jesus’ command to do what he did in his memory, which is giving himself on behalf of others is our present call. Thus, when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we once again affirm our obedience to the Lord to follow his example of sacrificial love for others. When we celebrate Holy Communion, we reiterate to our fellow brothers and sisters our willingness to serve them and others in the name of Christ. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we declare to stand side by side with our sisters and brothers.
The Lord’s Supper also point our attention to the future, the day of the Lord’s coming. On that day, we will be guests at Jesus’ glorious feast. In Revelations, the angel says to John of Patmos, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” (Rev. 19:9).
Let us, therefore, give thanks to God for giving us Jesus to rescue us from our sins. Let us recommit ourselves as servants to one another in the name of Christ. Let us be mindful of the hope that is still to come, to sit at the table of Jesus on that final day, which in fact will be the beginning of our eternal reunion with the Lord.
Be ready to celebrate together by witnessing our brothers and sisters being baptized and by participating in the Lord’s Supper. Amen!