Good morning. Today, the church commemorates the giving of the new commandment of love, the institution of the Lord’s Supper as a “memorial” or “remembrance” of Christ’s Passion, and the journey of Jesus into the Garden of Gethsemane where He was captured and led captive toward His death. In the ancient church, the service this day began the “Great Triduum,” the three great days of the paschal celebration. These were days of fasting and prayer, days when the final acts of Christ’s saving work were remembered by the church. This day gets its name from the Latin “mandatum novarum” (or “a new commandment” - John 13:34).
This morning, I would like for us to focus on these words from Mark 14:17-19. “When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”
So, here we are. It’s a night which should be filled with laughter and joy and celebration, and yet Jesus quickly changes the tone of the evening with a solemn pronouncement: “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” Without a doubt, those words quickly let the air out of the room. “One by one they said to him, ‘“Surely you don’t mean me?”’ Even Judas himself said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” (Matthew 26:25)
Those words asked by each of the disciples are telling. Yes, there is an element of incredulousness conveyed to be sure, and yet, there is an implied degree of uncertainty which hangs over them as well. It is though each is immediately going into self-examination mode and pondering the unspeakable, “Could it be me? Could I be someone who would turn my back on Jesus?”
When the Spirit strips away the images we project, and the Law of God holds up a mirror, we are reminded that we are exactly the same as those disciples. We too have betrayed Christ with lies and deceit and with love withheld from our neighbor. Thankfully, for us, and for our sin, Christ came to bring his forgiveness and healing. Amen.
I encourage all of you to join us tonight, at 5:00 pm via Facebook “live-streaming,” as we begin the “Great Triduum,” which culminates at the empty tomb.
Pastor Bryan E. Drebes
Pastor Drebes attended Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, beginning in 1997. He spent the summer of 1999 teaching English to Chinese middle school teachers in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. He served a four-month vicarage at St. John Lutheran Church, Plymouth, Wisconsin, followed by eight months at Bethany Lutheran Church, Overland Park, Kansas. Pastor Drebes was ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry at Zion Lutheran Church, Palmyra, Missouri on August 19, 2001, and installed as Associate Pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, Overland Park, Kansas on September 9, 2001. He served Bethany for 14 years. Pastor Drebes accepted a Divine