Sermon for Maundy Thursday – Year B – 2018

Sermon for Maundy Thursday
2018 YrB

1 Cor 11:23-36
John 13:21-32

‘Whatsoever does not proceed from faith is sin’
Romans 14:23

The Christian Life is the Life of Christ. St Paul tells us that we must ‘grow up into the fullness of him who fills everything in every way’ Eph 4:13, 1:23 – insofar as we might call our Christian Life a journey, it is into full Christlikeness. That is our the Work given to us – it is the meaning of Jesus’ words ‘to believe in the One [God] has sent’ Jn 6:29

Believing In Jesus is our complete identification With Jesus. And it embraces us in our totality – so much so that St Paul when he speaks of sexual immorality in the Corinthian Church says ‘Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute?’ 1Cor 6:15

Believing in Jesus is to be one with him – so Jesus tells us ‘Now this is Eternal Life – that they might know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent’ Jn 17:3 To Know Him is to be united in mind body and soul with Him

Put another way – in the fullest sense of the phrase – ‘Christ is our Life, our very being, our Existence’ and to live in that is to live by faith. Not to live in that is Sin – for Christ has taken up all that is Good and True and Beautiful into himself – He is Pure Life. Aside from him there is only Sin and Death

We need to Know this. If we do not, we cannot make any sense of Jesus and our Existence in the world – nor indeed can we understand the warning significance of Jesus’ words to Peter ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with me’. Jn 13:8 For to be washed by Jesus in Baptism – is to be sanctified, made Holy, set apart for God in our entirety – and only that which is so set apart might participate in Christ, Might Know Him.

(As a brief aside, this is the underlying meaning of ‘as I have washed your feet, so you should wash one another’s feet’ Jn 13:14- it is saying Yes to the Body of Christ in its fulness, it is saying Yes to his forgiveness – it is allowing us to forgive one another. In John’s gospel – washing and being washed stand in the place of ‘forgiving sins’ – pointing to the deep meaning of forgiveness. As St Peter calls on the crowd on the day of Pentecost – ‘Repent and be baptised  . . . for the forgiveness of your sins’ Acts 2:38

We wash one anothers’ feet to manifest our forgiveness of one another – to give it, and like Peter finally, to receive it. Saying with Peter, ‘you will never wash my feet’ Jn 13:8, is to find ourselves outside of Christ, not having a part with Him. It is to set ourselves apart from His Body, the Church. To be outside of the Church, The Ark of Salvation)

So we come to the Eucharist as we prepare ourselves for the Great Day of Salvation – Yet this day is a day of Darkness – or Night. ‘Judas immediately went out, and it was night.’ Jn13:30

‘The time that the Israelites had lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. At the end of four hundred and thirty years, on that very day, all the companies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. That was for the Lord a night of vigil, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. That same night is a vigil to be kept for the Lord by all the Israelites throughout their generations’. Ex 12:40-42

As the Passover and the Exodus prefigured the Great Salvation of God in Christ – so we eat this meal prepared to move on, into the Night of Good Friday, but in Hope – ‘for the darkness is not dark to you: and the night is as bright as the day’. Ps 139:12

And we go – having fed upon the Lamb of God – who takes away the Sin of the World – ‘Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me.’ Jn 6:56,7

And so in Lent we have followed Jesus, but not as it were from afar, observing him, as if he was doing something which we had nothing to do with – rather we follow him into what he does. ‘Where I am going you cannot now come, but you will come after’ Jn 13:36 ‘Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also’ Jn 12:26

As He has fasted and prayed, so have we – as he goes to the Cross, so will we. For ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ Jn 6:68

He is our Life – ‘Let us go with him that we may die with him’ Jn 11:16

‘Rise, let us be on our Way’ Jn 14:31

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