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Feb 3 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

February 2, 2014 – Luke 22:14-20

When the Hour Comes

When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” And when He had taken some bread and 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.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”  Luke 22:14-20

Intro: We set aside our ongoing study when we observe Communion

We do not have to learn something every Sunday
– we do not have to be inspired or motivated fixed or straightened out every time we meet
– some of these times we need nothing other than to be with God
• we need these opportunities to renew our decision, our  faith, and our connection with God
○ what comes to mind is Psalm 51:10

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

We need an experience of God rather than another lesson about God

“When the hour had come . . .”

Every hour may consist of sixty minutes, but some hours are longer than others
– if you’ve ever sat in the waiting room of a hospital, you know those can be long hours

The quality of one hour can be radically different from another hour
– there are some moments we would live over and over if possible
– others we wish would could wipe from our memory–and also from history

Luke is simply telling us that the time had come to eat the Passover meal
– but this particular hour was bigger than that
• twice Jesus says, in effect, “This will never happen again”
– something from beyond time had entered this hour and it stretches the hour extending into the future
• so Jesus can talk about a “remembrance” of this event

Theologians tell us that this remembering is not merely a cerebral function
– we are not just recalling a person, an event, and details
• nor is it placing ourselves there in the upper room that night with our imagination
• something happened in that hour and it is still happening
○ the story lets us know that a gift was given
○ and is still being given, so that we can receive and experience it ourselves

Our most important hours may be hours of decision

Barb and I were watching “Cops” the other night
– a typical scene: a driver is pulled over, interviewed, searched, and then arrested on the spot
• handcuffed and loaded into the backseat of a patrol car, they see their future
• some of them cry, others try to bargain with the arresting officer–neither works
– I can’t help but wonder, as they’re hauled away do they start thinking about the decision they made earlier that evening?
• the decision to drink or have drugs in their possession and then get in their car and drive
• because that was an hour of decision and they will regret the decision they made for a long time

We’ve made decisions that have changed our lives
– we are not usually aware that we have come to an hour of decision
• we didn’t make an appointment, it’s not on our calendar, and we haven’t knowingly prepared ourselves for it
– the hour of decision frequently comes unannounced

We are not always in our healthiest spiritual state for making right decisions
– we have hours of exhaustion or illness
• hours of mental dullness or flat emotions
• hours when our usual sources of inspiration seem irrelevant, powerless, unreal
– instead of feeling we’re dead to world and alive to Christ, we feel just the opposite
• in those hours, our future can turn on a decision

Martin Buber, “According to the biblical insight, historic destiny is the secret correlation inhering in the current moment. When we are aware of origin and goal, there is no meaningless drift; we are carried along by a meaning we could never think up for ourselves, a meaning we are to live–not to formulate. And that living takes place in the awful and splendid moment of decision–your moment and mine . . .”

Various “religious” decisions produce different effects

Some decisions reinforce and perpetuate earlier decisions
– we intensify and strengthen a previous commitment
• this is how traditions become ingrained
• the downside of these types of decision is they have the potential of:
○ becoming dogmatic and closed off to new insight
○ making us overly familiar with our staid beliefs, traditions, and rituals  – we develop religious habits that make us less sensitive alert to the sacredness of our moments with God
○ losing our flexibility or willingness to learn
– these decisions are not life-changing, they are life-maintaining

Other types of decisions bring with them a fresh wave of joy
– a new energy that wasn’t ours before
• a new vision of our lives
• a new closeness with God
– in a word: renewal

Those decisions lift us out of the boredom of our daily routine
– we aren’t taken out of our circumstances, we wake up within them
• we see colors again, hear music again, feel meaning again
• everything around us may be same as before
○ but we are not the same
–  which, of course, is not to say we’re perfect
• or that life is perfect
• but it is different
○ the weary monotony is taken out of i
t○ we remember who we are and why we’re here

Conc: When we come to our hour of decision

Jesus is always there – offering himself to us
– he could not give himself to us more completely than in the bread and the cup
– but his words are only an invitation
• he leaves the decision in our hands

Like the disciples that night
– the hour comes to us, ready or not
– we may feel too weak to take the next step with Jesus
• too apathetic, too distracted, too doubtful
• we may feel trapped in our bad mood (or deeds)
○ but there is one thing we can do – we must do
○ we can make a decision

We can decide to accept the bread and the cup from his hands

Who knows?
Maybe this will be the most important decision of all

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