Photo by Melinda Gimpel on Unsplash
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Jesus said, “This cup is the New Testament in My blood, which is shed for you….and I am testamenting a Kingdom to you just like My Father testamented one to Me, so that you would eat and drink at My table in My Kingdom.
INI + AMEN.
King and kingdom. You can’t have one without the other. There’s no kingdom without a king, and no one’s a king if they don’t have a kingdom. Kings rule and reign. They wield power. Some are greater than others; some are less than others. And kingdoms are usually only as great and as powerful as their king. Bad king equals bad kingdom. Powerful king means powerful kingdom. Just read Kings and Chronicles to see that.
But kings aren’t forever. Who’s going to rule after he’s dead and gone, well, that’s a very important question. And it’s a highly prized position, too—heir to the throne. Many wars in the history of the world have been fought over dividing up a kingdom after the king dies. Surely the powerful prince should be in charge, and those who desert the king or who betray the king shouldn’t. (The disciples get that.)
Last will and testament. Everyone needs one of those, too. Very important, especially for kings. It tells you who’s in power, who gets what, who doesn’t get anything, and sometimes for kings it lays out who should get what’s coming to them. Final judgment in the kingdom. Judgment not forgotten.
King Jesus gives His last will and Testament, a final gift to His subjects. “This cup is the New Testament in My blood, which is shed for you.” He keeps talking about that in our reading today. Sadly the word “assign” from our reading today misses the mark on it. Jesus is talking again about what He’s already given. “I am leaving to you, bequeathing to you, giving by means of a will and testament, testamenting to you.” “I am testamenting a Kingdom,” he says.
Why does He keep talking about last will and testament, the Supper of His body and blood? Because his disciples don’t get it! They receive His Testament, and they think, “Ah, yes. Now we’ll find out who’s in charge. It can’t be the betrayer. He’s out.” So the argument continues with each laying claim to the throne, to greatness and glory, to power and influence. That’s what they’re arguing about in the Upper Room on Thursday of Holy Week.
We don’t get it either. Just like the apostles, we think about earthly kingdoms, too. That we need influence in culture, in business, in politics. As if putting Christian in front of those things is what Jesus is after. Or maybe we recognize that Jesus isn’t about such things. That He’s not King over that sort of Kingdom, but even if we do that, how quickly we can shove aside Jesus’ Last Will and Testament. As if that Gift, that Supper, His very own body and blood delivered for us to eat and to drink isn’t actually that important for our life or our relationship with Jesus or our relationships with everyone around us.
Jesus will have none of our ideas about His Kingdom or His being King. He won’t take the disciples ideas either. Jesus crucifies and kills all our ideas about kings and kingdoms. Jesus is not really the King of power and glory, even though He’s got eternal amounts of both. He’s crowned with thorns, enthroned on cross, forgives in the shedding of His own blood, shows His strength in dying. God’s judgment forgiven and forgotten in His Son. And His Calvary Kingdom is full of nobodies, of sinners. He’s King of the forgotten. That’s what St. Bartholomew shows us. We think the Apostles were all awesome. Big and influential and memorable like Peter or John or Paul.
Nope. We just know Bartholomew’s name, and that he was sent. Sent by Jesus to deliver Jesus’ Testament, to bring in His kingdom through that Gift, Supper, and Testament. After all, Jesus says, “I’m in your midst as the one who serves.” What does He serve? His body and blood. “Take eat; take drink.” There He bequeaths His Kingdom. His body and blood not only expand and advance His kingdom, but it also keeps, preserves, and guards the nobody, forgiven sinners in His kingdom.
The Lord Jesus didn’t forget Bartholomew. Didn’t abandon him either. How could He? He called him to be His Apostle. He won’t forget or abandon you either. You bear His name. He’s baptized you. Won’t leave you in your sins either. He forgives them. Gives you new life. Won’t leave you dead either. He’ll bring you back to life The world may forget you. But Jesus is the King of the forgotten. Your King. Your Savior. He calls you to His table, His Testament so that He’ll resurrect you to eat and drink with Him at His table forever.
King. Kingdom. Testament. Jesus is all about those things. He’s King. King of His cross that should’ve been yours—yours forever. He’s King who forgives you for wanting something else, for trying to make Him a King that fits what we want in this life. He crucifies and kill that in Himself. His Calvary Kingdom is yours. His Last Will and Testament is yours. He calls you to recline at His Table where He serves you His body to eat and His blood to drink. There He would serve you, to make you servers of others, to well up within you love for Him and love for others in the forgiveness of your sins. Only those forgiven will love.
King Jesus’ Testament is poured out for you in His blood, and that’s what His Kingdom is all about—and so eating and drinking with Him. He sits you down to eat and drink at His table in this life, to eat and drink of His body and blood, His last Will and Testament. He serves this to you now so that after you’ve gotten your own will in order, after you’re dead, buried, gone, and forgotten, He would resurrect you, just as He is risen, and seat you at His eternal table with all the other forgiven and sanctified nobody, forgotten sinners—people like St. Bartholomew—to eat and drink and party with Him forever.
INI + AMEN.