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Four Rooms

October 4, 1992 | First Presbyterian Church Orlando | I Corinthians 11:23-26

Come back with me in time, back nearly two thousand years. I want to take you on a tour of some rooms which are etched forever into the memory of Christians. They are important rooms, not because they are elaborate or beautiful, but because the Lord Jesus Christ filled them with His presence.

First, there is an Upper Room in Jerusalem.

Climb the steps. Stand beside the door. Look in. Not a very attractive place. Rather bare. There is a table in the center, some cushions for sitting. A towel, a basin and a water pitcher near the door. Apart from that, the place is without furnishings. A group of men are eating a meal quietly, almost solemnly. Much of the room is wrapped in shadows—it’s hard to make out the faces. Yet, if we look closely, we can see that it is the Man from Nazareth, Jesus, and His disciples. It is evident that they are sharing a Passover meal, the meal which celebrates the Old Testament deliverance of the Hebrew people from their slavery in Egypt. Still this is more than just one more Passover meal. Jesus does a strange thing. He takes one of the loaves of bread, gives thanks, breaks it into pieces, and passes them around the table. He says: “Take eat, this is My body broken for you.” Then he takes a cup, once again gives thanks, and gives it to them to drink. He speaks again: “This cup represents my blood shed for the forgiveness of your sins. Drink of it, all of you.” The disciples are mystified. They do not know what to think. They had never been able to understand why Jesus kept saying that He would have to suffer and die. Yet now, by giving them the bread and the cup in this way, He is making it abundantly clear that that is precisely what is going to happen to Him. He is going to die. And whenever we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we enter this same room in Jerusalem and we remember that Jesus’ blood was spilled to forgive our sins. This has an indelible effect upon our lives. For just as the presence of Jesus was able to transform a bare, ordinary, unattractive room into the holiest of places, so if in this sacrament you will give Him entrance into that very ordinary heart of yours, He will transform it, and make it holy, and touch it with the splendor of His glory.

There is a second room, located in Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.

It is Sunday, the first day of the week. Into the room comes three travelers. Two of them are followers of Jesus. The third traveler, unrecognized by the other two, is none other than the risen Christ Himself. The two followers ask the third, who had joined them in the midst of their journey, to share a meal with them in Emmaus. On the road, as they walked together the two followers had told this unknown traveler about Jesus, about how He had died, about rumors of His resurrection. Now they sit down together to share this ordinary meal. Jesus, as He had done earlier in the Upper Room, takes bread, blesses it, breaks it and gives it to them. At that moment, they realize who He really is. Then He vanishes out of their sight. Now in the first room, Jesus had spoken of His impending death. In the second room, that room at Emmaus, His followers saw Him risen and triumphant over death. So it should be for us that, as we gather for this sacramental meal at the Lord’s Table, death and resurrection defeat and triumph are so fused together that we can clearly see and hear the great message of the Gospel: “In Jesus Christ we are redeemed. We are forgiven. We are saved. We, too, shall conquer death in Him.”

Now let us return to Jerusalem to see the third room.

No one knows for sure where it was located. Some believe that it was the same Upper Room where Jesus had His last meal with His disciples. Others believe it was a different location. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that it is now the Day of Pentecost. The disciples are gathered in this room, partly in fear, partly in expectation. Then suddenly, without warning, a sound comes roaring into the room like the rush of a mighty wind. The disciples are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. The Church of Jesus Christ is born. Ordinary people are filled with extraordinary power and go out to accomplish extraordinary things in this ordinary world. These people who had been afraid to watch Jesus die and who had been trembling in fear that their fate might be the same, suddenly are given the power to march against Rome and the world—and to win! J. B. Phillips writes: “It is a matter of sober historical fact that never before or since has any small body of ordinary people so moved the world and impacted history that their enemies could say, with tears of rage in their eyes, ‘These Christians have turned the world upside down.'” As we join together in this holy meal, I hope that we can catch something of the zeal and the enthusiasm of those early Christians who were literally seized by the Holy Spirit and thrown into the service of God in the world.

We have toured three rooms—the Upper Room where Jesus prepared His disciples for His death, the Emmaus Room where Jesus revealed Himself as victor over death, and the Jerusalem room where the disciples received the power of the Holy Spirit. There is a fourth room.

It is right here. It is this room. And what happens here? The “there and then” becomes the “here and now.” Those past events which God used to bring salvation to His people—crucifixion, resurrection, Pentecost—are recalled—and not only that, but they are also re-enacted. Those three rooms of the past are set inside this one room and we receive the salvation of God in Jesus Christ. It does not matter if there are mistakes in the services. It does not matter what cares or anxieties or troubled thoughts you bring to this moment. It does not matter how few or how many are here. You see, God in Jesus Christ is here—right here, right now. And if we are open to Him, if we take Him into our hearts and into our lives, then we shall leave this room today as did those first disciples: changed women and men, charged by and with His Spirit, eager to speak His Word, thanking Him for His great mercies, committed to serve Him in our lives, certain of our eternal destiny. All of that happens right here, right now

In this very room.

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