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The Lord’s Supper leaves vivid images and lessons in all of us. A preacher had been away from home one afternoon donating his blood at the Red Cross. His son was a little concerned when Dad didn’t come home by the time he usually did, and the boy asked his mother, “Is Dad going around visiting all the sick people?” His mother replied, “No honey, he’s giving blood.” He paused in thought for a moment and then said: “But we know it’s really grape juice, don’t we Mom?” (1)
Another young boy stood in the church one day looking at the cross behind the pulpit. After a long silence he finally asked the question:
Why did Jesus have to die?
Why, indeed! The answer is contained in our text:
...and without shedding of blood is no remission.
Hebrews 9:22b (KJV)
In preparing this morning to observe the Lord’s Supper, I would like for us to examine three of the eight words in that text:
Remission has to do with clearing up a debt. In the words of the Bible we are all debtors. Our sin causes us to be at odds with God, in debt to God. This is because we were created by Him, and He demands that we live without sin. Only one Man, Jesus, ever lived-up to that standard. The rest of us blew that one, big time!
23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23 (KJV)
We have all been allowed to be part of God’s perfect creation, and we have all come up short in handling our part. Jesus told a story one time which is a wonderful example of this coming up short. It is the story of the Prodigal Son . A boy wanted to live life his own way – get out from under Dad’s thumb. He convinced the Dad to give him his inheritance, and then he hit the road for the big city and the good life! Now, the young man wasted every cent of his inheritance on partying. He never even thought of home or his father.
When it was all gone he awoke one day in the middle of the pigpen (an awful thing for any Jewish boy). The boy thought to himself something like, "Earth to prodigal – Here I sit wallowing in pig town, starving and cold. My Dad’s place – man do I miss home. I belong there. I am outa here!"
The boy went home, intending to beg to come back. Everyone listening to the story would have agreed that the father should have made the boy grovel just a little. However, Jesus surprised everyone, and finished off the story with the father’s reaction when he saw his prodigal coming on home… But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. Luke 15.20b
Jesus told that story to demonstrate how merciful and forgiving God is towards anyone who will turn towards the Father in heaven. That is the grace, or loving side of God.
However there is another side of God that is just as awesome – the justice, or righteousness side. The Bible tells us that the righteousness of God demands payment for sin:
For the wages of sin is death…Romans 6.23a
There is a cost to the kind of behavior the prodigal son exhibited. When he left home he took half his father’s estate with him; he came back broke. That, beloved, is the cost which his Father bore. The Father had to remit the son’s debt, or there could be no fellowship, no restored relationship between them. That concept leads us to the other two words in the phrase,
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