Summary: Communion Meditation for March 1, 2009 and the first of the Lenten Series, ‘The Body of Christ.’
We begin our Lenten Series for this year under the theme of ‘The Body of Christ.’ I picked this theme because I believe that it ties in with the two themes that we have already studied this year: being a peacemaker and a missionary. I also picked it because I believe as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:27, ‘Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.’ Therefore, we are the eyes, the ears, the hands, the feet, the mouth, and the heart of Christ.
Today, we begin, with the ‘eyes of Christ.’
(Slide 1) And the question I ask of us this morning is, ‘What does Jesus see?’
The short answer (and the correct one) is that Jesus sees everything. And this is something that we have heard and taught throughout our time in the Christian church – God sees everything. I think that there are moments in which we really hope that Jesus sees us and sees those that we care about. We need, desperately need at times, to have Jesus see us. We desire His caring and loving gaze on us.
Yet there are also times when we don’t want Jesus to see us. We wish that His gaze would turn elsewhere.
I remember a time over two decades ago, when, in a challenging time of life, a pastor sat across a lunch table and said to me, ‘Jim, I see the call of God written all over you.’ My silent response was, “That is the last thing I want to hear!”
I was done with ministry and I never wanted to go back to it. But a man of God, God’s servant, was seeing what God was seeing. So Christ sees us with His eyes all the time. Such sight we often feel in the convicting and stirring power of the Holy Spirit.
For a few moments this morning, I want us to look through Christ’s eyes from a place that we can only imaging look out from… on the cross.
Let us first go to Luke 23 and verse 34: Jesus said, “Father, forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing. And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.”
One of the sources that I have read indicated that crucifixions took place along the roads people travelled. However, we read that Jesus went to a hill called Golgotha that was located on the northwest side of Jerusalem and was near the location of several tombs. So it seems probable that given the frequent use of crucifixion by the Roman authorities and the proximity of tombs, that it was a place frequented by the family members of those being executed as well as those already executed. This leads me to wonder just how close those who mocked Him were to Jesus.
No doubt they were close enough and the Roman soldiers were there not just to be executers but also security. But in all of this Jesus ‘sees’ the injustice being done to Him and, as we read in verses 35 and following, ‘hears’ the mocking and ridicule as well. He cannot escape it. But, He sees those who have crucified Him and those who have judged Him and those who mock Him, with a different set of eyes.
But in spite of the tremendous cruelty being administered and the tremendous pain be experienced, Jesus looked around at all that was being done and said to Him and said, ‘Father forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.’
What would see? What do we see when we are despised and rejected by others? “How” do we see those who say and do to us things that are harsh and mean?
(Slide 2) With these words of forgiveness, we realize that Jesus sees them with eyes of forgiveness and not revenge. So, Jesus sees us, those we care for, and even those we have trouble liking and even getting along with, through eyes of forgiveness.
Now Jesus not only sees with eyes of forgiveness, (Slide 3) He also sees with eyes of hope and promise a man who is spending his last moments of life next to Him. In verses 39 through 43 we read, ‘One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”
But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you are dying? We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Notice that two people in the same circumstance saw Jesus differently. One echoed the mocking of the crowd and sought, as others had, for Jesus to ‘prove’ Himself the Messiah by saving not just Himself but also them. This dying criminal, I must confess, has an attitude of ‘what can you do for me Jesus?’ that I think is a very common attitude these days. Yet the other man saw Jesus for who He was and asked merely to be remembered by Him in His Kingdom.