Summary: Communion looks to the past present and future.
It is probably one of the most memorable scenes from the New Testament. For three years they had travelled the width and breadth of Palestine, listening to him teach, watching him heal, marvelling at the miracles that he performed. Sometimes they found what they were looking for and sometimes it came together in a beautiful serendipitous moment, y’all know what serendipitous means? It means an unexpected discovery. When you are looking for your car keys in behind the sofa cushions and you find a twenty-dollar bill, that’s serendipitous, and no it’s never happened to me either.
They had started as followers and then became disciples and then became friends, and now after three years they had gathered for the Passover feast in Jerusalem, something that Jews all over the world long to do, even today. And in the midst of all the laughter and all the festivities Jesus drops a bombshell. He’s been telling them for months now that the time is near, now he tells them the time is here. How would you feel? Passover was the most festive of all the Jewish celebrations, it would have been the same as being at a private Christmas party and right in the middle of all the festivities you best friend looks at you and says “Oh, by the way I’m going to die tomorrow.” How would you react? That was the setting behind the scripture that Sylvia read this morning. And two thousand years later Christians all over the world still celebrate communion, in one form or another. Why?
Luke 22:19 He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.”
The First Place That Communion Takes Us Is Into The Past. This is probably the most vitally important component of the communion service, which is the link it gives us with the past.
The main reason that Jesus gave us the communion service and the reason he insisted that we observe it was because he knew how fragile the human memory is. That’s the very same reason that God instituted the sacrament of the Passover for the Jews thousands of years before so that the children of Israel would always remember how He, God had delivered them from the Slavery of Egypt.
It’s when we are called upon to look back that we remember. And as we participate in the communion service, as we eat the bread and drink that juice our minds travel back in time 2000 years to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice that God made for us. You do realize that the sacrifice was made for you, not for someone else, but for you personally.
John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
But you know that really doesn’t say it all, does it? The phrase, “He gave his only Son” That doesn’t mean that God said, “here’s my son, you can have him” Jesus came to this earth in the womb of a virgin; he was born in a manger and raised in a carpenter shop. For thirty years the creator of the universe lived as one of his created ones. For thirty years God lived as a mortal in an imperfect world. And in order that he could truly be the ultimate sacrifice for mankind he had to live as we live. I’m sure that there were days that his nose was stuffed up, and days that he felt rotten, and days he didn’t want to get out of bed. But he needed to experience the full realm of the human spectrum, from birth to death if his sacrifice was to be effective.
The gift of Christ however wasn’t enough to assure our salvation. In the Old Testament God had laid down the law and there he outlined the sacrifices that needed to be made when the law was broken. And the penalty for continually breaking God’s law was eternal separation from God. A just God could not go back and change the rules; he couldn’t change the laws and the penalties for breaking the law. But he could pay the price for us, and that’s what he did when he came to this earth. He came to pay the price for each one of us. He died so that we wouldn’t have to.
And it’s when we come to the communion table that we remember that he died for us.
Each year at Christmas it is so easy as believers to get caught up in the birth of Christ and to forget that the birth of Christ was a meaningless event without the death of Christ. The nativity scene is never complete without the shadow of the cross.