Communion Message - Part 3
July 5, 2009
The Trail of Blood – The Sin Offering
This is the third message which follows the crimson trail through the Old Testament. These messages are taken from a devotional guide by Selwyn Hughes called, “Every Day with Jesus”.
This is the part of our service where we turn to face the cross. It is at the cross where we focus on Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. His death, His shedding of blood is called the greatest act of love. It is the culmination of the sacrificial system instituted by God in the Garden of Eden where blood was first shed to cover Adam’s sin. It is said, wherever you cut Scripture, it bleeds.
Throughout Scripture God shows us the shocking consequences of sin. And “all have sinned and fall short of the glorious standard of our God”. (Rom.3:23) and the ”wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life” (Rom.6:23) Sin is an insult to our Maker because it is so costly. All sin – from the little white lie to murder. It cost Jesus His life.
So let’s pick up the trail of blood this morning at the altar of the Jewish Temple of old. When Jews approached the sacrificial altar in the outer court of the temple, they did so in a genuine spirit of repentance. Genuine repentance was preceded by genuine sorrow over sin. 2 Cor. 7:10 says, “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation….”
So Jews came in sorrow for sin to make one of three different types of sacrifices: the sin offering, the burnt offering, or the peace offering. The sin offering was the most basic offering for sins. When they approached the altar they repeated a prayer which goes like this, “O God, I have sinned. I have committed (then they would name the specific sin), but I return in repentance and let this sacrifice be for my atonement.” Then an animal was killed and its blood applied to the brazen altar and the fat burned on the altar signifying the putting away of sin.
In order for the sacrifice to be acceptable to God, there were criteria – first, the animal had to be the property of the person offering the sacrifice, either brought or bought for this specific purpose. Second, the animal being offered had to be “spotless” – free of all defects. And third the person offering the sacrifice for their personal sin had to come themselves to the altar. Only then was the sin expunged. But only sins of ignorance or human weakness could be atoned for by these sin offerings. The deepest sins of the heart – lust, envy, and pride – could not be dealt with in this way. Not until Christ died on Calvary was a full sin offering provided. His blood covers the deepest sins of man – the sins against Father God. All sin is abhorrent to God. All sin still needs to be repented of, but the atoning – paying for sin – is done. It was done at the cross.
Now let’s compare the Jewish sacrificial system of yesteryear to today. Like then, today we must come ourselves with our burden of sin - the sins of ignorance or weakness – and lay them at the feet of Jesus. Like the Old Testament Jew, our hearts must be heavy – we must genuinely feel how offensive our sin is to God. Like the Jew, we must “own up” to our sin. But, unlike the Old Testament Jew we must come knowing Jesus is the spotless lamb who died once for all our sins. We must come seeking repentance and reconciliation with God through Jesus’ body and blood. All this is part of communion. We remember who God is and who we are! We remember what God has done for us.
If you come with a repentant heart, this morning, you are welcome to come to the table. But if you are not repentant, or if you won’t own up to your sin, or if you do not believe that Jesus paid the ultimate price for your sin, then stay seated. This awesome privilege of remembrance is for all believers – of every theological background - those who trust in the atonement made at the cross by God Himself for us.
Father, you have blessed us with every spiritual blessing. You chose us to be holy and blameless. You predestined us to be adopted into Your family and You made us acceptable. You redeemed us with the precious blood of Your Son and gave us forgiveness for our sins. Because we heard the truth and believed and now trust in Christ’s sacrifice, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit – the guarantee of our inheritance. Therefore, LORD God, we do not cease giving thanks for our LORD Jesus Christ, and the Father of glory, who gave us the spirit of wisdom and revelation and opened the eyes of our understanding that we might be enlightened to the hope of Your calling on our lives and the exceeding greatness of Your power toward us who believe, the same power which raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at Your right hand. (Ephesians 1:3-20) Because of all You have done for us, LORD, we come humbly now before Your throne of grace to ask Your forgiveness for the sin that separates us. We own up to the following sins: [pause a minute] We ask all this in the name of Jesus, the Christ, the one and only Son of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Amen
If you are a believer, born in the Spirit, you are welcome at the LORD’s table. Come, join us in this spiritual feast. But before you do, examine your heart. Let’s remember that we are not to partake unworthily. 1 Corinthians 11:27 – 29 says, “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the LORD in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the LORD. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself…” Eating or drinking in an unworthy manner has to do with divisions in the fellowship (as mentioned in verse 18). If you harbor bitterness or envy or an unkind attitude toward others, Scripture asks that you “mend your fences” before you celebrate communion. This is a holy remembrance.
Let’s pray silently. Ask God to reveal to you if there is a need for repentance before you partake. As you come silently before our LORD and God, ask Him to also reveal to you the deep and wide trail of blood leading to the cross for our sake.
As we prepared to be served, let’s pray for the consecration of these elements: Father, we are thankful for the bread and cup. We pray that these elements will provide more than physical nourishment. Grant us the peace, unity, and spiritual nourishment this bread symbolizes. May this cup speak again of the blood Christ shed for the forgiveness of sin. Cleanse us and consecrate us again as we partake of this token meal together. We eagerly await the day we shall eat it with you in the Kingdom of Heaven. In Christ’s name, Amen.
In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, God’s Word says: For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,
and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
Starting on my left, please come forward to be served the elements, please hold on to your serving until all have been served so we may partake together.
(When all are ready to partake) “The Lord Jesus on the night He was betrayed, took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is my body which is for you; do this in remembrance of me” Let’s partake.
(When all are ready to partake of the cup) “In the same way, after supper He took the cup saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”