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Communion

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September 18, 2005

Communion Sermon

Scripture Reading: John 1:29
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! “

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Introduction: Though the Bible was written over a period of 1,500 years in 66 installments by over 40 authors in three languages, it all meshes together perfectly, every part and parcel of it revolving around one theme and one person: Jesus Christ. Even Genesis—the first book of the Bible—gives us lessons about Jesus Christ. It is there that we begin a “crimson cord” of redemption that stretches all the way to the final chapters of Scripture, telling us of the virtues of the Lamb of God, the reason for the institution by God of sacrifices – the last sacrifice being Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sin.

Communion is such a rich symbol for the Christian! It harkens back to that distant night in Egypt when the Angel of Death “passed over” the homes whose doors were marked by the blood of a lamb. It directly commemorates Jesus’ last Supper, when He established the New Covenant in His body and blood. And it is a foretaste of the heavenly feast, the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, when Jesus shall dine with His disciples again, as He promised. Our frequent observances of this ordinance should, over time, bring out its rich colors in meaning, sometimes somber and deeply reflective, and other times joyful and anticipatory. God works through this time of observance in a deeply personal way that is unique to each of our deepest needs.

So, before we celebrate God’s wonderful sacrifice for us, let’s take a closer look at the virtues of the Lamb of God.

1.     The Lamb Is Necessary—Genesis 3:21 “And the LORD God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife. “

and 4:1–4. “ Now Adam slept with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant. When the time came, she gave birth to Cain, and she said, "With the LORD's help, I have brought forth a man!" Later she gave birth to a second son and named him Abel. When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain was a farmer. At harvesttime Cain brought to the LORD a gift of his farm produce,  while Abel brought several choice lambs from the best of his flock. The LORD accepted Abel and his offering,”

When God first placed Adam and Eve in the Garden they were so innocent and pure that even clothing was unnecessary. They were naked and not ashamed. When they sinned against God, they became self-conscious. Their thoughts flew to lust, and they became aware that the children they bore through their sexual union would be infected with a sinful nature. And so they made for themselves garments of fig leaves. But by their own efforts, they could never cover up or wash away the guilt and shame that they felt. And so the Lord killed an innocent animal and made garments for them from the skin of that animal. Arthur Pink, in his book on Genesis, says that this is the first gospel sermon, preached by God, not in words but in symbol and action. From this one simple verse, we can learn four things about salvation: (1) It is of God alone. We can never cover our guilt by our own efforts; (2) it is accomplished by the death of an innocent substitute; (3) it is accomplished by the shedding of blood (Heb. 9:22); and (4) it is accomplished by the slaying of a spotless lamb. We aren’t told in Genesis 3 that the animal slain was a lamb, but the follow-up story regarding Abel’s sacrifice in chapter 4 implies it.

2.              The Lamb Is ProvidedGenesis 22:8 God will provide a lamb, my son," Abraham answered. And they both went on together.”  And in verses 13, 14. Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering on the altar in place of his son. Abraham named the place "The LORD Will Provide." This name has now become a proverb: "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."

God demanded that Abraham offer Isaac as a sacrifice on Mt. Moriah, the Mountain of the Lord. This mountain is later identified in Scripture as Mt. Zion (2 Chron. 3:1). It is possibly the very mountain on which Jesus Christ would later be crucified. There Abraham was told that God alone would provide salvation on that mountain, that He would provide the Lamb.

3. The Lamb Is Slain—Exodus 12:1–7: :”Now the LORD gave the following instructions to Moses and Aaron while they were still in the land of Egypt:  "From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you. Announce to the whole community that on the tenth day of this month each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice. If a family is too small to eat an entire lamb, let them share the lamb with another family in the neighborhood. Whether or not they share in this way depends on the size of each family and how much they can eat. This animal must be a one-year-old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no physical defects.  "Take special care of these lambs until the evening of the fourteenth day of this first month. Then each family in the community must slaughter its lamb. They are to take some of the lamb's blood and smear it on the top and sides of the doorframe of the house where the lamb will be eaten”

 

 And in verse 13: The blood you have smeared on your doorposts will serve as a sign. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.”

 The story of the Passover Lamb and the immortal words of verse 13 (“When I see the blood, I will pass over you”), is one of Scriptures most powerful “types of Christ.”

4.     The Lamb Must Be PerfectLeviticus 22:21: "If you bring a peace offering to the LORD from the herd or flock, whether to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering, you must offer an animal that has no physical defects of any kind.” The Lamb must be That is, without spot or blemish.

5.     The Lamb Is Identified as a Suffering Savior—Isaiah 53. “He was led as a lamb to the slaughter” (v. 7).

6.     The Lamb Is Jesus!— Let’s read John 1:29 again:The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

 Notice John’s dramatic way of introducing the Messiah. He doesn’t say, “Behold the King of kings and Lord of lords.” He says, “Behold The Lamb. . . .”

7.     The Lamb Is to Be Proclaimed to the Nations—Acts 8:31–35 : “The man replied, "How can I, when there is no one to instruct me?" And he begged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him. The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. He was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth." The eunuch asked Philip, "Was Isaiah talking about himself or someone else?" So Philip began with this same Scripture and then used many others to tell him the Good News about Jesus.

In one of the first missionary stories in church history, Philip used Isaiah 53 to tell the official from Ethiopia about the Lamb of God.

8.     The Lamb Is to Be Trusted for Salvation—1 Peter 1:18–21: “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him for this purpose long before the world began, but now in these final days, he was sent to the earth for all to see. And he did this for you. Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And because God raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory, your faith and hope can be placed confidently in God.”

9. The Lamb Is to Be WorshipedRevelation 5:6–10: I looked and I saw a Lamb that had been killed but was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God that are sent out into every part of the earth. He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. And as he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense—the prayers of God's people! And they sang a new song with these words: "You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were killed, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become God's Kingdom and his priests. And they will reign on the earth."

We see the biblical song of the Lamb reach a crescendo in the Book of Revelation, with the angels of God gathered around the Lamb in rapturous worship.

Conclusion: Last of all, the Bible ends with a warning about the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 21:27: “Nothing evil will be allowed to enter—no one who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.” ). The Lamb is keeping a book, and in it are the names of all those who come to God by faith in Him. There is no other way. This is the crimson thread that progressively unrolls throughout Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, pulling all the books together around one master theme: God loves us, we disobeyed Him, and He redeemed us through the blood of the Lamb.

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