The Sacrifice and the Gift
Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord’s Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me. After supper, he did the same thing with the cup: This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink this cup, remember me. What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt. Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.
For whom would you die?
For whom would you die?
For whom would you be willing to die?
A few of us might, might quickly answer. Some of us might hesitate for a moment then answer. Most of us have never thought about it.
For a moment, however; I want you to stop and think about it. For whom would you be willing to die?.
Your spouse, your children, your parents.
Many in past wars died for their country and those who would follow them.
If a terrorist walked in here and said to you, “I will let you, your family and one other person live - who would you choose?
Now here is a tough one. Would you die for
Hitler, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, Bashar al-Assad or Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi the ISIS leader.
A little closer to home - Would you die for - Clifford Olson, or Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka? Would you die for Elizabeth Wettlaufer?
If you had to die for someone who would you die for? Who do you think would be worthy of you giving up your life?
Did you come up with a name?
have people who came up with a name raise their hands.
I don’t want you to give me a name, but who came up with at least one name?
Of course most of us came up with a name even though we might not have raised our hands. And I am sure that as I read the names of the notorious leaders of History and serial killers of Canada you were saying to yourself, “No way, no way on God’s green earth would I die for one of them.”
Even the Bible says that the likelihood of someone being willing to die for such people is unlikely.
Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die.
But God incarnate - Jesus was willing to die for everyone.
Listen to this...
He died in our place to take away our sins, and not only our sins but the sins of all people.
The world leaders I mentioned who committed atrocities against people, and the serial killers who took the lives of innocent people; were not born to be those kind of people - it is out of their brokenness and broken relationship with our creator God that they became those people. It would not have taken too many bad circumstances in our lives for us to have walked similar paths. It is the misuse of our freedom that causes the world to be fractious and for relationships to be broken and people’s spirits to become crushed. You want to see the devastating effects of what we can do to people - watch a child when someone they love yells and screams at them and tells them they are no good.
Jesus , God incarnate came and lived among us and died for us to heal our brokenness, fix our damaged souls, restore our crushed spirits and renew our love relationship with him.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
I like the way it says it in the paraphrase, The Message.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
When Jesus said, “Do this in Remembrance of me.” This was one of the things he wanted us to remember. No one, absolutely no one is beyond his ability to forgive and to make whole. Not the notorious national leaders, not the serial killers and not even you. This is what he wants us to remember. You were worth dying for.
Make us One
Make us One
Just as the Jews were called to remember what God had done for Israel in bringing them out of Egypt and making them into a nation that was to be a witness to the people around them about God and his desire to live in relationship with those who believed in him. We are called to remember that when the time was right God in Christ came to make it possible for all people, Jews and Gentiles, people of all nationalities and all cultures to be given a fresh start and become part of his kingdom.
But much more than this, when we gather around the communion table it is to symbolize that we are one in Christ
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
What does this mean? It means when we are in Christ there is not to be a sense of class structure, cultural separation, intellectual snobbery, or discrimination because of our sex or wealth or how we dress. God places us on a level playing field.
The problem is we forget this so easily. Someone asked me recently if we really needed to have Communion 5 times a year. I suggest this is a minimum number of times, because we need regular reminding that we are family together. We need regular reminding that we are to nurture and support each other spiritually, physically, financially. The way we treat each other as brothers and sisters, the way we talk to each other and about each other are all to be a witness to the world about the oneness into which Jesus has calls us and calls every human being.
I wonder if this is one of the reasons people no longer look to the local church for support and care - they simply don’t see it happening.
And so every time we gather the words of Jesus are to ring in our ears, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Remember why I came and to whom you belong and the way you are to live with each other.
Call us to obedience
Call us to obedience
This leads us to our final point today - as we gather around the table of the Lord and we take his words seriously - Do this in remembrance of me - we remember not only that he loves us and has died to bring us back into a love relationship with God and that he has made it possible for us to live in a community of love such as ours, he also tells us how we can show our love for him.
You are My friends if you do what I command you.
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
We are sure that we know Christ if we obey his commandments. The person who says, “I know him,” but doesn’t obey his commandments is a liar. The truth isn’t in that person. But whoever obeys what Christ says is the kind of person in whom God’s love is perfected. That’s how we know we are in Christ.
This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.
The Old Testament is full of such statements - obey my commands, obey my statutes and my ordinances. Over and over Scripture tell us to do what he says. Why
because he is a cosmic kill joy ?
because he doesn’t want us to have any fun?
because he wants to keep us under his control?
because he doesn’t understand us
because he doesn’t want us to make our own choices?
No, no, no, no!
God is the greatest example of a loving parent. As a matter of fact if we parents were to search the Scriptures and mark all the ways that God demonstrates his love for his children and then use them in our parenting we would be the kind of parents God want us to be.
God does not want to limit us, he wants to free us to live life creatively.
Here’s how it works. It’s like when someone learns to play the piano. They start with the fundamentals.
ask congregation for some of the fundamentals in playing the piano
now ask pianist
Once you have learned the fundamentals then you can begin to learn how to play pieces of music
And once you get the idea of how it all fits together, you can begin to be creative.
By learning the fundamentals you can become a great piano player.
So it is with obeying God. He created you and me and created how life is to work in beautiful harmony.
He knows that there are fundamentals we have to learn in order to live in harmony with him, others and the world.
Here is the beauty of it. He doesn’t keep us guessing. He doesn’t say, “Good luck, hope you make it!”
You might say he gives us the book of fundamentals, just like the music book for beginners, we call it the Bible. And not only does he give us the book of fundamentals - the Bible, he gives us a guide - the Holy Spirit And when we learn the fundamentals which we need to come back to time and time again, and learn to pay attention to the guide, God says, “Go for it!”
He says - now listen to this carefully, because it is the most beautiful part of being in love with God and obeying his commands - hold firm to the fundamentals, keep a firm hand on my guide - here it is - wait for it - Now I set you free to be as creative as you want.
Jesus, God incarnate says to us,
“Remember I love you!
Remember you are part of my eternal family!
Remember to show your love for me by living the fundamentals of life and listening to my Holy Spirit!”
He says, “Do this in Remembrance of me!”