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Communion Meditations (2017)


Originally scheduled for August 6

Communion brings forth out of the human being some of the deepest emotions available. It calls up our sins to remind us; it calls up our Savior to remind us of his forgiveness. In this discussion there is a simple question: why is communion about the death of Christ, not the resurrection of Christ? The two, of course, are deeply connected. It is clear, however, that communion concerns itself with the death of Christ and has practically no impact with regard to the resurrection of Christ. Why did God arrange this that way? We might take a look at two parallels to find an answer.

·         First, look at Passover. Of all the events of the Exodus that might have caused the celebration, God picks out the one which involves the death of the firstborn and tells the Israelites to remember this. It is the tenth and last plague, but more than that is the phrase “death of the firstborn.” God holds the firstborn of every flock and family to be his. To him, the most significant event would be the death of the firstborn, those who should be dedicated to him.

·         Next, look at the American holidays of Veterans Day and Memorial Day. On Veterans Day we congratulate the veteran (even those of us who served sitting at a desk) but on Memorial Day we take a much more solemn approach. Veterans Day rates a parade; Memorial day is celebrated in a cemetery. Celebrating victory is a different thing than celebrating sacrifice.

Communion is not about the resurrection. You might ask why God didn’t involve both events. One reason is the effect of the resurrection on evangelism. In the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, Abraham tells the rich man that even if someone came back from the dead his brothers would not believe. Those to whom we speak may not believe the resurrection at first, but the crucifixion is altogether much more believable. Why? It’s because we have no experience with resurrection. We will experience it someday, those of us who love the Lord, but right now we don’t have any firsthand experience with it. Death, on the other hand, is something most of us know about personally. It touches us much more directly.

Indeed, there is a divine reason as well. Resurrection belongs to the Son of God — death to the Son of Man.

Communion is about the death of Christ because it portrays to us the price he paid for our salvation. In the pain he suffered in the death he endured he purchased our pardon.

·         Even if an inquirer could not believe in the resurrection, he could see the “no greater love” in the death of Christ. If God the Son would do that, why is it so hard to believe that God the Father would raise him from the dead?

·         It also reminds us that we will join him in death someday, unless he comes again before then. And if we join him in death, we will join him in his resurrection.

The victory party will start when he returns. In the meanwhile let us honor his sacrifice which bought our freedom from sin.

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