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Communion Meditations (2019)

 

Sacrifice

Originally scheduled for September 22

It is a truism that communion is a memorial to Christ. For the most part we prefer to remember the resurrection of Christ above all else. This, of course, cannot be brought out without mentioning the fact that Christ died for us. But it is a fairly uncommon thing in communion meditations to recall that Christ suffered for us — greatly.

We acknowledge that the death of Christ performed the atonement which washes away our sin. If you look into it a little further, you will see that this atonement is in accordance with the Old Testament law, which dealt with animal sacrifices. Interestingly, the animal sacrifices involved very little suffering on the part of the animal. Indeed, cruelty to animals was something specifically condemned in the Old Testament law. So why then were things arranged so that Christ would suffer so much on the cross before his death and resurrection?

·         The simplest explanation is that this was Christ’s obedience to God the Father. On more than one occasion he stated that he had come to do his Father’s will, and this was the will of the Father.

·         We must also consider the vicarious nature of the atonement. He suffered for us as we should suffer. Think about it: we shoot horses, but we imprison people. Those of us who’ve done prison ministry no that being imprisoned is a form of suffering and can be quite cruel.

·         There is also an element of humility in this. This was not a death with dignity; it was more like a legal lynch mob. It shows us that in the manner of his death there is nothing beneath Christ’s dignity.

But perhaps the greatest reason for this is that Christ is our intercessor. To be an intercessor requires that you know what the other person is going through. Here’s how I put it in one devotional, many years ago:

Have you ever been down to the point where the government had to get someone else to carry your load?  A welfare case?  Simon of Cyrene carried the cross for Him.  He knows how you feel.

Have you ever been down to the point where those around you can think of nothing more to say than, “Buddy, I’ll buy you a drink?”  They offered Jesus drugged wine.  He knows how you feel.

Have you ever been to the point where the world takes away even your clothes?  Have you had to watch total strangers pick through what used to be your clothes?  Bankruptcy and the last garage sale, perhaps?  They gambled for His clothes.  He knows how you feel.

Have you ever been in trouble with the law?  To the point where the criminals around you gave you a hard time about it?  They crucified him between two thieves, and even they insulted Him.  He knows how you feel.

Have you ever been the victim of the insults of the mob?  Just those looking on, laughing at you and calling you names?  “Come down from the cross,” they called to Him.  He knows how you feel.

Have you ever had the “righteous” people insult you, calling you names and letting the world know just how rotten they think you are?  Even the religious leaders insulted Him on the cross.  He knows how you feel.

 

He knows how you feel, for it all happened to Him.  Even though He had lived the sinless life, deserving none of this, that’s how they treated Him.  So when you feel the world coming down on top of you, whether you deserve it or not, remember:  He knows how you feel.

Take your troubles to Him.  Go to Him in prayer and tell Him how it is within the depths of your soul.  There is nothing you can say that He does not understand, for He is human just like us.  There is nothing He cannot comprehend, for He is God.  There is nothing He cannot forgive, for He went to the cross for you, that you might be forgiven.  There is no hurt too deep for the Christ, by whose wounds you are healed.  Love, in its purest form, awaits you.  He knows how you feel.

 

So it is. Christ did not die a swift, painless death but a long, tortured one. He did this out of his great love for us. He is now our perfect intercessor — He knows how you feel.

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