Originally scheduled for April 19
Students of English prose recognize the opening
immediately: “Four score and seven years ago…” It is, of course, the
opening of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. If you will read
through the entire speech — it takes no more than three or four
minutes — you will discover that it is a commemoration of suffering
and sacrifice. The battle of Gettysburg itself was the turning point
in the American Civil War. “Turning point” is not the same thing as
victory. Winston Churchill remarked upon the battle of Gettysburg
was the decisive battle of the American Civil War. No one after
Gettysburg doubted which way the dread balance of war would incline,
yet far more blood was shed after the Union victory than in all the
fighting which went before.
For the Christian, the Cross is the Gettysburg
in the history of mankind’s dealing with sin. It is a point in time
in which there is great suffering and sacrifice — and it is the
point in time which marks the beginning of the end for the accuser
of mankind, Satan. The suffering of Christ on the cross guaranteed
the victory over evil.
This does not mean that the Christian will not
suffer. Suffering for the name of Christ is a part of the Christian
life. You may recall from the book of Acts that when Ananias was
sent to Paul he was told to tell Paul how much he would suffer for
the name of Christ. Ananias was given no vision of the greatness
that Paul would achieve in the church; just the suffering.
Throughout the New Testament there is the idea that those who serve
Christ will be persecuted (2 Timothy 2:12) . We are also told that
if we are suffering with him we will be glorified with him (Romans
Communion is a picture of Christ’s suffering.
As such, it reminds us that his sacrifice on the Cross was the
greatest proof of his love for mankind (John 15:13). We are reminded
every time we take Communion of his body being sacrificed for us
(the bread) and his blood being shed for us (the cup). As you
partake of Communion today, you proclaim your self willing to suffer
for the name of Christ. Therefore, as the old hymn puts it,
Take the name of Jesus
Child of sorrow and woe
It will joy and comfort give you
Take it then where’ ere you go.
The war is won. The battle rages on, and you
are part of it. Accept your suffering and sacrifice willingly; look
forward to the glory to come.