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Communion Meditations (2020)



Originally scheduled for May 24

It sometimes occurs to a new Christian to ask why the Cross was necessary. After all, if God just wants to forgive us, couldn’t he just send out an angel with a notice and a trumpet? The answer to this has to do with the relationship between justice, mercy and humility.

Mercy requires justice

It is in the very definition of mercy that justice is required. Mercy is the mitigation of the penalty for something that is justly deserved. Look at it this way: if you are a judge in a criminal case, is it mercy to give an innocent defendant only half the usual sentence? No, you should release the innocent defendant. It is not mercy to give him punishment for something he did not do. So if there is to be real mercy, there must first be real justice.

Sometimes justice simply isn’t done, and mercy is an excuse for our laziness. This tends to produce a change in what we think is right and wrong towards what we think is popular. Opinion polls then replace the 10 Commandments.

Even worse, sometimes mercy becomes a habitual reaction. Grace becomes cheap, and the sinner becomes a cynic about it. But grace is not cheap; grace is extremely expensive. It cost Christ his life. If there is to be mercy, there must be judgment first.

Mercy requires humility

May I first remind you of the incredible humility of Jesus Christ? It started with the Incarnation where the Son of God became a human being; a tremendous condescension. But not just any human being; the one who was to be the perfect sacrifice on the Cross. It was an incredibly merciful thing to do to secure our forgiveness and return to God’s family. In that, there is a temptation to pious pride. Pious pride sees the forgiven as so much scum; humility sees the forgiven as “one of us.”

More than that, if mercy is to be accepted it must be given with humility. If God’s mercy were always delivered with a thunderous judgmental look, how many of us would apply? By doing it the way Christ did he avoids this judgmental-ism. It is his desire that all should be saved, not that many should be rejected because they would not ask for mercy from the stern, thunderous God. Christ gave us mercy, mercifully.

Body and blood

God spent several thousand years dealing with the people of the Old Testament. One of the consistent lessons is that sin requires atonement if God is to be merciful. More than that, if there is to be atonement for all sins once and for all, it must be a perfect atonement. A perfect atonement means a perfect sacrifice, and the only example of that is Christ on the Cross. As you partake this morning, remember that you are handling the body and blood of Christ given for you as an atoning sacrifice. May I suggest, therefore, that you examine how will you imitate your Lord in giving mercy, doing justice and walking in humility.


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