Originally scheduled for July 26
The Old Testament brings to us a number of concepts which are
completed in the New Testament. This can sometimes give rise to
misconceptions. Let’s take a look at the scripture in this case and
carry the thought through to the New Testament.
When the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice,
he shall die for it. And when the wicked turns from his wickedness
and does what is just and right, he shall live by this. Yet you say,
'The way of the Lord is not just.' O house of Israel, I will judge
each of you according to his ways."
(Ezekiel 33:18-20 ESV)
If you don’t pay attention to what else is going on here, you might
go in for the “cosmic bean counter” theory. The idea is that God
somehow is going to add up your good deeds and your bad deeds and
see which is heavier. The result determines whether you go to heaven
or hell. But if you read what he says here, it’s much more like a
question of what is your direction. If you are headed in the way of
wickedness, God wants you to turn around and go into the way of
righteousness — and promises you that you will live if you do this.
Likewise, if you are righteous and then decide that God has enough
white beans, you can go ahead and do some wickedness, you lose — you
die. Note that what seems to count here is not what you have done
(or haven’t) but which direction you’re headed.
The cosmic bean counter types at this point begin to make a fine
haired distinction: some sins are important, while others are
trivial. Just stick to the trivial and you’ll be fine. This theory
ignores the ultimate wickedness of sin itself. God does not want you
to be a lightweight sinner — he wants you to be a heavyweight saint.
The cost of sin and the love of God who wants you to repent are both
shown at the Cross.
Let us turn our minds to understand this in communion. In the bread
we see his body. Remember what that body went through: the lashings,
the crown of thorns, the beatings and the humiliation. He did not go
through this so that you could get away with lightweight sins. He
did it so that all your sins might be forgiven. His body was racked
with pain and beaten to the point where he was almost — but not
quite — dead. Then he was nailed to the cross and died in agony.
In the cup we see his blood. The people of his time would’ve
understood that in the blood there is the life. If someone let all
of your blood leak out, you would die. He knew he would be giving
his very life, bleeding through the strokes of the lash. This is not
a minor adjustment to your sins — it is God saying that he loves us
so much that he would give his only begotten son on the cross so
that we might be forgiven.
Therefore, as you partake, do so in a solemn manner. You are
remembering his death; you are remembering his love that caused it;
you are remembering his resurrection; you are remembering that he
will return in glory.