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Communion Meditations (2006)

Grace and Power

Originally delivered July 16

He ate with sinners so that you might know his grace and power—Rabanus

It is a seldom-preached theme—the condescension of Christ.  But consider how low our Lord stooped so that we might have His mercy:

· First, He came in the flesh, born like the rest of us.  C. S. Lewis pictured it as turning yourself into a barnacle—to save the other barnacles.  Nothing but pure love would move Him to this.  The King James Version phrased it eloquently:  He “emptied Himself.”

· See, also, that He did not seek to be a member of the pious and learned.  He came to seek and save the lost.  So we find him dining with sinners, to the disgust of the religious leaders of His time.

· The ultimate in this is the Crucifixion.  He went voluntarily to a horrible death to be the salvation of those same sinners.

He ate with sinners!

· He was noted for eating with real sinners, not just the pious who realized that all have sinned.  Sinners whose reputations were earned—men like Matthew, who betrayed his people to be a tax collector for the invading Romans.  When Matthew was called to follow Jesus, his first reaction was to throw a party—and invite all the other sinners too.

· It was not a grudging participation.  Indeed, Jesus was the life of the party.  Remember the water turned into wine?  Do you not recall how His disciples were not fasting, simply because He was with them?

It is impossible to make light dirty;  especially the Light of the World.

Do you see it?  We sometimes say that Jesus was not afraid to dine with sinners.  Afraid?  He enjoyed it.  We are told that when a sinner comes home, the angels in heaven rejoice.  How much more, then, when Matthew accepted the call, will Jesus party with him?  When Zaccheus repents, Jesus says, “This day is salvation come to this house.”  If His grace flows even to the worst of society, how can it not flow to all who will have it?

But this is not merely good wishes; His grace is accompanied by power.  Who among us could spend our lives among prostitutes and drug dealers and not be dragged into sin?  But His grace comes with the power of the Resurrection.  Even the vilest offender can receive effective pardon from our Lord.

As you take the cup and the bread, remember that His grace extends to you, no matter what you have done.  And He has the power to back that up.  Remember the sacrifice that made this effective for us—and the one Who gave so much that we might live.

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