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Communion Meditations (2016)

Hard Saying

John 6:53-58

Originally scheduled for July 24

In one of the most controversial passages of the New Testament, Christ explains the necessity of communion to his disciples. If you are Roman Catholic, you take this section quite literally. This is called transubstantiation. There are several versions of this, but for Protestants it is typically taken as a symbolic explanation. Either way, however, it is commanded that the Christian take communion. The reason is quite simple; his body and blood as given in communion are the mechanism of his ongoing grace towards us. If you take communion, with sincerity, then you are one of his forgiven children called the church.

Some of us would ask: “how do I know this is real?” Let us begin with the obvious. He who spoke and the universe began is the ultimate source of reality. If he tells you something is real then in one sense or another it must be real. He is the source of reality, and he says it’s real. There is more to it than that. We are told in this passage that those who do partake of communion live in Christ and Christ lives in them. This is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; it is also the source of unity of the church. Indeed, Christ tells us that the words he has spoken to us are in fact spiritual life for us. Nothing else we can touch with our hands is as real as communion.

To those who partake, Christ has promised resurrection from the dead. He tells us that we already have eternal life; but this might just be that life so favored by cartoonists of people floating around on clouds playing harps. This is a very convenient metaphor, but it is precisely what Christ does not promise. You have eternal life, right now. In addition to that, he tells you that he will raise you up in bodily form on the last day. You are a human being. Human beings have bodies. At the last day he will reunite body and spirit. After that, you will live forever. That is the promise Christ makes to those who partake of communion.

Communion is the source of our fellowship with Christ, and is therefore the source of the fellowship of the church. Those in His church have eternal life, will be raised on the last day and live forever. These facts have been obscured by the debate about transubstantiation, but let us realize the truth: unless you partake of communion, genuinely and sincerely, you are not part of the church. You are not in fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ. Consider well, then, what your attitude should be towards this most sacred of meals.

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