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Communion Meditations (2018)



Originally scheduled for  August 5

One of the accusations the enemies of Christ made repeatedly was that he partied heartily with all the wrong sorts of people. Zacchaeus is a good example; we see here how willingly Christ calls to this man. In fact, he invites himself to lunch with Zacchaeus. The crowd has a rather negative reaction to this; they have the feeling that Christ should associate only with “worthy” sinners — not the kind of traitorious scum like a tax collector for the invading Romans. But the distinction between “worthy” and “unworthy” sinners is rather a difficult one — so difficult that as far as we can tell Christ never attempted it.

We sometimes find a parallel to this attitude in communion. Some churches restrict communion only to their members; others restrict communion from those whom they consider unworthy to have it. We seem to feel that communion is for “good guys” only. But the Scripture gives us a little different guidance; we don’t have to be worthy to take communion — but we have to take it in a worthy manner.

You can see something of that here in the story of Zacchaeus. Look at his reaction: he is immediately glad, highly grateful and welcomes Christ into his home. His response to the call of Christ is one of obedience. He knows what the Old Testament law says he must do to make amends for his sins — and he does it. He provides restitution in accord with the law. In return, he receives forgiveness.

Making the distinction is a little easier when you remember the purposes of communion:

·         The first purpose is to remember Christ and his sacrifice. For the unworthy, this is the opening for the Holy Spirit to come forward and convict them of sin and judgment to come.

·         The second purpose is to provoke us to self-examination. If we are to take communion in a worthy manner, that must include such repentance as we need.

So if one of the unworthy sinners is sitting next to you, do not judge them. Rather, pray that they will repent as they consider the sacrifice of Christ. Pray that they will make such corrections and amendments as are within their power. Then pray that Christ will forgive them — and that you will too.

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