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Communion Meditations (2021)

 

Furnace

Originally scheduled for March 21

It is a fact: the Christian is tried and refined in the furnace of affliction. If you want to know a man’s character, listen to the stories he tells. At first you will be humorous but as you get to know him you’ll find stories of affliction and suffering that really made him who he is. None of us is a fan of being afflicted; but affliction does carry with it some benefits.

·          [Philippians 3:10] if you suffer for Christ, it means you’re on the team. You are one of Christ’s disciples. Many of us wonder about that; now you know.

·          [First Peter 4:14] the Scriptures explicitly tell us here that when we suffer affliction for Christ, we are blessed by the Holy Spirit.

·          [Second Corinthians 1:3-5] one of the great purposes of affliction is that in our suffering we learn how to comfort others who are going through the same thing. This builds up the church as well as building up the Christian.

It sometimes comes as a surprise to a Christian to find that Christ suffered through affliction as well. As the primary rule of conduct for a Christian is the imitation of Christ, it is good to know that he went through it too .

·          [Hebrews 2:9-10] we are told that he was made perfect through suffering. The phrase does not mean that he was cured of sin, but rather shaped to God’s purposes completely.

·          [Hebrews 2:18] in particular, we are told that Christ suffered through temptation as only the truly righteous can.

·          [First Peter 2:21] the apostle makes it clear here that much of Christ’s work, including his suffering, is as an example for us.

·          [First Peter 2:24] Peter makes this clear also: by his wounds you are healed. As was prophesied in the Old Testament, it is by Christ suffering that we are offered God’s grace.

Communion reminds us of the suffering of Christ. The bread, which represents his body, reminds us of the beatings he received, the agony of carrying the cross and ultimately the crucifixion itself. Crucifixion, the doctors tell us, is a form of slow-motion drowning.

The wine, which represents his blood, reminds us of the great drops of blood he wept in the garden of Gethsemane. It reminds us of the bleeding from his head when they placed the crown of thorns upon it. Finally, it reminds us of the nails in his hands and feet and the spear wound to his side. We all know what it is to suffer. We need to remember that he suffered so that we might have God’s grace. Therefore, as you partake this morning, do so in a serious and thoughtful manner as befits the memory of the Son of God suffering for us.

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