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Communion Meditations (2022)



Originally scheduled for January 23

If we are to have the proper attitude towards communion, at some point we must contemplate the death of Christ. We have an interesting testimony concerning that death from one of the robbers who were crucified with him. We can learn a lot from the reaction of this man, and pick up some worthwhile tips on what to do during and after communion. First, the Scripture.

One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? "And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."

(Luke 23:39-43 NASB)



The man has a gift for the blindingly obvious. He’s being executed for his crimes, and admits that he is guilty. All too often our acknowledgment of our sins is rather perfunctory. Yes, I’m a sinner but nothing really specific. This man acknowledges that he did it. Everyone else around knows it, but he owns up to it. He presents no excuse, not just the admission that he did it.

More than that, he acknowledges that he deserves the punishment he’s being given. He is the pained recipient of justice. It’s not just who did it, it’s that God is just in punishing it. Our sinfulness combined with the justice of God reveals the fact that we deserve what we get. We often think we deserve heaven; we don’t. Christians don’t line up to get what they deserve, they get in the line marked “Mercy.” There is no mercy if there is no justice. To say that God is just and merciful is not a contradiction.

So what about us? Are we willing to confess our sins, acknowledge the justice of God and that we deserve his punishment — but get his mercy?

Fellow Man

Please note that the robber is not being entirely selfish. He exhibits a lively concern for his fellow robber. The thought process is relatively simple: time is short. Fellow, you’re dying on a cross and it’s not going to take forever. Once you’re dead it’s too late to do anything about it. You’re about to meet your maker and received divine, eternal justice. Don’t you think that you should do something about it while you have the chance?

That’s why the Scripture teaches us that we should ask the Lord to number of our days. You’re not guaranteed tomorrow, nor is your neighbor. So I ask you: is there someone in your neighborhood who needs to consider the time is short, eternity is long, hell is hot — but Jesus saves.

This is not really much to do with apologetics; it’s much more about attitude. The other robber’s attitude is that it’s all about one person — me. The concern is for that attitude because it misses the point. Facts are easy to deal with and attitudes are hard. Sometimes you have to do with an attitude that says “I’m just not listening.” It’s not easy; just necessary. Should someone go to hell because you wouldn’t try to talk to them?

Look to Jesus for Hope

Finally, it does no good to acknowledge the problem if there is no solution. Fortunately, Jesus is the solution. Our robber appeals to Jesus in hope — Jesus provides hope lavishly. Forgiveness is a part of this process but it’s unmentioned, as if it were too obvious to talk about.

And what a hope it is! Jesus doesn’t promise him that he’ll be okay; he doesn’t tell him that he’ll be in a good spot. He tells him that he will be in paradise. I’m not sure what that means, but it’s got to be good when Jesus promises it. More than that, he promises the robber that he will be “with Him.” The closer you are to Jesus, the more joy arises in your heart.

So, as you partake of communion this morning, do so in memory of Christ’s death. Contemplate Him hanging on the cross and listen to the man next to him. Confess and acknowledge the justice of God. Examine your life and see if there is someone who needs you to speak. And most of all, look to Jesus for Hope.

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