This week we get to study communion (also known as The Lord's Supper to some and as Eucharist to others). Yesterday, The Way (the church we have begun here in Casper) participated in Communion together for the first time. Sure, we share a meal together each week and we give thanks and remember what Jesus has done each time we do that...but yesterday we stopped and intentionally participated in Communion as seen in the Bible. This is where Jesus gathered his disciples together to share this meal and there is great significance in it for us today. You can read about it in:
Matthew 26:17-30/Mark 14:12-26/Luke 22:7-20
To come to the Lord's Table we should always do several things. Today let's look at a vital part of preparing for communion: Looking Back. We don't just look back for memory sake...we look back to see the mighty things that God has done and to give Him thanks for it. In each of the Bible text's above you see that Jesus gives thanks. When we 'give thanks' we are most often looking back to what God has done in our lives. Sure we can be thankful for current things but it is usually an event that is now behind us that draws our thanksgiving. By the way, the meaning of the word Eucharist is to give thanks (the actual greek word it is derived from is Eucharisto).
So, what do we look back to? Here are three good things that we should always have in our mind and study as we commune with our God:
1. The first Passover. If you ready Exodus 12 you get the full picture of how this annual feast was instituted. You see the power of Almighty God displayed through His rescue of His people from slavery. God delivers those that had covered their homes with the blood of a pure lamb. He tells them to remember this great act but celebrating, remembering and giving thanks each year in the time of Passover...giving thanks that God's Mercy passed over the homes with the blood and giving thanks that God's grace brought them to a new place and out of slavery.
2. The Cross. When we look back and give thanks we must look the the Cross of Jesus Christ. When Jesus utters the words 'It is Finished' in John 19 He accomplished the ultimate fulfillment of the Passover. He applied His blood (once for all time) mankind for to grant us mercy from the judgement of God and give us the grace of salvation. In 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 you can see that Jesus is our Passover Lamb. He delivered us from the heavy slavery to sin. He was the substitute for not only the lamb sacrifice of Passover but was the substitute for you and me. He died for us!
3. To our own past. Seeing God rescue Israelites is good. Seeing Jesus take the Cross for mankind is fabulous...but if you do not see how that applies to you personally then this Holy Meal will be wholly ritual. Read this Bible Text:
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:1-6 NLT)
God's Mercy is just as great for you as it was for the people of Israel. His Grace that was given to mankind at the Cross was given for YOU. If you have become a follower of Jesus then you can look back to a time just like this Ephesians text gives us...a time when you were dead in sin. Now you are alive in Christ.
If you are not yet a follower of Jesus then you are still dead in sin. Do you want to made alive in Christ. You can come to Communion with God for the first time by accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. By believing that He gave His life for you (His broken body is represented spiritually by the Bread of Communion)...by believing that He shed His Blood for you (His Blood is represented spiritually by the cup of Communion). By confessing your sin to Him and asking for His forgiveness you apply His blood to your life very similarly to the passover lamb's of Exodus 12.
Looking back and giving thanks shouldn't just be a process for when you and your church take of the bread and the cup...it should be a regular occurrence. Seeing what God has done can always inspire us and direct us as to what God is doing, can do and will do.
Eucharist...giving thanks. Let's come to The Lord's Table doing just that.