A restaurant that served only one dish probably wouldn’t stay in business very long. But that really is the only thing we offer, one menu item, the body and blood of Jesus Christ. But that is all we truly need. Let me take you into 1 John. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” If I asked you who was the worse person you know, you would say maybe Hitler or Stalin. Maybe you would think of someone in your life. If you asked the Apostle Paul the same question, he would answer without hesitation, “Me.” Paul considered himself the worse sinner to walk the earth.
Now I ask you again. Who is the worse sinner in the world? The truth is, there is no one worse than each of us. We deserve the curse of sin. We are getting exactly what we earned. But when Paul confessed he was the worse, he also confessed that Jesus died for him. And that is why our one menu item is the only thing we ever need. We crave it the body and blood of Jesus given and shed for the forgiveness of our sins. With this one simple menu item, he purifies us of all unrighteousness, every bad thing, every sin, everything.
Jesus takes us back to the Garden of Eden before the fall. Eden literally means pure delight. Because of Christ’s body and blood, it is Eden all over again. The sin that separates is gone because of the body and blood. We are God’s children again. We are heirs of eternal life.
If someone looks for money, I may be able to help, but I will do better to take them to the story of the rich man and poor Lazarus and tell them I have something better, Jesus, so if they happen to be poor all their lives, they will be richer than the richest people on earth. We will pray in the hospital for healing, but if the surgery does not go well, God will take this person to heaven because of Jesus which is better by far.
This is what Jesus meant when he said, “He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” We could always use a little more money, better health, more energy, more friends, but with Jesus, we have all we ever will need.
II. The special meal of Communion.
If you heard these words, and believe, you are saved. But Jesus goes one step further. “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”
We are part of a community known as St. Peter. There may be 11,000 different people living here, all with different names, ethnic backgrounds, even religious affiliations, yet we form one community known as St. Peter. I like that word, “community.” You see the word “unity.” It means we are united together in some way.
Friends, that is why my favorite word for the Lord’s Supper is Communion. There is something special going on here. You see two things, trays full of cups of wine and a plate with wafers. But there is a community here. United with that simple wine and bread is the very body and blood of Jesus. In the Greek, the word for “participates” is the same one we would translate community or fellowship, sometimes even marriage. Even Jesus tells us, “This is my body,” This is my blood.” In a unique, mysterious way, all four are there: bread and wine, and the body and the blood.
So, what is the purpose of this meal? Community. Remember, you just heard about the body and blood of Jesus given and shed at the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. Now God gives us the very body and blood which won that forgiveness with the bread and wine. The communion here solidifies and strengthens the communion we have with a holy God.
In two weeks it will be Easter. We will have a special Easter breakfast. We don’t need it, but it is fun and really makes the day special. At Thanksgiving we Americans have a special thanksgiving meal, almost always with turkey. We don’t have to have a meal, but it reminds us of the Pilgrims, giving thanks and so on. The Old Testament Israelites had the Passover lamb. That is why Jesus gives us Communion. Just as a table full of food at Thanksgiving reminds us how thankful we are, Communion really drives home the fact we are truly forgiven. We can see, touch, taste it. We do this, as Jesus tells, in remembrance of him.
P. 2 March 17, 2013
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