Today as we take part in communion, we call it The Lord’s Supper, I’d like for us to remember one important thing. The apostle Paul tells us in First Corinthians 11:26, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” So as we take part in Communion we are proclaiming the Lord’s death. So let’s do that and also remember that while we proclaim His death, Jesus’ death itself proclaims the wonderful character and love of God. That was the whole purpose of Jesus’ life. It was His mission. Jesus glorified the Father. He manifested God’s name and character to a world that was darkened by all the lies and misrepresentation of the devil. And the demons are still shuddering because of it.
Throughout His life, you see, day by day, Jesus showed how tremendously loving the Father is by loving everyone, even little children. He showed how incredibly patient God is by relating to people with great respect and dignity, even though He wasn’t treated very well Himself. And then at the end of His amazing life there came this magnificent display of God’s character.
Do you remember that on the night that Jesus was arrested that He was tried illegally? Do you remember the part about Him being falsely accused? Do you remember how He was grossly insulted? But do you remember Him ever getting angry? Do you? No. Not once did He become angry. Jesus was horribly beaten twice that night and allowed no sleep, no food. But do you recall Him ever becoming irritated and annoyed with those who mistreated Him? Do you? No. It didn’t happen.
The scripture tells us that they made a sport out of hitting His wounded head. Let me ask you? How would you have felt? They mocked the story of His mysterious birth, insulting Him as illegitimate. And can you imagine how you would feel with someone, many people, spitting in your face? Would you take it quietly, without a word? But through all of this, did Jesus’ patience ever run out? Did he become angry in response, in retaliation for his tormentors? Never. Never did. Not once. Oh, to see the God-like calm composure in His bearing, and yet the kindness. Even as they nailed Him to the cross, He said, ”Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Now, wouldn’t you think that if Jesus asked the Father to forgive those who were torturing Him, that He had already forgiven them Himself? And yet none of them asked for that. And no one stood between them and Jesus, pleading with Jesus to forgive them. Jesus forgave them anyway. And according to John 1, as we have just read in the scripture, Jesus has not only been with God from the beginning, He was God, Himself.
Now remember that Jesus told His disciples, it’s in John 16, verses 26 and 27, that there is no need for Jesus to pray to the Father for us, because the Father loves us Himself. That is, He’s just as loving as the Son. And it would follow that He is just as forgiving as the Son. So wouldn’t that mean that if the Father had been hanging there instead of Jesus, on that cross, He would have been just as ready to forgive His tormentors as was His Son, even though no one interceded for them?
And I love the story of what happened after that. You remember, of course, that there were two criminals who were crucified with Jesus, one on either side. Those two men were bandits or robbers. Well, we talk about the ‘thief’ on the cross. And at first, both of them joined in mocking Jesus. And then finally, one of them said to the other, “We deserve to be here, but this Man, He has done nothing wrong.” And then after that, Jesus heard an expression of faith that for a while must have brightened the darkness around Him. “Jesus,” he said, “remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” What faith and trust and conviction that even though Jesus was hanging there on a cross, that this man knew Jesus was not only the Messiah but He was coming back.
What was it that won the thief on the cross? What gave him the conviction that Jesus was that coming Messiah? Was it because he began to remember all of the stories that he’d heard of Jesus healing the sick and pardoning sin? Was it seeing the gracious and patient manner in which Jesus suffered? Such tremendous composure and peace. Was it hearing Jesus forgive His cruel tormentors? Well certainly this. Perhaps since the thief had admitted that he was a criminal and he knew at this point in his life he really needed God’s mercy, because God was the next thing he knew he was going to see, facing the judgement, in his mind. And so he was drawn to Jesus because he wanted to be in a kingdom ruled by such a forgiving King.
And then before Jesus died, He said something really important. Now He did not say, “God, My God, why are You killing Me?” I’ve often heard people referring to God “pouring out His wrath” on His Son. I don’t believe that happened, at least, not in the way they understand it. No. Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” In other words, “Why have You given Me up?” He felt this separation from the Father. He couldn’t feel the Father’s presence. He was dying the death caused by sin which separates us from God. (See Matthew 27:46).
But where was God? Although Christ could not feel the Father’s presence, He was right there suffering along with His Son. Second Corinthians 5:19 tells us that God was in Christ. Yes, God was in Christ “reconciling the world unto Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” Oh, the amazing love of God for you and for me! God didn’t require us to demonstrate the truth of God’s warning in the very beginning that sin causes death, but He chose to walk the road of Calvary Himself so that You and I might be won back to Him. Aren’t you thankful for that?
So yes, the cross proclaims that God is loving, that God is righteous and truthful, and that God is so incredibly self-sacrificing and humble and unselfish. Yes, the cross proclaims the truth about His wonderful character and that is the basis of our relationship of trust with Him. If we don’t have that, then why should we spend eternity with Him? We won’t, and we won’t want to, unless we understand Him as He is, and love Him and like Him for who He is. I want that kind of relationship, don’t you?
Jesus said, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all to Me.” In fact, this is what the devil is afraid of, that people will see this truth about God and it will change them and reconcile them back to God, and win them back to God.
And so as we take part in the ordinance of humility and then take part in the Lord’s supper, let’s think of the kind of God who would give Himself in such a way that we could be won back to Him at such great cost to Himself.
Let’s separate at this time.
As I was thinking about this service this morning, my thoughts turned to the book of Hebrews, chapter nine, where Paul tells us, “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood, He entered the most holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” And then, after contrasting with the blood of bulls and goats, he says, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” And so it is that we read in Mark 14, “As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it and gave it to them and said, ‘Take, eat. This is My body.’ Then He took the cup and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them and they all drank from it, and He said to them, ‘This is My blood of the new covenant which is shed for many.’” Let us bow our heads as we pray.
Our heavenly Father. We praise You for the tremendous unfathomable gift that You made. The gift of Your Son. We thank You so much for the salvation that is ours by faith in Jesus and the blood that He shed for us. We thank You, Lord, that though we are sinners, yet through Your grace and through the blood of Jesus, we may be made righteous. We thank You Father, that eternal life is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord. And as we participate in this special service, may we be reminded anew of it’s significance and the special significance to each of us when Jesus died on calvary. We ask these things in His name. Amen.
It always amazes me that the scripture says that Jesus took the bread that symbolized His own body given like bread to be eaten. To become nourishment for those who are hungry, that His own body, given as a sacrifice, as an example of God’s love, as a redemption for us. This body, His own body, given in such a violent way, for our use, our good. He gives thanks for the bread that symbolizes what He’s about to do. He gave thanks and broke it and gave it to them saying, “’This is My body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’”
“And likewise, He also took the cup after supper saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.’”
We have just eaten the emblems of Jesus’ sacrifice. His body, His blood, His death, which was infinitely necessary for our salvation. Hopefully, it’s not just something we come to church and do. “Oh, that thing at church we did today.” A ritual. A tradition. But something that has great meaning, and just as we eat the bread and drink the juice which represents this incredible sacrifice, we take in all that it means into our life, into our thinking, and let the sacrifice of God, the almighty Creator of the universe, Who is infinite in power and majesty, would come here to this earth and at great cost to Himself, would sacrifice Himself so that we might be won back to Him and to life and to salvation. This God Who is infinite in graciousness and love, for even the smallest of His creation. And that we would take the meaning of that kind of God into our lives and let it change the way we think and become a part of us. What a God. Let’s worship Him the rest of our lives.
Before we sing our closing song, let us remember that as you exit, there will be an offering plate for those who are in need. And let’s sing hymn number 1 hundred 63. “At The Cross”.
Hymn of Praise: #30, Holy God, We Praise Your Name Scripture: John 1:1,14 Hymn of Response: #163, At the Cross
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 10/16/09