You need a devotion for the Lord's Supper. This book is for you! You can use as written or as a starting point for your own thoughts. Inspired by various events and the author's experiences, these devotions direct our thoughts to Jesus and his redemptive sacrifice for us.
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About the Author
Jim Gresham is from Jeannette, PA and has served as a deacon, elder, teacher, worship leader etc. at Hempfield Church of Christ for many years. His degree is in engineering and he works in the nuclear power industry. He and his wife, Dianne, have one daughter.
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Our Communion Worship
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drinks of the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of the Lord eat and drink judgment on themselves. (1 Corinthians 11:23–29)
Of all the things we do when the church comes together to worship, the Lord's Supper stands out as unique and quite different from all the rest.
First, it is the only thing that Jesus instructed us to do when we come together. Singing, prayer, and preaching are good things to do, and we have evidence in Scripture that the early church did these things when they gathered, but the Communion meal is the only command from Jesus.
Communion is the most personal part of our worship. The other things we do are corporate, and our expressions of worship are, to some degree, dependent on the participation of our fellow worshipers. The partaking of the loaf and the cup are just an exchange between us and Jesus.
It is the quietest part of our worship. We attempt to block out other distractions and just focus on him.
Communion is the most intimate part of our worship. As we examine ourselves, we expose our innermost selves to our Lord, He, in turn, presents to us his Body and his Blood.
It is the most serious part of our worship. The sacrifice represented by the bread and the wine is the greatest expression of love ever, and we are overwhelmed that Jesus died for each of us. The manner in which we participate is supremely important; if we partake in a way that is not worthy, we are bringing condemnation upon ourselves. It is crucial that we take this time seriously and truly recognize the Body of the Lord.
The Lord's Supper prepares us for eternity in a unique way. As we partake, we proclaim his death, but we also reaffirm our hope in his return and anticipate sharing this meal with Jesus in heaven.
Most of us experience "sticker shock" from time to time when the price of an object we were planning to purchase is much higher than we expected. In some cases, the price is also higher than we can afford, and we're forced to choose a cheaper alternative or do without that item entirely. Other times, we have no choice, and we just have to pay the high price because the item or service is something we cannot do without. Sticker shock fades, though. The first couple of times you pay "the highest price ever" for gasoline, it hurts, but after a few times it becomes normal to you, and you don't give it much thought.
Do you ever experience sticker shock when you think about your salvation?
Do you think God did?
We didn't pay the price for our salvation, God did. The price was steep — it couldn't have been any higher. The amazing thing is, he didn't have to pay that price; God owed us nothing. He could have walked away but he didn't. He paid the price he did not owe for a debt we could not pay so that are sins could be washed away and we could be reconciled to him.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6–11)
But what about us? Are we still shocked at the high price God had to pay for our salvation, or have we become so used to the idea that we don't give it much thought? The Lord gave us this Communion meal as a remembrance of him. We can't remember him without thinking about what he did for us, and we can't think about what he did for us without being overwhelmed by how much it cost him to do it.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!" So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) (John 20:1–9)
I think the disciples had an "aha moment" at the tomb that day. The reason for all the things that had happened in the last week was starting to make sense to them — they didn't grasp everything yet, but they were beginning to understand.
The crucifixion that had seemed like a final defeat now had a purpose. The supper in the upper room, which had seemed like just an unusual twist on an age-old tradition, now took on a whole new significance. The teachings and parables of Jesus, which had seemed enigmatic, now had meaning and relevance.
It's amazing the clarity that comes from viewing these events from the empty tomb. If there had been no resurrection, the crucifixion would have been just a sad story about a good man unjustly accused. The story would have soon been forgotten. But it wasn't just a good man who died on the cross, it was the Son of God. He couldn't be defeated by death, and his sacrifice bought the redemption for us all.
If there had been no resurrection, the emblems of the Lord's Supper would be meaningless and trivial. But there was a resurrection. And so, the bread is the Body of the one who whose perfect life enabled him to be the perfect — and the only possible — sacrifice for our redemption. Because there was a resurrection, the cup contains the Blood, which is the only way our sins could be covered — the sins that had alienated us from God.
All this falls into place when we see it from the empty tomb. But it's not merely an explanation to aid our understanding, it is all that matters. Here's what Paul had to say about it:
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:1–4)
He Became Sin
Did you sin last week?
I suspect we all have to admit that we did. Now think about that sin and imagine that you're in that situation again. Imagine that at that very moment, you get a tap on the shoulder and Jesus says to you, "Let me do that." You're on the phone, about to reveal some juicy piece of gossip, and Jesus says, "Let me tell them what I heard." You're at the store and Jesus says, "Let me keep the extra change the clerk gave you by mistake." You're looking at inappropriate pictures on the Internet and Jesus says, "Give me that mouse." Jesus says, "Let me take that, let me say that, let me think that, let me do that, let me eat that."
That's offensive to think about, isn't it? It feels blasphemous and disgusting to even say such a thing. Yet, we read in 2 Corinthians 5:21:
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
If we are repulsed by the idea of Jesus replacing us in our sins, how do you think God feels? We're used to our sins and, in many cases, have grown quite comfortable with them. God, who is holy and perfect, despises our sin. They are a rebellion against his sovereignty, a rejection of his grace, and an expression of contempt for his love for us. He hates our sin so much that he let his son be crucified so those sins could be taken away. He paid the penalty we deserved. Jesus didn't become a sinner, but he was punished as if he had.
When we take Communion, we are instructed to examine ourselves. If we're honest, we're disgusted by what we see. What does God see? If we're Christians, he sees righteousness.
I'm Home Now
I want to share a story with you. It's a story of love, it's a story of hope, and it's a story of eternity. It's a true story. It's been a while since I first heard it, so I may not have all the details exactly correct, but this is the way I remember it.
Almost immediately after Ed and Ruth were married, Ed left to go to war. But after a time, he came home and they built a home and raised a family. Eventually their children grew older and moved out of the house. Ed and Ruth grew older too, and in his later years, Ed developed Parkinson's disease. A time came when their large house demanded more care than they could give. They decided to sell the house and move to another state.
After a few years, Ed lost his battle with Parkinson's, and the family brought his body back to Pennsylvania to be buried. After the funeral and the burial, Ruth decided she wanted to drive out to the old house. The new owners of the house had been doing some remodeling, and the upstairs bedrooms in the house had some built-in drawer units that had to be removed as part of the project. When these units were removed, they found a piece of paper that had fallen behind the drawers many years earlier. They gave it to Ruth that day.
When Ed returned from the war, he sent Ruth a telegram as soon as he reached the United States to let her know he had arrived safely. The paper that had stayed behind those drawers for so many years was that telegram. The message on the telegram that Ruth received that day, for a second time, said: "I'm home now. See you soon. Love, Ed."
Intended for one purpose, the message now beautifully served a second purpose of providing peace and comfort.
Jesus has sent us a message that has reached across the ages. Originally delivered to another audience in a different time and a different place, it speaks to us with a message of peace and comfort. It tells us a story of love, a story of hope, and a story that speaks to us of eternity. The message goes like this:
"This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me ... This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." (1 Corinthians 11:24–25)
A Call to Commitment
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. "He himself bore our sins" in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; "by his wounds you have been healed." For "you were like sheep going astray," but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:21–25)
The world can be an ugly place. Nations war with other nations, innocent people die at the hands of extremists who commit unspeakable violent acts, and countries are torn apart by civil war.
Men set themselves against men, friendships are broken by jealousy, homes are disrupted by infidelity, and neighborhoods are divided by gossip. Is there no hope?
God doesn't offer an instant cure for the world's woes. He does offer peace and healing to anyone who will accept and follow his Son.
Because we have been healed by his wounds, because we have been saved by his death on the cross and have experienced that peace which is beyond human understanding, we have gathered to give thanks.
The Communion meal is a call to commitment — to follow in his steps, even though it could mean suffering. We know that any suffering we might experience is bearable because of the suffering Jesus experienced. Only he can provide the healing and strength we need to bear it. And only he can turn it into a glorious victory.
So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Timothy 1:8–10)
We Have a Mediator
If you're familiar with the story of Job in the Old Testament, you know that Job had a very difficult time in his life. He lost his possessions, then he lost his children, and finally he lost his health. Job's life became one of despair. His friends come to him to comfort him and to give him advice. Their conversation is recorded for us in Scripture. At one point in the conversation, Job says something that indicates the depth of his despair:
"How can a person be declared innocent in God's sight? If someone wanted to take God to court, would it be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times? For God is so wise and so mighty. Who has ever challenged him successfully? ... God is not a mortal like me, so I cannot argue with him or take him to trial. If only there were a mediator between us, someone who could bring us together. The mediator could make God stop beating me, and I would no longer live in terror of his punishment. Then I could speak to him without fear, but I cannot do that in my own strength." (Job 9:2–4, 32–35 NLT)
Job's situation was hopeless. There was no one to mediate between God and him and so Job despaired.
By the grace of God, all of us here today have something that Job did not have: A mediator between God and us. We don't have to live a life of hopelessness and despair.
[God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:4–6)
God, in his great love, provided a way to remove the hopelessness of our lives. He provided a way for us to be reconciled to him. He provided us someone to secure our freedom from sin and separation and hopelessness and despair.
He sent his Son. It cost him dearly, but he loved us enough to make the sacrifice.
The night before Jesus made that ultimate sacrifice, he gave his disciples a memorial so that they would never forget that there is a mediator between God and man. We refer to this memorial as the Lord's Supper.
We partake of the Lord's Supper so that we will never forget we have a
Excerpted from "It's Suppertime"
Copyright © 2018 James Gresham.
Excerpted by permission of CrossLink Publishing.
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Table of Contents
Our Communion Worship 3
Sticker Shock 5
Aha Moment 7
He Became Sin 9
I'm Home Now 11
A Call to Commitment 13
We Have a Mediator 15
God Devises Ways 17
Saved and Adopted 19
What: Can Wash Away My Sin? 21
No Man Can Redeem the Life of Another 23
Remembering What Was Forgotten 25
The King Will Return 27
He Must Be Lord Too 29
Of First Importance 31
In a Worthy Manner 37
Washing Our Hands 41
The Californian 43
Sacrifice and the Peace Offering 45
Jesus' Prayer for Us 47
Set Your Hearts or Things Above 49
A Child of the King 51
The Great Power Outage 53
True Freedom 55
Whetting Our Appetite 57
He Took Our Punishment 59
A Prayer Request Not Granted 61
Redeemer, Savior, Friend 63
Give Him Your Heart 67
Thankful for the Cross 69
Paying Our Dues 71
The Resurrection 73
We Will Never Forget 75
The Old and New Contract 77
He Feeds Us 79
Day of Atonement 81
Lunch with the President 83
Why Would He Do It? 85
What Have You Brought to Me? 87
Sitting with Jesus at the Table 89
Grace and Peace 93
Guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns 95
Robert E. Lee Takes Communion 99
Breaking Bread with Our Lord 101
Because He Loves Us 103
Jesus' Purpose 105
We Must Recognize Jesus 107
At the Cross 109
About the Author 111