Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bread and Wine

For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

                        1 Corinthians 11.26

Remembering the Price

Today being the first Sunday in August, many congregations will pause for the Lord’s Supper. Coupled with worshipers who celebrate Communion weekly, it’s likely more Christians will think about Christ’s sacrifice today than any other Sunday this month. The bread reminds us of His body, broken and tortured, splayed between Heaven and Earth on the altar of the cross. The cup recognizes the life poured out in His blood.

Jesus was assassinated—railroaded by a conspiracy to convict and execute Him on false charges. Yet, in the final analysis, the punishment fit the crime because Christ took it on Himself to pay the penalty for humankind’s lawlessness. Having cheapened what God gave us with selfishness, irresponsibility, and disobedience, it cost Jesus’s life to restore our lives to their original value. With Communion, we remember the enormous price Christ offered to reestablish our relationship with God.

The Great Leveler

It’s essential that the horror and brutality of the crucifixion not eclipse the eternal truth of its reality. In atoning for everyone at once, Jesus forever struck down the notion that any one of us is better than the other. Before this, the Law exacted specific prices for specific behaviors; the weight of the sin determined the sacrifice needed for forgiveness. Calvary became the great leveler. It confirmed our equality is based on fallibility—and, consequently, each of us has equal access to God’s grace.

All have sinned,” Romans 3.23 tells us. If, in my arrogance and ignorance (one being impossible without the other), I’m convinced God accepts me but rejects you because your sins are worse than mine, I urgently need to take a good look at the cross. There I discover no price difference for transgressions. Jesus paid for both of our sins with one sacrifice.

Once and For All

In 1 Corinthians 7.23, we read, “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” The Lord’s Supper, then, becomes a proclamation of liberty. As we share the bread and wine, let’s personalize their meaning. They bought our freedom from manmade opinions and fears. They purchased our future as followers of Christ. And they secured our inheritance to God’s grace and acceptance. The cross made all of this possible, literally once and for all. The work is done. No one is excluded. No further comment or action is required. 

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