Communion: The Intended Blessing

God’s heart or delight is to bless man so much with His goodness that we all turn to Him (repent) with a heart of thankfulness for having forgiven us of all our sins and begin to adore Him in worship for His holiness.

The first thing to recognize is that He is full of goodness to give! Unfortunately, many have a warped understanding of God: that He is looking down on us, waiting for us to slip up so that He can punish us in some way. This cannot be further from the truth.

The wonderful truth in the record shows that the punishment for our sin has already fallen on Jesus at the cross. He has already suffered in our place and paid the price for our salvation. The just claims of God have already met!

The way is now open for all mankind to receive God’s abundant forgiveness and blessing as His free gift to us…this is the good news that we spread.

‘With Fervent Desire’

Jesus made this remarkable statement when He celebrated what has been called the ‘Last Supper’ or Passover on earth with His disciples:

Luke 22:14-15
14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; …

He had celebrated at least two other Passover meals with them before, but His focus and fervent desire had all along been on this one. He knew He was about to suffer for them and us at the cross, and knew that His substitutionary sacrifice would open the way into the Father’s presence in a brand new way never experienced before.

He was fulfilling prophecy before their eyes, and was totally committed to establishing a permanent relationship with His disciples. His death would lead to their life for eternity and His desire for this was rooted in all consuming love. He ‘burned’ to consummate His life’s work with the greatest act of love ever, and so He sat with them and shared these moments of intimacy just before His betrayal.
The disciples had only to receive what He was to about to do. At this point none of them comprehended the magnitude of God’s love about to be poured out on them, yet He pursued them nevertheless. This is the heart of God: He pursues, we eventually respond.

God’s goodness must be received, for He will not force His will on anyone. The following scriptures highlight God’s goodness towards us.

Psalm 86:15
15 But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.

John 1:12
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

Romans 2:3-4
4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

Romans 5:16-17
17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:9
9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

1 John 4:9
9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

Each scripture describes some benefit that we enjoy because of God’s love for us.
God’s nature and will are perfectly made manifest to us in the person and work of Jesus. Jesus said that if you have seen Him, you have seen the Father (John 14:9). At the Last Supper When He blessed the bread, broke it and then gave it to His disciples, He was in essence giving Himself to them. His heart’s intent was to bless them through this covenant meal.

This was not the time for discipline or even self-examination. He had just washed their feet in an act of supreme self sacrifice. They were cleansed by what He had done for them, and not by what they had done or even were later to do for Him. Grace (God’s unmerited favor) was abounding towards them, and all they had to do was to sit and receive it.

A Celebration Of Blessing

Celebrate : ‘To move in a circle, reel to and fro, dance’

The Lord’s Supper has always been and ought still to be a celebration of His goodness and mercy, where the focus is on His grace and not on self introspection. When Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians the correction he brought was in response to gross error and selfishness in that church at that time. To rightly divide the Word today his words of correction, as they apply to the Lord’s Supper, ought not to be the standard for the church today every time it is celebrated. I will share more on this matter in a later chapter.

God has created us for close fellowship with Him, and thankfully His blood alone has paid the price for this. No amount of human effort, repentance or even self examination brings us closer than we already are through His blood.

Ephesians 1:7-8
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,

The redemption and forgiveness we enjoy is according to the ‘riches of His grace’ and not according to the depth of our repentance, our sorrow or even our religious efforts to in some way prove to God we are worthy to receive His blessing. An ‘unnatural and religious’ fear of God may seem appropriate to some, but is rooted in self effort (works) and not in the completed work or grace of Christ.
Neither is our intimacy with God guaranteed simply because we are familiar with a particular way of celebrating The Lord’s Supper. In fact familiarity and ritual can sometimes stand in the way of intimacy. Expectant faith is always the essential ingredient of a vital relationship with God through Jesus (Hebrews 11:6).

God’s intended blessing through the Lord’s Supper is freely given and must be freely received with thanksgiving. His kingdom rule is marked by righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17), where joy is that deep sense of well being that is the fruit of an abiding trust in what the Lord has already done for us. Kingdom joy is represented by the wine of the Lord’s Supper.
God is a joyful happy God who enjoys celebrating! Sadly many have a picture of God as still angry with mankind despite the fact that His just anger was poured out and exhausted on Christ at the cross!
In addition God has often put a celebratory stamp on His dealings with us. For example, the Day of Pentecost in the New Testament speaks of an outbreak of joyful abandon as the Holy Spirit was poured out on receptive and yielded disciples. This was no somber religious moment; rather a time where so much blessing flowed into and through their hearts that the onlookers thought the disciples were ‘drunk’ (Acts 2:12-21)! It was in fact totally different to the first Pentecost at Mt Sinai, fifty days after the first Passover in the Wilderness when the Israelites received the Law. That fateful day three thousand died, whereas Pentecost in the New Testament saw three thousand come to the Lord in joyful salvation! Whereas the letter (of the Law) kills, the Spirit now gives life!

This ought to be the focus of our celebration.

The ‘new wine’ of God’s freedom in Christ still perplexes many. Even Jesus’ first miracle where He turned water into wine at a wedding feast shows that God is in fact pro joyful celebrations. He is not sour but sweet. Who are we to turn The Lord’s Supper into a time where we focus on our shortcomings instead of His majesty and perfection? When we focus on our imperfections we take the focus off the very one who is willing and able to change us from glory to glory.

Moreover, the ‘cup’ of communion is described as the ‘cup of blessing’ (1 Corinthians 10:16). It is not a cup of cursing, but a cup that signifies an overflowing, ‘more than enough’ blessing. Let us therefore purpose to open our hearts to God’s intended blessing through The Lord’s Supper, something that can be enjoyed both at home and ‘in church’.

 

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