The Best and Worst of Times
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Communion Services in many churches tend to have lower attendance then regular services. This is not true in all churches, but in many churches I have been to and worked with, it seems to be the one day the members decide to visit another church or feel like staying home.
I guess some are uncomfortable about washing someone else's feet. I get it, I mean, none of the disciples wanted to do it.
But I believe the reason is deeper than just wanting to avoid the footwashing.
I believe it is connected with wanting to avoid judgment.
We can trace the origin of the New Testament Communion Service all the way back to the Old Testament Passover. Exodus 12:26-27 says that when the children ask about the Passover that the parents are to tell them about how God delivered them from Egypt and how the LORD passed over the houses those who had the blood of the lamb on their doorposts.
The Passover ceremony was to, among other things, keep fresh in the mind of the people how God had delivered them.
Jesus died on the cross as the ultimate Passover lamb, and before He died He changed the Passover, He replaced it with what we have come to call the Communion Service.
Jesus would die as the Lamb of God and therefore people would no longer have to sacrifice a lamb. Just like the lamb symbolized the Messiah who would one day come, Jesus also left us symbols to remind us of what He did for us until He comes again.
Matthew 26:26-30New King James Version (NKJV)
Jesus Institutes the Lord’s Supper
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
The lamb symbolized Jesus, innocent and without blemish.
Now Jesus set up the bread and the pure grape juice to represent His body which was broken for us and His blood which was shed for the remission (forgiveness) of sins.
John 13 tells us the story of how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples.
John 13:12-17New King James Version (NKJV)
So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
There is a special blessing in following Jesus' example and washing each other's feet. Yes it is humbling, and if we have a problem with humbling ourselves, that is a problem. Pride is something that needs to be surrendered to God and communion, especially the foot washing ceremony, makes us confront our pride.
Think of this as a mini re-baptism. Jesus told Peter that those who are bathed need only to wash their feet (John 13:9). Though communion does not replace baptism, those of us who have been baptized do not need to be re-baptized every time we fall short of what God calls us to do, communion has been established for that purpose among others.
1 Corinthians 11:27-32New King James Version (NKJV)
Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
Jesus died on the cross so we would not have to.
Jesus established communion so that we will be reminded of what He did for us.
Should anyone not participate in communion?
Only if you are unrepentant. Only if you plan on holding on to your sin. If you have no intentions of letting go of your sin, and you take communion, you are making light of Jesus' death on the cross. In that situation Communion then becomes judgment, it causes you to harden your heart against the influence of the Holy Spirit, and that should not be taken lightly. If the death of Jesus on the cross for your sins does not cause you to want to give up your sins, then you should not participate in the communion service. But I hope that no one is ever willing to pass this opportunity to receive forgiveness for their sins and salvation.
Examine yourself, judge yourself, humble yourself.
Receive the salvation and forgiveness that God makes available to you through Jesus.
Can you imagine yourself explaining to Jesus why you don’t want to participate in communion?
I would love to wholeheartedly follow you LORD, but you see the thing is…
Here is an opportunity for us to renew our vows to God, to confess any sins we have been hiding and excusing.
An opportunity to have a fresh start, to set things straight.
Communion is an opportunity to tell Jesus we do want to spend eternity with Him and that His sacrifice was not in vain.
Here is an opportunity to once again invite Jesus in to be our Lord and Savior, to surrender anew to Him.
I know there are issues we need to confess. How about you take this opportunity to pray to God in the name of Jesus and confess your sins?
Pray and confess, humble yourself before God and receive His salvation.
Stop postponing it, stop excusing sin, stop saying that tomorrow you will set things straight.
If you have not yet been baptized, stop pushing the decision further down the road.
1 John 1:9New King James Version (NKJV)
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
There is no reason for you to remain guilty. Forgiveness is a prayer away. If you are not ready but you want to be, ask God to put it in your heart.
Philippians 2:13New King James Version (NKJV)
For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Finally, today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts (Hebrews 3:15)