As the pastor was closing out the sermon this morning and preparing to lead us in Communion, he told how he once called a wise man of God and asked what he thought Jesus meant in Gethsemane.
Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Matthew 26:38-39, 42 (ESV)
The man said that he thought Jesus was referring to taking on sin, even to become sin. For the sinless Son of God, taking on sin was such a terrible thought that He was sorrowful, even to death, and pleaded with His Father for a way out. Thank God there was no other way, and He drank that cup and drank it for me.
Sin or Righteousness
Peter and Paul may not have agreed on everything, but on this they agree: Christ Jesus bore our sin on the cross, and did so to remove sin from our lives and replace it with the righteousness of God.
Paul: He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NASB)
Peter: and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24 (NASB)
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
I did a quick calculation of how many times I’ve been to Communion services in my life so far, based on the frequency each church I’ve attended did it and how long I was at that church. It comes out to more than 375 times. Although there are some differences in the form, there’s one thing that’s very consistent in Protestant observance of the Lord’s Supper, and that is the reading of this account:
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he 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 the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Luke 22:19-20 (ESV)
Yes, during my lifetime I have heard some form of the words Jesus said to His disciples that night no less than 375 times. Repetition is a great way to learn. It’s little wonder that as I held the cracker in my hand this morning, I kept repeating in my mind, “This is my body.” I know these words, because I’ve heard these words again and again. It struck me, though, that I somehow still manage to forget them, or at least forget what they really mean.
Every time I say, “I should do this,” and I do not do it, I am have forgotten. Every time I say, “I shouldn’t do this,” and I do it, I have forgotten. “But to him who knoweth good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” When I let it go as “no big deal,” I have forgotten that it was big enough to put my Savior on a cross. I have forgotten that it was such a big deal that Christ sweat blood in agony over the thought of bearing it for me. I have forgotten that it was such a big deal that His body was broken for it. I have forgotten that it was such a big deal that His blood was shed for it. I have grown complacent. I have grown lukewarm.
So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. Revelation 3:16 (HCSB)
If you look at several translations, they say spit, vomit or spew (confession: spew is my favorite, better yet is “spue” from the older translations). I picked one that expresses this more strongly than “spit” because, let’s be honest, I don’t think God’s saying, “I’m going to discreetly remove you from my mouth into a napkin.” I personally think there are more unpleasant sensations than lukewarm food or drink. I mean, sure, In-N-Out fries go from amazing to kind of weird when they cool down to room temperature, but that won’t make me spit them out, let alone spew! Spew is reserved for something a little bit more revolting. Think of the worst thing you’ve ever tasted, something that may have literally made you gag. I think that’s more like what a lukewarm Christian is to God.
It’s little wonder God spews out the lukewarm. What’s more disgusting than forgetting what His Son did for us and counting the very thing that put Him on the cross as “no big deal,” or even denying that it’s sin at all?
I don’t think we have to be told how to forget. We have to be told how to remember. The good news is Jesus already told us how. “Do this in remembrance of me.”