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COMMUNION MEDITATIONS: Passion Month


For April, I have written 4 communion meditations focused on the last week of Jesus’ life on earth:

  • Agony
  • Betrayed, Denied, and Forsaken
  • Crucifixion
  • Resurrection
Without trying to exhaust all events of the week, I close with a summary of the emotional roller-coaster ride his followers must have had that week that ended with his resurrection. I hope you will enjoy these, benefit from them, and use them to the glory of God.

Communion Meditation…              April 3, 2011

Agony

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” – Matthew 26:36

It is hard for me to imagine the agony of Jesus at this time.

He had tried to prepare his disciples for this hour, but they were clueless.

Now, alone, he goes to the Father for comfort – and for power to continue the road that led from Gethsemane to Gabbatha and on to Golgotha.

Even the three disciples of the “inner circle,” whom he asked to watch and pray while he went deeper into the Garden fell asleep – three times.

As he prayed, his midnight sweat was like drops of blood. Had an angel not come from heaven to strengthen him, could he have continued down that lonely road?

Yet, he looked beyond the cross to the crown. It was “for the joy that was set before him” that he “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2)

His faith and confidence in the Father’s promise was tested that night. The Father promised resurrection after his shameful death. Jesus extended this promise to the disciples as well. More than once, he told them he must die, but would rise again the third day.

Yet, the enemy was powerful. He held the whole world in his sway. Would God judge Jesus’ life as worthy? Or would bearing the sins of the world condemn him to an eternal death?

The verdict is in:

Jesus offered up prayers and supplica­tions, with loud cried and tears, to him who was able to save him from [out of, literal meaning] death, and he was heard because of his reverence. (Hebrews 5:7)

[Jesus] has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. (Hebrews 7:15)

How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)

He was the perfect lamb of God. God accepted His sin-offering because of his perfect life. He was delivered from death to be our deliverer! Hallelujah, and Amen!


Communion Meditation…            April 10, 2011

Betrayed, Denied, and Forsaken

And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. – Matthew 26:49

How much we need a Savior is illustrated in the life of Judas.

At the beginning of his gospel, John wrote, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11). Judas was closer than that; Judas was “a familiar friend” who lifted up his hand against his friend.

How faithless we humans are! How often do we betray our friends – even our families and closest, dearest ones. We betray our own better natures. We even betray God.

Yet, Jesus was always faithful.

Just as the Father was faithful to his covenant with the descendants of Abraham, Jesus was faithful – and is faithful – to us. Israel rebelled against God, but God remembered his covenant. The disciples – those nearest to Jesus – betrayed, denied, and forsook him, but he remained faithful to the end.

Peter, who denied him three times, was restored and preached the Pentecost sermon! Dare we say that even Judas could have continued as an apostle had he returned to Jesus instead of killing himself?

Judas shows us how much we need a Savior; Peter’s restoration shows us how great a Savior we have. As Paul put it in Titus 3:3-5,

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us…according to his own mercy….

We betrayed, denied, and forsook him. Yet, he saves us.

As the song says, “Hallelujah! What a Savior!”

How do we react to this love and great gift? Do we turn the gift aside and judge ourselves unworthy of it? Or do we joyfully follow him each day?

Communion Meditation…            April 17, 2011

Crucifixion

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. – Matthew 27:50

As they were nailing Jesus to the cross, he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

When he saw his mother standing by, he sent her away in the care of the disciple he loved whom he charged to care for her as a son. (John 19:25-27)

When the thief crucified with him asked him to remember him, Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-2)

Once, he asked for a drink for he was thirsty. They gave him sour wine (vinegar) to drink (John 19:28-29).

Perhaps the most poingant moment on the cross was near the end when he cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabacthani?” – which means, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Soon after this he gave a loud cry, perhaps the words of Luke 23:46, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”

Then he gave up his spirit and died.

He was on the cross for six hours. From noon on, the sun did not shine and darkness covered the land.

While the crowd around him jeered him or gambled for his clothing, the Son of God suffered for us – without railing against his tormentors. Indeed, he prayed for them.

In our day, we avoid “cruel and unusual punishment” for convicted criminals. We charge their keepers to take care not to abuse them in any way. Jesus had no such protection.

Why did he do it?

At the cross, he showed how much we need a Savior. He showed how much God (and he) love us. He showed us how horrible sin is. He also showed us the right way for right to triumph over worng. Are we listening?

Communion Meditation…            April 24, 2011

Resurrection

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen. – Matthew 28:5-6

The week began with such excitement and hope as they, with a large crowd of Passover celebrants, came with Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. They paved his way with their robes and palm branches, the symbol of Jewish independence. They cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

In the Temple he had been so masterful as he put his enemies to shame; those who thought they could trip him up with their foolish questions were silenced by his wise answers to the delight of the crowds.

They were certain he was about to act to free his people from the Roman oppression – and bring to reality the kingdom he had preached from one end of the land to the other.

In the Upper Room, as they kept the Passover feast, he had spoken mysteriously of going away and sending another Comforter to be with them. He had told Peter he would deny him three times that night and that all of the twelve would forsake him. He talked of returning to the Father.

This talk saddened them, but they did not really understand what he meant.

Then, in the Garden Judas, the trusted treasurer, came with the temple guards and priests to take him in the dead of the night. And everyone fled or followed at a distance.

Hung on the cross by mid-morning the next day, he had died near mid-afternoon. The women watched as two men, not part of their usual group, took the body and put it in a tomb nearby, hurridly because the Sabbath was drawing near.

They rested on the Sabbath, and went to the tomb to anoint his body early the first day of the week. There, the angel met them and said, “He is not here. He is risen.”

Those glad words terrified them even more. Things were going on they did not understand. But as the day wore on, He came to them – first to some of the women, then to Peter, next to all of the Eleven, as well as to two on the road to Emmaus.

At last, they realized. He is risen. Death could not hold him. He had overcome. And in his victory, they – and we –   have hope. Hallelujah! He is risen! Maranatha! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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