Communion: Memorial of the Cross
© 2020 C. O. Bishop
We often hear people preach sermons around “occasions:” holidays, news items, political trends or social happenings. As a rule, I simply don’t do that. We shepherds are instructed to “feed the flock,” and the flock, in turn, is instructed “…as newborn babes, desire the sincere Milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby.” That doesn’t leave a lot of room for interpretation: it tells me that, if I am going to feed God’s Flock, I have to feed them the Word of God. And the Bible doesn’t say anything about American holidays, or whatever is happening on the news…sorry. However, it does say something about memorials!
We see in Exodus 3:15 that the very Name of God, the Great “I AM,” is to be seen as a memorial to all generations. In the New Testament, we discover that Jesus is that “Great I Am.” And we live our lives to honor Him.
In Exodus 12:14 in regards to the Passover, the fact that we are redeemed by the shedding of blood is called a memorial, which we see today as a picture of the Cross. The people of Israel were to remember that the Blood of the Lamb, on the lintel and the two door posts, was the only thing that stood between them and the wrath of God.
In Exodus 17:14, Moses was commanded to write down the account of the battle with the Amalekites, where God had intervened as Moses held up the staff of God, and Aaron and Hur had held up the hands of Moses before the Lord. That book was to be a memorial to God’s faithfulness and the efficacy of prayer, holding one another up before the Lord.
There were many other memorials: stone monuments, never to be removed, and written portions of God’s Word, to be carried with the believers at all times, to remind them of who they were, and whom they served.
Finally, in the New Testament, we have a commemorative feast. We celebrate the Lord’s Table as a memorial to the Cross. Passover looked back to the Exodus, and forward to the Cross. The Lord’s Table looks back to the Cross and forward to the Return of the Lord. When we take communion we each, individually, are confessing that Jesus shed His blood for our sins, personally. We confess that our sins, personally, are what necessitated the Cross. We look back to the crucifixion as our only hope of salvation, remembering that the Blood of the Lamb at the Cross of Calvary is the only thing standing between us and the Wrath of God. And we joyfully look forward to the Second Coming as our Blessed Hope.
Man’s memorials are made to fail. We put up monuments, only to have a later generation tear them down. We write laws, only to have a later authority repeal those laws. We remember our war-dead, and are grateful for their service, but we know that they are easily forgotten in the heat of whatever current upheaval is threatening our peace of mind. And graveyards inevitably fall into disrepair and are forgotten: the headstones go missing, or are damaged, and the land is overgrown, with the graves eventually covered over by progress…pavement, in many cases.
I am thankful that God does not forget. Malachi 3:16 says “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name.” God wants us to remember Him, to fellowship with one another in His service, by reaching out to a lost world, and by sharing together in Worship, meditating on the character implied in the name of the Savior. And He remembers us for doing so. This is a memorial that will never be forgotten. In Hebrews 6:10, it says that “God is not unrighteous, to forget your work and your labor of love.” He remembers!
As we take communion together, please bear in mind that God remembers: He sees our hearts, and He knows whether we are here to remember Jesus, looking forward to His coming, or just going through the motions. As we remember our war dead, and the others we have lost to death, let’s give special attention to the one who unquestionably died in our place, and honor Him: not only in the communion service, and in other church services, but in our lives, every day, as a form of the worship that is rightfully His alone.
In 1st Corinthians 11:23-26 we see the purpose of the Lord’s Table set out: it is to “do this in remembrance” of Jesus; specifically, declaring His death, burial and resurrection, and His soon return. It actually only states the death and second coming, but they dictate the necessity of the burial and resurrection. In 1st Corinthians 15:3, 4 we see that those three components, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ are all specifically fulfilling prophecy (God remembers!)
So we are called to remember as well: to remember in reverence and sincerity, not flippantly, or simply in a formalistic ritual. This is a real memorial!
(Communion service immediately followed.)