Remembering Jesus, the Redeemer
© November 15th, 2020 C. O. Bishop
1st Corinthians 11:23-26; 1st Peter 1:18-25; (Cp. Genesis 1:1; Hebrews 11:3; John 1:1, 14)
We are taking communion today: Because we make a practice of sharing communion every month, on the third Sunday, it ought to be very easy for me to remember, but since the first Sunday of this month also happened to be the first day of the month, it feels as though the month has hardly begun, yet, here we are at the third Sunday. If Ann had not reminded me, I would have simply forgotten again. I’m grateful that she always remembers.
We have been studying through 1st Peter, and the message I had prepared for this morning was really too long to share the time with the Communion service. Besides, we have been studying about some pretty special things regarding Jesus our Redeemer and our new relationship with Him, so, since Communion is all about remembering Jesus’s sacrifice for us, it seems appropriate that we re-focus on some of the things right here in 1st Peter, that ought to be remembered, as well as looking back to the Beginning, since we are also learning some pretty precious things about Jesus in Genesis, in the Wednesday night Bible study.
1st Peter 1:18-25 Remembering The Redeemer
This is pretty recent, in our studies, so we ought to find it easy to remember: we talked about the fact that there are three words in the New Testament, used to describe our redemption:
- Agorazo, (bought in the marketplace)
- Exagorazo (bought out of the marketplace)
- Lutroō (bought with the purpose of being set free.)
The whole of what we know about the concept of redemption is in the compilation of those three words: We were bought by Jesus, in the “agora”…the marketplace of sin. We were bought out of that marketplace, (exagorazo) never to be returned, and He bought us with the intent to set us free, forever. We know those things, according to 1st Peter 1:18…and more specifically, He says we know the price that was paid:
The Price of Redemption
He says in verse 19 that we were not redeemed with Gold or Silver or anything else of corruptible, temporal value: We were redeemed (bought out of the marketplace of sin, never to be returned there, and specifically to be set free) by the price of Jesus’s death at the Cross: by His sinless blood being deliberately shed on our behalf. (“By His stripes we are healed!”) By His death, we have been set free forever.
The Plan of Redemption
We saw, too, that before the foundation of the Earth, Jesus was “Plan A,” and that there was no “Plan B.” He was God’s only provision for the salvation of sinners, and the provision was made before there were sinners to save!
The Path of Redemption
In John 14:6, Jesus told the disciples, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; No man cometh unto the Father but by me!” Here in 1st Peter 1:21, we see that he is way we approach God: It says, that “by Him we believe in God.” It is not just a conceptual question: anyone can “believe in God:” James pointed out that the demons also “believe, and tremble!” But that sort of belief doesn’t help anyone. Believing in God through the Person of Jesus is our means to approach God.
Adam heard the very slender promise of Hope in the promise of the coming Savior, the “Seed of the Woman,” in Genesis 3:15, and he believed that promise. He stated his faith in that coming Savior by naming his wife Eve,” the “Mother of all the Living.” And God accepted His faith, and Eve’s along with him, and clothed them in the skins of animals, making the first blood sacrifice, prefiguring the Sacrifice of Jesus, at the Cross, some 4,000 years later.
That approach, through the Blood of the Chosen Sacrifice, has been the only approach, ever since. The Passover Lamb, looked forward to the Cross. Consider the motions needed to fulfill the command regarding the blood at the Passover: They were to dip the bundle of Hyssop (a weedy shrub that grows in that area) in the basin of blood from the freshly slain lamb, and strike it on the lintel and the two doorposts of the home. Run through those motions in your mind, and see that you are necessarily making a cross in the air, of the literal blood of the lamb! Those believers, 1500 years before Christ, were huddled under the same Blood of the Cross as we share today!
So, these Jewish believers, to whom Peter addressed this letter, had celebrated the Passover every year of their lives, and, at the day of Pentecost had finally come to know the Lamb personally, and, through Him, finally were able to approach God freely. Some had been Old Testament believers, but had known their limitations: no one but the High Priest could ever enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple, and draw near to God. Now, through Jesus, and the Redemption He made at the Cross, they were able to walk right into the presence of God …just as we are! They had always believed in God at one level or another: but now they believed in Him by means of Jesus!
The Power of Redemption
Finally, in verse 23, we see that they (and we) are born again, not of any fleshly, or biological process, but specifically, by the Word of God. Let’s give that some thought:
Over in Hebrews 11:3, we can see that the World was created by the Word of God. If we compare Genesis 1:1 and all that follows it, we can see that God literally “spoke the World into existence.” But if we look at John 1:1 and following, we see another facet to this truth: It says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God!” If we find that puzzling, we can keep reading: when we arrive at verse 14, we will see that it says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His Glory, the Glory as of the only Begotten of the Father,) full of Grace and Truth.” In short, we can see for sure that “the Word” was Jesus, in Person! And He was not only with God, but actually was God, so that as Jesus the Messiah, walking the roads of Israel, He was literally, “God, in the Flesh!” (That is what “Incarnate” means, by the way: “in the flesh.”) Finally, when we turn to Hebrews 1:10,we see God the Father, speaking to God the Son, saying “And, Thou, Lord, in the Beginning, didst lay the foundations of the Earth, and the Heavens are the Works of thine hands.”
Jesus is the Word! And He is the Creator! So, when Adam and Eve were dealing with the kind, but stern Creator in the Garden, it was Jesus! Later on, in Genesis 18, we see Him identified as the Judge of all the Earth! And Jesus confirmed that, in John 5:22, 23, saying, “For the Father judgeth no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all men may honor the Son even as they honor the Father.
So, when it says in Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed God, and He (God) counted it unto him (Abraham) as Righteousness,” we can see that Abraham believed the promise of Jesus, just as Adam had done, and was declared righteous (justified) on the basis of his faith.
Jesus made the promise to us and all who will ever live, that if we place our trust in Him, we have eternal life now, not waiting until we die to find out whether we “made the cut.” John 5:24 says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my Word and believeth on Him who sent me, hath everlasting life and shall not come unto condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.” And He wants us to know it: In 1st John 5:11-13, he says “And this is the record, that God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in His Son, He that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of god, that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (Emphasis mine… )
Finally, in Romans 1:16, we read, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto Salvation to everyone that believeth…” There is nothing else in the scripture, defined as being the Power of God unto salvation. The Good news (That’s what “Gospel” means) about Jesus, the Living Word of God, is called the Power of God to save those who believe in Him.
So, do you see why it is important that we take time to “Remember the Redeemer?” He has given us eternal life by His Blood: When the Jews celebrated Passover, they looked back to their own redemption from physical death, the night before they left Egypt forever. And, unknowingly, they looked forward to the Cross, where their sins would be “taken away forever,” instead of only “covered,” which is all the animal sacrifices could ever accomplish. John 1:29 says, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the World!” They looked back to the original Passover, and looked forward to the Cross: When we celebrate Communion, we look back to the Cross, and look forward to His return.
Looking Back, to the Cross
When we look back and remember the Cross, we share in a tiny memorial feast called “Communion,” or “The Lord’s Supper,” or, sometimes, “The Lord’s Table.” We believe His Word, as did Adam, and Abraham, and the disciples, and the people at the day of Pentecost, and every believer since then: we trust in His promise of eternal life, though we scarcely understand all that it entails.
We first read of the Lord’s Supper in the Gospels, and again, as the only directive to the church regarding the celebration of communion, in 1st Corinthians 11:23-28. (Read it)
Here we see that there is a practice to be followed in all churches worldwide, as a memorial we have in common. The scripture in this passage simply says “the cup” with no mention of the contents, only stating that it represented His Blood. The bread is also somewhat non-specific, as the staple food varies all over the world, and this feast will fit in any society on earth. In Papua New Guinea, we are told by the missionaries we support, there are no grapes: water is the liquid in the cup. There is also no bread. The staple food there is sweet potato. So, water and sweet potato are the elements of communion among the believers, there in Papua New Guinea. Here, there is a narrower choice. Some insist upon using wine, as that truly was the staple drink in the land of Israel at that time; but it is not the standard drink, here, and there are many who are trying to escape a past addiction to alcohol. So we have chosen to offer grape juice as the contents of the cup, and some sort of unleavened cracker as the Bread. The elements themselves are not terribly important: the meaning behind them is very important, as is our attitude toward the Lord’s Table: The believers in Corinth had taken communion lightly, and flippantly, and took it in combination with some sort of community feast, such as we might call a “pot-luck.” But, if we read the whole context, starting in verse 17, we can see that they weren’t even sharing the food at the “pot-luck.” Communion means “Sharing” or “Fellowship… Having in common.” How could you take the very thing that expresses our commonality in Christ and make it into a show of “who has food and who doesn’t?” So they were being judged for their unworthy behavior.
The scripture warns against taking the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner: it has nothing to do with the person being unworthy, nor even of having unconfessed sin in one’s life (though it is certainly a good time to reflect on that as well.) The warning is against an unworthy approach to God’s memorial feast: perhaps a manner by which God is dishonored, or by which fellowship is denied, rather than strengthened. We approach the Lord’s Supper in reverence, “Remembering the Redeemer” and all He has done. We approach in Unity, knowing that the ground is truly level at the foot of the Cross. We approach in Love, truly desiring God’s best for one another. The scripture says, that, having examined ourselves and our motives, we are to go ahead and eat. It says, “So let him eat!” So we will share together in the Lord’s Supper now.
Final Hymn and Prayer