Reflecting on Jesus’ sacrifice
“This do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).
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With solemn joy, in smaller and larger groups (or perhaps alone) we shall gather on the evening of Sunday, April 9, 2017, to observe — in obedience to him who did institute and command it — the Lord’s Supper. For some, the years of our pilgrimage have been many and hard, but again we draw nigh to the hallowed place in our Christian experience, once again to keep the Feast.
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink from it, all of you” (Matthew 26:26, 27 NAS).
“This is the hour of banquet and of song; From this, Thy table, let each shadow flee; Here let me feast, and feasting still prolong The brief bright hour of fellowship with Thee.” (From the hymn Hear, O My Lord, I see Thee Face to Face, by Horatius Bonar, 1855)
“This Do in Remembrance of Me.”
We will indeed commemorate your costly redemptive sacrifice. For we remember the riches of your pre—human existence, the glory which was yours with the Father before the world was (John 17:5). You were the firstborn of all creation, the beginning of the creation of God, and were as one brought up with him, daily his delight, rejoicing always before him. For He possessed you in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. You were set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before the earth was. All things were made by you, and without you was not anything made that was made. When the foundations of the earth were laid, you did hear the morning stars sing together and all the sons of God shout for joy (Proverbs 8, John 1)!
Yea, Lord, we do remember that in the fullness of time, in obedience to your Father, you laid aside your glory, and were born of a woman — made flesh. You became poor for our sakes (2 Corinthians 8:9). We remember the circumstances of your birth — you were laid in a manger because there was no room for you in the inn (Luke 2:7). You entered into the world you made, but the world never knew you. You made yourself of no reputation and took upon yourself the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7). Did they not call you a carpenter — you, the master workman of the universe (Mark 6:3)? Yes, the foxes had holes, and the birds had nests, but you had no place to lay your head (Matthew 8:20). You came to your own, but your own refused you (John 1:11). You were despised, rejected, and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). How often you, in your great love, would have gathered the people of Israel as a hen gathers her chicks, but they would not have it (Matthew 23:37). Yet you had compassion on the multitude as a shepherd tending his sheep. O Savior, we do remember all this and more!
We remember how you went about doing good, and manifesting your glory. The blind received their sight, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard, the dead were raised, the multitudes were fed, and the Gospel was preached to the poor. Bartimaeus, Jairus, the widow of Nain, Martha, Mary, Lazarus and many others — all partook of your grace. Did ever man speak as you? Did not all bear witness and wonder at your gracious words?
Words of spirit and life, words which the Father did give unto you, wonderful words of life!
We remember, Lord, as the last hour drew near, how you steadfastly set your face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). The cup, which the Father had given you, you would drink to the full!
“O holy Lamb of God! Must Thou to slaughter go?
And on Thy sinless shoulders bear Our heritage of woe?
Must Thou endure our grief?
Our stripes be laid on Thee?
The sins of many must Thou take, And thus our ransom be?”
— From The Logos by Thomas Hill (1882)
As the shadows lengthened, you earnestly desired to eat the last meal with them before your suffering (Luke 22:15 NASB). While your soul was full of sublime purpose, in pained silence you heard their words of selfish strife, wounding your spirit. Sublime was your example of humble servitude, as kneeling before each one you washed their feet. You loved them to the end. For them, you prayed to your Father, and not only for them but for us also who have believed on you through their word (John 17).
We remember, dear Lord, as the awful hour of deepest humiliation arrived, that in your agony of spirit you sought the garden spot. O that they could have watched with you one hour (Matthew 26:40).
“Gethsemane, thine olive grove
A welcome screen for Jesus wove,
To veil his agony!
Oh, when, thou lone and hallowed spot,
Can be by friend or foe forgot,
Thy midnight mystery?
“Gethsemane, thy name is graved
Deep on the hearts of all the saved,
And cannot be erased;
For, till eternity shall end,
Oh, who in full can comprehend
The scene in thee embraced?
“Draw near, my heart, and gaze anew,
Where Jesus on that night withdrew,
To bear the load for thee;
Come read the love that in him wrought,
Come linger long in tender thought,
In lone Gethsemane.” — Gethsemane
Dear Lord, we follow you this night in our meditation. We remember your betrayal. We remember the traitorous kiss, the armed band, and the fleeing disciples. To face the powers of darkness you were left alone, and yet not alone, for your Father was with you. But from this hour He did not save you, since for this cause came you unto this hour. You were bound as a criminal and led before men of evil. Can we forget the scenes of indignity and horror? How men smote you, mocked you, spat upon you, scourged you and then condemned you to be crucified!
“I see my Lord, the pure, the meek, the lowly, Along the mournful way in sadness tread; The thorns are on His brow, and He, the holy, Bearing His cross, to Calvary is led, “Silent He moveth on, all uncomplaining, Though wearily His grief and burden press; And foes-nor shame nor pity now restraining — With scoff and jeering mock His deep distress. “‘ ’Tis death’s dark hour; yet calm Himself resigning, E’en as a lamb that goeth to be slain, The wine-press lone He treadeth, unrepining, And falling blood-drops all His raiment stain.”
We remember, precious Lord, though we little understand, the night when, by the grace of God, you tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9). You suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18). You have ascended on high and have led captivity captive: you have received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them (Ephesians 4:8).
We remember that we who were dead in trespasses and sins have been made rich by your sacrifice. We have received forgiveness of sins, peace, life, sonship, joy, love, the hope of immortality. You have become to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and deliverance.
We are heirs of God and joint-heirs with you; if so be that we suffer with you, we may be also glorified together — to be kings and priests for a thousand years, to bless all the families of earth (Revelation 5:10).
Lord Jesus, our cup runneth over; our hearts overflow with gratitude! Our souls do magnify you, and our spirits rejoice in God our Savior (1 Timothy 1:1). Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Gladly, dear Master, do we gather about your table to remember you: to bless the cup, and to break the bread, the communion of thy blood and thy body.
And so will we keep the Feast until that day when we shall drink new the cup with thee in the Kingdom of God!