“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world” (1 John 4:9).
by Brad Bach
Memorial season tends to be unique for every consecrated Christian. Unique in the thoughts that are on our mind and unique in what we are appreciating and particularly thankful for, or areas in our walk that we feel need to be corrected and improved upon. We also reflect on important experiences or trials that have drawn us nearer to the Lord.
These unique meditations may result from examining specific verses of scripture in our personal study concerning the Lord’s Memorial, appreciating their meaning more deeply than before. Maybe we have been moved by some thoughts we heard presented in a discourse, or perhaps some Harvest Truth writings have touched our heart with perfectly worded insights into Jesus, his character and obedience and his willingness to lay down his life. Likely we’ve had personal experiences during the year that we are contemplating during this Memorial season that have given us a renewed, deepened appreciation of what Jesus has done, and is doing for us personally, as well as for the whole of mankind. We may see in these experiences unique lessons from the Lord designed to teach us more about ourselves as runners in this race, serving to strengthen our convictions in the faith once delivered unto the saints (1 Corinthians 9:24, Hebrews 12:1, Jude 1:3).
These reflections serve to our edification, helping prepare us for our future kingdom role of tenderly and sympathetically instructing the sin-sick of the world of mankind.
These meditations are wonderful! We always want to remain eager students, teachable, watching for lessons from our heavenly Father, and pleased to receive instructions from whatever sources He may be pleased to use. Whether these lessons come from the wisest of teachers among us, or whether they come by more humble means, the purpose of our lives at present is to learn God’s character and His operating principles. Our mission is to train our spiritual mind and become accustomed to applying those godly principles in all situations. We want His principles to become increasingly natural to us, indeed, as new creatures to become our very habit of thought. Through new experiences in life, combined with daily study in God’s Word, our heart’s desire is to realize growth of the indwelling holy Spirit of God, so that our thoughts and expressions as disciples in Christ will always be pleasing to our heavenly Father (John 14:16-17, 17:17-23, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 John 3:22). Jesus, the master teacher, instructed us and exemplified the exercise of these godly principles perfectly. He was always in perfect unity with his Father, and this he desires for us as well (John 17:17-23). So shall we have many things on which to meditate as we remember each year the final lessons and examples given by him who willingly “died for us while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8).
There are many time-honored, familiar lessons that we delight to reflect upon each year during Memorial season, including those Passover types established in Egypt so long ago by God as a demonstration of His incomparable wisdom and foreknowledge (1 Peter 1:18-20, Isaiah 46:9-10). God required the selection and killing of an unblemished male lamb of the first year, Then, by applying the lamb’s blood upon the doorposts and lintels of each Hebrew dwelling, every firstborn of the nation of Israel was afforded protection on the night that the “destroyer” passed through the land (Exodus 12:21-23). This passing over of the firstborn preceded the deliverance of the nation of Israel as a whole. These actions were typical, an illustration of the deliverance of the “church of the first born” being under the blood of Jesus, in advance of the deliverance of the world in general (Hebrews 12:23). It was 1,647 years after the Exodus that Jesus fulfilled the Passover types precisely, being himself the true “lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Also, we may think about the various scenes of those remarkable days: Peter and John sent ahead to make preparations in the upper room and the fellowship of the last Passover meal enjoyed by Jesus in company with his twelve apostles. There was Jesus’ poignant gesture of washing their feet, giving to them (and to us) an exquisite example of true humility and servant-mindedness, indeed an act of “preferring one another” (Romans 12:10). Then there was the confusion upon hearing that one of their own would betray Jesus. In self-examination each asked, “is it I?”
We think of Jesus interrupting the Passover meal. No longer would the blood and the eating of a typical Passover lamb be required, for the anti-typical true “lamb of God” was now to be slain in its place, an acceptable sacrifice presented once for all and ever to be repeated. (Hebrews.9:26, 1 Peter 3:18). Then, during the Passover supper, Jesus paused. He picked up some of the bread, then a cup containing the fruit of the vine. These were simple emblems that he would use to represent his impending death, emblems that the church would come to use in memory of what Jesus had done. These emblems were never meant to be taken as his literal flesh and blood as some later began to teach “transubstantiation,” nor were they yet another, higher type. These were purely emblematic of his own sacrificed life, laid down as a ransom price according to God’s justice in order to free Adam and his progeny from the power of the grave (1 Corinthians 15:21- 22,55, 1 Timothy 2:6, Hosea 13:14). Henceforth, consecrated believers in Jesus would partake of these emblems annually, as a memorial, a remembrance, as a way to honor Jesus’ death until they would together drink anew, then as a cup of joy in his kingdom (Matthew 26:29). Did the apostles grasp all this at the time? No, but they would come to understand the full significance at Pentecost when the holy Spirit would come upon them giving them spiritual comprehension of all that had transpired (John 14:26). However, there is another dimension to this Memorial supper.
With his apostles closely gathered, Jesus passed those emblems for each to partake. Soon they would come to appreciate that they could, by faith, ingest for themselves the ransom merit provided by Jesus. By passing the emblems to his disciples, Jesus extended an invitation to them to share with him in his sacrifice by laying their own lives down — not as a ransom, but as a footstep follower. This “new way” would be opened following the acceptance of his merit (Hebrews 10:20). Here would be an opportunity to lay down their lives, their little all, and to suffer with him in order that they might also reign with him, and to know the very “purpose” behind their “high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” to become agents of blessing to all the families of the earth. (Matthew 26:17-29, John 17:24, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, Romans 8:16-17,28, Galatians 3:8,16,29, Philippians 3:10-14). The entire New Testament testifies of the Christ (Anointed), a body with Jesus as the head and the Church as members of his body (Ephesians 5:23-32). We rejoice in this humble feast, first and foremost in memory of Jesus’ perfect ransom-sacrifice, his death which made everything possible, and secondarily, that by grace, God has extended an invitation to those that will, to become associated with Jesus in his sacrifice, and to reign with Jesus in his kingdom for those found to be “faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10). We gratefully, joyfully celebrate every year at the appointed time.
A Unique Meditation from the Year Past
Last Memorial season, following the service and partaking of the emblems, I did something unusual, unique to me. I watched the movie, The Passion of Christ. While neither promoting nor recommending it, the graphic depiction of Jesus’ final hours of life, his trial, and his death were moving. This depiction intensified my appreciation of what Jesus was willing to suffer and endure out of love for us. It enhanced my appreciation of Jesus’ unconditional willingness to carry out the will of his Father who had sent him (John 5:30; 6:38-44, 7:16, 12:44-50).
The narrative from Matthew 27:11-31 tells of the priest-motivated influence in demanding crucifixion, Pilate’s symbolic hand- washing following his declaration of Jesus’ innocence, and his release of the convict Barabbas. It describes the Roman soldiers’ mockery of Jesus in the Common Hall. There they placed a “crown of thorns,” on Jesus’ head and clothed him in a “purple robe” of royalty, feigning homage and saying “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck him with the “reed” given him for a scepter. We doubt not that the abject abuse dealt out to Jesus would have been as severe as depicted. Still wearing the “crown of thorns” and the “purple robe,” Jesus was brought before the crowd again. Pilate hoped to placate their blood-lust as he proclaimed, “Behold the man!”
“Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, ‘Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.’” “And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, ‘Behold your King!’ But they cried out, ‘Away with him, away with him, crucify him.’ Pilate saith unto them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar.’ Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus and led him away” (John 19:10-11, 14-16).
The cross! Now to this perfect man Jesus came such suffering. Moments of such overwhelming agony that those present could narrowly stand to look upon this man, this son, the one they so deeply loved, their hearts melting within them. And yet this cruelty, this unspeakable suffering would not be stayed by the hand of his Father. In fact, this would consummate the final proving of Jesus’ unconditional commitment to doing all the Father had given him to do. This alone would finalize his preparation. How do we know this to be true? The answer is found in scripture:
● Hebrews 10:7: “So I said to you, ‘God — I will be the One to go and do your will, to fulfill all that is written of me in your Word!’” (The Passion Translation).
● John 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (NAS).
● Matthew 26:39: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (KJV).
● John 18:11: “the cup which the Father has given me, shall I not drink it?” (NAS).
● Hebrews 5:4-9: “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (KJV).
Why such extreme suffering? Jesus, if faithful, was to be entrusted with immortality, a higher plane of existence than any being had yet been given by God. Indeed this was very characteristic of God himself — immortality — meaning impossible to die. Jesus had “learned obedience” (Hebrews 5:8). This word “learned,” Strong’s 3129, is expanded by both Thayer and Vine to include the idea of “practicing.” Thayer, “(c) to learn by use and practice, to be in the habit of, accustomed to.” Vine’s cites this same expanded definition in referencing the following scriptures: Philippians 4:11, 1 Timothy 5:4,13, Titus 3:14, Hebrews 5:8.
Jesus had “practiced” obedience throughout his entire existence, and now had proven his faithfulness unequivocally under the most difficult circumstances imaginable. But there was much more to it, “he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Mankind has gone far down the “broad way” of sin “that leadeth to destruction” (Matthew 7:13). Violence has occurred throughout so much of human history, and many have experienced unjust, violent, and horrible lives and deaths. In leading all of resurrected mankind to “eternal salvation” through the work of his kingdom, no one will say to Jesus, “but you have not suffered as I have suffered.” Never! The sufferings that Jesus endured put him in an incontestable position to author the salvation that leads men to eternal life, to all that will come to know him, to love him, and to obey him.
“For we have no superhuman high priest to whom our weaknesses are unintelligible-he himself has shared fully in all our experience of temptation, except that he never sinned” (Hebrews 4:15 Phillips).
When Jesus passed the cup to his disciples, he knew what lay before him. God planned and foresaw the “restoration of all” spoken of in Acts 3:19-21. God chose to develop a “church” (1 Corinthians 1:2), also known as a “body,” consisting of “many members” for the Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), also called a “bride” (John 3:29), and also known as a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). The purpose of this church is to supplement, by innumerable experiences with sin. In this way each of the dire experiences that mankind has experienced will have a complimentary, sympathetic priest that can stand beside them, to assist and encourage them, helping elevate them to perfect human stature and lending a helping hand up the highway to holiness (Isaiah 35:1-10).
All God’s plans serve the highest and best purpose and are necessary for our ultimate good or else it would not be done in this particular way. All that Jesus will accomplish, with his bride by his side, and under the guiding hand of the heavenly Father, will in due time fulfill that which has been promised, a complete “restoration” and “blessing of all the families of the earth.” Let us rejoice to commemorate Jesus’ death through the Memorial (Isaiah 55:7-13).
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).