Largest religious gathering in the world ended a couple weeks ago in India:
For up to 80 million pilgrims—think 10 New York Cities—a Hindu festival, Kumbh Mela, that takes place on the banks of the Ganges River in Allahabad, India, is a chance to wash away their sins under ideal astrological conditions. Hindus say that dipping in these waters during the festival when the sun and Jupiter are in auspicious alignment (from 01/14 to 03/10), will free them from the cycle of reincarnation. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323701904578275961736436782.html
A Muslims’s salvation depends largely upon submission to Allah and personal observance of the 5 Pillars of the Faith: confession of faith, prayer 5x daily, giving alms, fasting during Ramadan, pilgrimage to Mecca.
Buddhism supplies 4 noble truths and an 8-fold path of purification as aids to arriving at nirvana – freedom from suffering, liberation from the cycle of life and death.
The atheist denies any need for salvation or liberation or redemption because life stinks and then you die. Period. End of existence. End of story.
You might think it took a while for man to invent means of salvation other than what God intended. Think again! Adam and Eve tried to rely on their own fashion design and tailoring ability rather than seeking out God’s solution for their sin. Since then, man has relentlessly manufactured and pursued his own methods to achieve eternal bliss apart from God. But God refuses to accept these attempts; unswervingly committed to his plan of redemption, established even before creation.
We tend to think of redemption in terms of salvation from sin, from torments of hell. And, of course, salvation for good works (Eph. 2:10) and to eternal life. But what are we really talking about here? What will be saved? Our souls? Our bodies? Both? Why is that important on this night, when we remember “the night in which he was betrayed”? It’s important because God has never viewed death as the end; true whether considering death of his Son or that of mere mortals.
Both Old Testament instruction and Jesus personal teaching to his followers: always kept going beyond death, included details about what would follow Lord Jesus’ suffering and death. True also about Lord’s Supper – focus is on Jesus death, but not exclusively so: final words of our text, “till he comes”.
A. his death is essential
a great prophet is not enough
many prophets throughout history; Moses even told of God’s promise to “raise up for them a Prophet like [Moses] from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.” (Deut. 18:18) Muslims accept that.
a perfect example is not enough
Bible full of exemplary people, both good to follow and some shouldn’t even consider it; apostle Peter reminds that “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21, ESV) Sparked In His Steps and WWJD bracelets; Buddhists and JW’s accept that.
a suitable sacrifice is required
even if heed words of prophet – know what we are to believe, follow model of perfect example, still have problem. Not just what we do, it’s who we are: unforgiven rebels. And it’s God who has decided what he will accept as satisfaction for sin – sacrifice of his Son
B. his death will be efficacious
no point in remembering if it has no effect
if only great prophet, if only perfect example, then death only that of a martyr – framed by evil men, unjustly condemned and executed. Too bad for him, no good for us
even less point in proclaiming
birth and particular life details of religious leaders remembered and celebrated; if occasion of death is remembered, almost always with sorrow / grief over their passing. If we do remember “the day the music died”, stirs reflection on what was lost not what was accomplished.
have assurance that Jesus’ death would accomplish its purpose
“To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43) Want more reassurance? “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.” (Acts 10:44)
when he comes it will have accomplished its full intent
look more at this aspect on Sunday morning. Yes, accomplished forgiveness of sin, but intended to achieve redemption of bodies as well, even rest of created order. All comes to conclusion at his return.
C. there will be a Church to remember it
if the church is to proclaim it “till he comes”, there will be a church until then
confirmation of promise – “on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18) Greatest spiritual forces known to man apart from God unable to overcome church of the Lord Jesus. He has had and will have a church in all ages.
D. Christians need it
continual reminder of dependence
bodies are dependent on bread for life; same way, dependent on Lord Jesus for spiritual life and strength
continual reminder of grace
partaking of elements, remembering historical event, ask question: what did I do to bring this about?? Answer: Nothing. All of grace, no room for anyone other than Jesus to take credit.
continual reminder of forgiveness
proper remembering keeps us humble – right understanding of who we are in God’s eyes: children, yes, but not yet perfect, with ongoing need of forgiveness
continual reminder of its reality
world views Lord’s Table and what it represents as foolishness, maybe not even based on good history; each time believer partakes, declares: I believe the Lord Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sin for me and my brothers and sisters.
E. the world needs it
most important message unconverted can hear – message of the cross
best world can offer deals with here and now, much of the time not well – lies and empty promises that cannot extend to eternity
only message of the cross that offers help and hope regardless of your present, a hope not limited to present – one on whom that hope rests is alive and will return
seems to be paradox: message of death and defeat that promises life and a future
one who has experienced death and also conquered it, the Lord Jesus; has both power and authority to grant life to all who come to him by faith
gift of life also comes with: a future, it’s eternal life; an inheritance, riches in glory from which he supplies our need; a family, heavenly Father and many brethren
“There will never come a day when the world will not need to have the Crucified Christ set before it. There will never be an hour in which there will not be breaking hearts that need consolation, wandering souls that need reclaiming and others who are seeking self-salvation, who will need to be taught that salvation lies in Another—and is to be found only in the bleeding Lamb of Calvary.” Spurgeon
F. only done during His absence
“I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matt. 26:29)
here also an indication that, as Passover celebration was temporary, so Lord’s Table only observed for a time – will be superseded by “marriage supper of the Lamb”
no longer need symbols when reality is present
we look back to reality of his death for us, we look forward to reality of his coming for us, declaring confidence that our time apart will come to an end
anticipate when we will experience fullness of life and joy in his presence, when “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)
What is to be our occupation until Christ returns? Proclaim Lord Jesus Christ, crucified, risen and coming again, the only one who can reconcile sinful men and women, boys and girls to a holy and righteous God. Have you received God’s forgiveness and the gift of eternal life by trusting in that Lamb of Calvary? Come to the table and find strength for your faith and nourishment for your soul. Are you still estranged from God, trusting in your own goodness to be sufficient? Go and put your trust in Christ, then come to the table with your brothers and sisters.