Behold, the Lamb of God.
Tomorrow 8th April 2020 marks the beginning of Passover celebrations for the Jewish people.
An interesting intersection in time that cannot be ignored as possibly for the first time in thousands of years, the Jews will be celebrating Passover inside their homes just as they did on the very first Passover (Exodus 12).
Shortly thereafter, and still within the Passover days, the Christian community will have Easter celebrations on Sunday 12th April 2020, also referred to as Resurrection Sunday or Pascha. The day our Lord Jesus was raised from the dead.
The Lord Jesus, on the night before he was crucified, shared one last meal with his disciples. During this meal our saviour instituted the Holy Communion - his Body and Blood.
It’s a good opportunity during this season especially as we gather around with our families to be reminded of the significance of the Holy Communion.
What is the Holy Communion or Eucharist?
The Holy Communion also referred to as the Eucharist (which means “thanksgiving”) is a New testament pattern established by the Lord Jesus Christ at the Lord’s supper on the night he was betrayed as recorded in the scriptures - Mt 26:26-28; cf. Mk 14:22-24, Lk 22:17-20, 1 Cor 11:23-25
It consists of the partaking of two physical elements, - the bread and drink, which become spiritual elements namely - His flesh and His blood.
Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said,
“Take, eat; this is My body.”
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
- Matthew 26:26-28
Why is it important for believers to understand the Holy communion?
Partaking of the Holy Communion is a holy expression of worship and thanksgiving.
Furthermore, it's a demonstration of a believer’s faith and firm conviction as pertaining to the finished work of the cross.
When we partake, what we are saying is, Lord I continue to believe, to celebrate and to give thanks for the precious gift of life received when your son Jesus died in my place on the cross. I recognise that through Jesus’s death, I have come into a new covenant with you in which I have obtained right standing with you, not by anything that I could do but by the blood of Jesus who gave His life for me. And gave me life.
"Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."
– Hebrews 9:12
Why is this important?
Hebrews 9:22 reads, "in fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. So, it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these."
Right from Genesis we see the killing of an animal as an atoning sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins of the people. The blood of Jesus was God’s perfect plan for redemption of mankind. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14).
When John the baptist saw Jesus coming towards him he said, “Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” – John 1:29
Partaking of the communion, as often as we do it, is more than a ritualistic practice its worship.
Imagine if you would God’s most perfect contract with you, in which he offers you the most precious and desirable gift – eternal life, signed in the blood of his son but with your name placed on it. We, having done nothing to deserve it, deserving of wrath, and yet obtaining such a glorious gift.
The moment you accept Jesus, He puts your name on it, and makes you a beneficiary of these good things. Jesus has done it all.
Why should believers partake of the Holy Communion?
I believe the main encompassing reason is in the central message of Jesus’s ministry – His life.
"He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father,
so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.
This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”
Jesus here teaches that whoever feeds on him will live because of him.
We have to allow ourselves to look at the Holy Communion beyond that which our eyes can see and our minds can understand.
"If the word of the Lord Jesus is so powerful as to bring into existence things which were not, then a fortiori those things which already exist can be changed into something else" ( De Sacramentis, IV, 5-16).
Consider that in essence, by partaking of the Holy Communion with his disciples before his death, Jesus in fact gave his disciples his life (Body and Blood) before he died. Now, that is not something we can comprehend with basic human reasoning.
That is, when he died, he was still living in them.
How much more now that He is Risen!
As we approach Easter and Passover celebrations my prayer for you is that through His Grace and by the work of the Holy Spirit you will come into a deeper intimacy with the Lord through the partaking of the Holy Communion and celebration of the Lord’s supper in reverence, respect and adoration.
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:24