Do You Remember?
Do you remember? He said do this in remembrance of me. One way to do this is to overview the entire work of Christ. If we do that we can summarize His work in the two broad categories of His humiliation and His exaltation.
1A. His humiliation
Paul tells us in the book of Philippians that we are to have the mind of Christ, to be like Him who being God, and never ceasing to be God, became a human servant and humbled himself in obedience even unto death on a cross (Phil. 2:5-8). Humiliation covers His entire presence on this earth.
Most of the Gospels cause us to remember His lowly birth. But it was to what ultimate end? (Lk. 2:12-14). The immediate goal was to save His people from their sins. The ultimate goal was the glory of God. The coming hour He spoke about combines the deepest humiliation with glory (Jn. 12, 17). That is the great end beyond all ends. If you want to know why you exist as well as who you are, you find both in glorifying God because we were created to be His image and thus to reflect His glory. This is the great end beyond all ends! Lowly birth, humbleness, is part of the pathway that leads to glory. The humiliation of Christ secured a place for us in glory where we will be what we were made to be: reflections of His majestic excellence and radiant beauty.
How can humiliation lead to glory? Do you remember His repentance baptism-that is a remarkable humiliation and that begins His ministry? How is He a sinner? What sin can possibly confess? (Matt. 3:6, 13-14, He confesses the sins of His people which He owns as His own-He saves us from our sins by making them His own and this is a wonderful undercurrent of His humble submission in mission from the "get go.").
Thus the Gospels move in leaps from His baptism with water to His baptism with fire. Think of Matthew that goes from His birth to His baptism, from birth to about age 30 in the first 3 chapters, then in broad sweep we have the Sermon on the Mount, teaching by miracles and parables, and we find ourselves at the triumphal entry in chapter 21. Let's look there more closely.
Remember the "grand" entry into Jerusalem as king with all the Hosannas? But what king is this who comes riding on the donkey of humiliation? He is the king of righteousness because righteousness is found in the way of humbleness of heart before God. He is "your king" (Matt. 21:5). He is the One who comes in the name of the Lord (Matt. 21:9).
Judas betrayed Him and He was arrested by fumbling soldiers. What does that show us? (Jn. 18:6)
Jesus attracted multitudes, crowds (Matt. 21:9). However, the same crowd that cheered Him cried out for His crucifixion having been stirred up by the chief priests (Matt. 27:20: Pilate asked, "what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" and they all answered "crucify Him. He tried to pacify the crowd with the question, "why, what crime has He committed? But they shouted all the louder, crucify Him! (Matt. 21:22-23).
Then He was left alone. Peter denied Him not once but three times even cursing: "I know not the man."
Forsaken by his friends, but what radiates from His eyes when they meet Peter's eyes (Lk. 22:60-62)? You see love in there for Peter, for the disciples, for all those given to Him by the Father (Jn. 17:2; Heb. 2:9-16). So you see in His eyes a loving resolve to fulfill His baptismal pledge for them and us. It was truly the case that "friends through fear disowned His cause while foes insulted His distress."
The trials were unjust, a pure mockery of justice. So why was He condemned before Pilate (Lk. 23:13-14)? It was because He was innocent. This is Passover. This is the holy and spotless Lamb of God predestined from the foundation of the world to be slain. Now the ages stare at the hours for the hour of hours has come now the Lamb will be slain, the just for the unjust; to serve the justice of God through the greatest injustice of man.
When He was crucified in public, why is it that He suffers most in the darkness? It is because the deepest stroke that pierced him was the stroke that Justice gave (Matt.27:46, Father, why have you forsaken me?). That is why he was so troubled in the shadow of the cross; this is why the ambivalence, the tension beyond compare (Jn. 12:27-28).
He went into a land of extreme famine and drought for us He thirsts in the wholeness of his being. But is it to gain some relief from suffering that He cries out, "I thirst"? No, it is to fulfill Scripture this is strength. He longs like the deer for the water brooks; He longs for a return to the Father (Jn. 19:28). Is there any weakness portrayed here? None at all He is still about His determined work of humiliation in honor to the Father.
He died and was buried but was anything accomplished? Yes, the salvation of His people was accomplished and secured once and for all (Jn. 19: 29-30). Finished, hear the dying savior cry. Yes, there my sins were punished once and for all; there your sins, O saints of God, were punished once and for all. You and I were loved personally and individually; our sins specifically and totally were laid on Him. He appeased the wrath of God on our behalf back there on the cross. He satisfied God's just claims against us at Calvary. He was our actual substitute. "O what glory and blissmine, mine the transgression, Thine the awful pain." So we say, "It is thy work alone O Christ that saved my guilty soul; thy work alone O lamb of God that made my spirit whole." Jesus "himself bore our sins in his body on the tree" (1 Pet. 2:24).
2A. His exaltation
He was humbled but not defeated. God raised Him from the dead. It is shown in John 20 (empty tomb, grave clothes, John and Peter in a race, the women, the upper room with doubting Thomas, broiling fish by the Sea). It is shown in Lk. 24:13-35 in the account of the two on the road to Emmaus whose hearts burned within them having been with Jesus. It is shown in 1 Cor. 15:1-8 in the appearances to the 500. And last of all Paul's life was interrupted on the Damascus road where he was apprehended by the living Savior (as described in Gal. 2).
Jesus was exalted to the right hand of the Father to intercede for us as our Great High Priest (begun as shown in Jn. 17 and carried on in glory, Rom. 8:31-34).
He completed His journey, His mission, His work on earth.
He loved the disciples to the end of His journey (Jn. 13:1) and to the end of their separate journeys (Matt. 28:20).
He loves you and me likewise-across the years of our journey and to the end for the one who bore your sins on the cross will see to it that you arrive safely at home with Him in glory. If Jesus died for you then it is impossible and inconceivable that you will fail to arrive safely home to heaven (Rom. 8:32). This is marvelous thought beyond compare: if He died for you then you will inherit all things!
The humiliation and exaltation of the Lord Jesus is the context of the communion bread and cup. They are the new covenant. Communion involves remembering the death of our risen Lord. In this ritual he repeats and confirms this promise: I will nourish you all the way to glory.
2A. Having remembered, what should you do now?
What is the right response to the coming of the kingdom? Forceful people seize the kingdom as a prize. If you see the kingdom as the treasure that it is then this is what you will do: with eagerness, determination and delight, you will embrace Jesus Christ and you will commit yourself to His word, the Bible.
Bow before him in utter thankfulness, worship, and praise. None shall ever be confounded who on him their hope have built. That is why we are to tune our harps and say, speak, sing -Glory to the bleeding lamb! Glory to the bleeding Lamb! It's not in our hands. It is His work alone that saves (Sing: vs.1,2, 3).
3A. What do you say in the symbols as you partake of the bread and wine?
You are saying that you need Him, you need this body and blood of the risen savior like you need food and drink for your very life. You are saying that you own Him as your very own as you take this nourishment to your pallet. You are saying that you own His people as your family because there is one loaf and therefore we, being many, are one body.
And each is a prayer to the Lord Jesus where you are saying: "O Lord Jesus, I need you, I own you as my own personal savior, and I own your children as my brothers and sisters." We are a Christian family under one heavenly Father.
We remember along the lines of His reminding. We hear His voice in communion. Then we speak as well. We speak in symbolic partaking.
So take and eat in remembrance of the risen Lord Jesus and in sheer devotion, gratitude and love cling to Him as your prophet, priest, and king over your entire life for now and forevermore by His grace.