The greatest gift
Over the course of our lives we may accumulate keepsakes or mementos that remind us of people we have cherished or events that have impacted our lives. I have a little woolly sheep on my mantlepiece that a dear friend bought me as a birthday gift a short time before she died. She reminded me, as she gave it to me, that Jesus is the shepherd, we are His sheep, we know His voice and He calls us by name. It was such a thoughtful gift and every time I look at it, I think of my friend. Not just her kindness, but who she was as a person, her faith in Christ and the time we spent together.
In Mark 14:22, Jesus gives us a way of remembering him, an opportunity to reflect on His great love for us, who He was, His submission to the cross and our relationship with Him. He gave us the ‘Lord’s Supper’, which He instituted with His disciples before His death, knowing this would be His last meal before He was crucified. When we eat the bread of the Lord’s supper, as Jesus showed His disciples to do, we remember that the bread represents Jesus’ body, the body that was scourged, beaten and bruised for us. We think of that selfless sacrifice; how Jesus took the punishment that was due to us as sinners; how much Jesus loved us; what physical pain and suffering he went through; the mental anguish He endured; the cost of ‘He who knew no sin’ taking on the sins of the world and His heart-breaking separation from Father God as He became sin (note: not a sinner). We contemplate the gift within that sacrifice – that as Jesus died and rose again from the dead, He defeated the power of sickness, sin and death. Through Jesus’ broken body, we have healing.
Isaiah prophesied (Isaiah 35:5):
“But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.”
When we take the bread, we can thank God for healing in every area of our bodies – mental and physical – and we can claim this healing in Jesus’ name.
When we drink the wine of the Lord’s supper, we reflect on the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus. His blood was shed on the cross as a once and for all sacrifice to atone for our sins. He was not merely one of many lambs (as in Old Testament culture) who were sacrificed for individual sins but THE Lamb of God who was sacrificed for EVERY sin humanity could ever commit, past, present and future. His blood provides forgiveness for our sins. He has paid for our freedom. Where once we were separated from God because of our sinful nature, Jesus’ blood washes away our sin and makes us right with God so that we can be in relationship with Him and come boldly before the throne. We can speak to God directly, rather than through an intermediary. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, the finished work of the cross, God remembers our sins no more and “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). We are now living under grace – God’s unmerited favour! We don’t deserve it, but Jesus paid for it on our behalf because of his astonishing outrageous love for us.
When we take the Lord’s supper, we are not just remembering what Jesus did and who He was but we are renewing our relationship with Him and our commitment to Him, through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are identifying with Jesus and demonstrating afresh our belief and trust in Him. We are not just carrying out a ritual or following a tradition. The Lord’s Supper is a powerful encounter with the risen Jesus and an opportunity to remember Him and thank Him, the greatest gift of all.