Nov3TueNovember 3, 2015
We believe that the Lord Jesus commanded the church to observe two ordinances. One is baptism, which is unrepeated and signifies the beginning of life in Christ. The other is the Lord’s Supper which is repeated and signifies…what?
As with anything that we do regularly, communion can be taken lightly and it can become something we do without much thought. Because we’re so familiar with communion, it becomes so easy to allow it to become a mindless exercise, doesn’t it?
Why do we do the Lord’s Supper? What is its significance?
Last time we considered the fact that it proclaims the gospel. Every time we eat the Lord’s Supper we proclaim that Jesus died as our substitute for sin so we could be forgiven.
In future messages we will consider three other themes of remembrance, unity and expectancy. We will also consider what it means to eat unworthily.
This morning we will see that we do it because we are thankful. The truth communion symbolizes should elicit deep thankfulness for and joy in what God has accomplished for us. The sight of the bread and the cup reminds us how full, perfect, and complete is our salvation. Those vivid emblems remind us what an enormous price has been paid for our redemption.
All throughout the Scriptures we are commanded to be thankful and this is not without cause for we have much to be thankful for:
In light of all of this it is not surprising that the Bible considers being unthankful as one of the ugliest attitudes anyone can possess. The account of the 10 lepers in Luke 17:11-19 drives home that truth. It seems unthinkable that only one would return but before we judge them too harshly we must ask ourselves how often do we take our blessings for granted and fail to thank the Lord? How often are we content to enjoy the gift and forget the Giver? We are painfully much like the other 9.
Remember, God created us for gratitude. God created us to honor and give thanks to Him. We are designed to humble ourselves in the presence of Someone infinitely more worthy than us. And we are designed to give praise and thanksgiving to Him for the comforts of this life. However we have all failed miserably in appreciating God as we should. Romans 1:21-23 says, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”
Thanklessness is not merely simply a failure of manners like forgetting to write a thank you card for a gift. No, it is godlessness and at its root is pride and arrogance. What is more, an unthankful heart is fertile soil for all kinds of sins.
Being unthankful was the sin of Satan. He craved more power and more glory for himself. He was and is an ingrate.
Being unthankful was also the sin of Adam and Eve. They weren’t satisfied in God and what he gave. They wanted more and we are no different. Before and after our salvation we are unthankful people.
This is yet another reason to praise God for the gospel of Jesus Christ. God himself, in the person of his Son, Jesus, entered into our thankless world and lived a life of thankfulness to God and died for our sin on the cross (including our continual ingratitude).
In Matthew 11:25 we read ,”Jesus declared, ‘I thank you, Father, the Lord of heaven and earth…’
In Matthew 15:36 we read that Jesus, “took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds”
In John 11:41 it says, “So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me.’”
In Luke 22:17-20 it is recorded that Jesus gave thanks before they drank the cup and before they ate the bread.
Jesus not only died to forgive our failure of thankfulness to God but also lived the perfect life of appreciation to God the Father.
And now as those who are trusting in Jesus Christ, who have been redeemed and forgiven, we should be in a continual posture of praise and thanksgiving to God.
Colossians 3:15-17: 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 4:2: Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
Ephesians 5:20: giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
1 Thess. 5:18: 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Thanksgiving is to be a characteristic of the entire Christian life. Everywhere and in every situation God’s people should continually give thanks to God. It should be a lifestyle, not a holiday to be observed. It should overflow from our hearts not merely drip out occasionally like a leaky faucet. Instead of carping and droning, whining and complaining, boohooing and eeyoreing we should overflow with thankfulness superabundantly to the praise of God’s glory and grace. Instead of “I’m so tired! I’m so busy! I’m so overwhelmed” but “Thank you, Father, for the strength to obey even when I feel weak” and “Thank you for the blessings of work and rest.” Instead of complaining about the white house or the presidential candidates try “Thank you God that you reign in perfect justice.” “Thank you for the many freedoms I enjoy.” “Thank you for the men and women who sacrificed everything for these freedoms.” Instead of Thank God for the small things and big things - Thank God for raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens. Thank God for healing that runny nose and for big things like a friends growth in Christ and God rescuing you from sin. Thank him for the rain and the crunch of an apple or for the sweetness of honey and thank God for Jesus bearing His wrath.
Time does not allow me to say as much as I would like about each one of these things. In reality, each of them deserves a sermon in and of themselves.
I want us to think about this (vv. 23-24) – On the very night Jesus is betrayed and the next day he will be crucified yet Jesus took bread and gave thanks. What does the bread signify? His own broken body! How could he be thankful to God the Father for his own broken and bloody death? Because He was aware that this night and the crucifixion the next day was going exactly according to plan. Things were not falling apart, they were coming together. Jesus was loving and trusting his Father who had planned it all. Life is not a roll of the dice. God the Father upholds all things. There are no accidents with God, only incidents. Some of those incidents are bad and painful. Some of those incidents are good and wonderful. But most assuredly God is not silent in any of them. He is the God who is there and in the life of each one of us who are lovingly trusting in Him is a sign which reads “God at work for good.” God is involved even in our darkest moments in a way we cannot see and probably wouldn’t understand even if we could see it and for that, just like Jesus, we can be thankful.
Let me tell you the story about a boy named Randy. One day he was watching his mother bake cakes and she had all the ingredients set out – flour, sugar, baking powder, raw egg, vanilla – and he sneaked a taste of each one. Except for the sugar, they all tasted horrible. Then his mother stirred them together and put the batter in the oven. It didn’t make any sense to Randy that the combination of individually distasteful things produced such a tasty product. So with God! He takes all the undesirable stresses in our lives, mixes them together, puts them under the heat of crises, and produces a perfect result. And for that we can be thankful!
Listen, gratitude never comes from avoiding difficulty, but from finding yourself sustained through it. It comes from learning that God’s grace is sufficient and we never need to be worried or anxious because our heavenly Father is in control and he loves us. God’s sustaining providence brings relief, even when life becomes unspeakably difficult.
As we remember communion, let us give thanks for God’s wonder working providence.
Communion is both backward looking and forward looking. Jesus bod was crushed, his blood was spilt, and he died for our sins. However, that wasn’t the end of the story. Jesus was raised from the dead, ascended to the Father, and He has given us a promise – He will come again to receive us unto Himself. Every time we take communion we are declaring to the world that we believe in a returning Lord who will complete the great work of salvation and who will restore all things. So as we partake in communion we give thanks that Jesus is coming again and with him his perfect kingdom and we will live and reign with him and all his people forever and ever! Our bodies will be glorified no longer susceptible to disease but imperishable, honorable and powerful. All the wickedness and injustice will be judged and made right. And the greatest truth of all is we will see Jesus and enjoy him forever and ever.
So let us give thanks that Jesus is coming as a bridegroom for his bride and will take us to the great marriage supper. Let us give thanks for this invincible future that nothing can separate us from.
The word forgive means to wipe the slate clean, to pardon, to cancel a debt. The Bible tells us that we are all in need of forgiveness from God. We have all committed sin against God and all desperately need his forgiveness. The only just penalty for our sin is death. Thankfully, Jesus died on the cross, taking that penalty that we deserve.
Ephesians 1:7 - In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.
Matthew 26:28 – “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” The blood of Jesus is the basis of our forgiveness. When we drink the cup of the Lord’s Supper we are giving thanks for the purchase of the forgiveness of our sins by the blood of Jesus.
Apostle Paul, in Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” I will always stand in awe of the wonder of God’s love for me. The famous hymn, “The Love of God” contains wonderful words that seek to describe the indescribable gift of God’s love in this way: Could we with ink the ocean fill,And were the skies of parchment made,Were every stalk on earth a quill,And every man a scribe by trade,To write the love of God above,Would drain the ocean dry.Nor could the scroll contain the whole,Though stretched from sky to sky. I realize that I cannot describe the love of God, but most importantly, I realize that I do not deserve the love of God. If I received on my best day what I deserved, I would receive the wrath of God. That is why Grace is so amazing. Thanks be to God for the gift of salvation.
In summary, what we are saying is “Jesus is the one who makes thanksgiving possible.”
The greatest gift of all—the gift for which we should all be most thankful—is the Father’s gift of His perfect, innocent Son. His beloved Son, whom He gave to die on the Cross in order to pay sin’s penalty in the place of sinners like you and me. Who rose from the grave on the third day in order to bring true, spiritual, eternal life to all those who forsake their sins and depend entirely on Him to provide their righteousness before a Holy God.
Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift!
Let us continually offer up to him in word and actions praise and thanksgiving. Let us everywhere and in every situation continually give thanks to God. Let us put off far from us ingratitude.