Most people have heard of communion, buy many are unfamiliar with either its meaning or significance.
Our redemption began with the Incarnation - the story of an infinite God who became a man and lived among us in a broken world full of decay. Then it was the Atonement – the story of an infinite God who wrote a personal check that paid our huge debt, and sacrificed himself for our sins...
Why does Jesus' death matter? Not as some historical artifact of time passed, but why is it the center of what matters in my life and in your life? Matthew 27:1-45 talks about the death of Jesus, the murder at the center of all human history. With all that you have to do. With the...
Atonement: An infinite God, who came to take our place. And Moses said to Aaron, go into the altar, and offer your sin offering, and your burnt offering, and make an atonement for yourself, and for the people: and offer the offering of the people, and make an atonement for them; as the...
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup,
you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”
(1 Corinthians 11:26)
Most people have heard of communion, but many are unfamiliar with either its meaning or significance.
Communion symbolizes and celebrates the most important doctrines of the church and the very essence of the gospel message. Communion is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian.
Jesus instituted communion during the Last Supper, the night before he was crucified. At that time, Jesus explained its meaning. His simply spoken explanation is deeply profound:
Take, eat; this is my body…Drink, for this is my blood of the new covenant…
Several aspects of communion have deep significance for Christians, and, indeed, all of mankind.
Communion is all about our relationship with God.
Jesus expressed his deep desire for a relationship with us on that unforgettable night. Jesus said, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:15)
Why? Because he is eager to enter into the lives of his disciples and he wants to share his life with us.
We have a relationship with God because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
In Matthew’s account of the Last Supper, we read:
And as they were eating, 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)
The “blood of the new covenant” – Jesus’ blood – was shed “for the remission of sins.” Our sins.
Unless we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus, we have no life. It is through identifying with Jesus’ sacrifice that we enter into a relationship with him. Jesus referred to this as a “covenant.” (A covenant is a binding agreement.)
At the time, the disciples did not grasp the enormity of what had just transpired. Jesus replaced the old covenant of works and obedience with a new covenant of grace and faith. (See Hebrews chapter 8 regarding why the new covenant is a better covenant built on better promises.)
We have a relationship with God through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
In Luke’s record of the Last Supper, we read:
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)
Jesus wants us to remember – to both commemorate and celebrate – his sacrifice for us. It is through his sacrifice that we can approach the throne of God. We do that by coming (figuratively) to the foot of the cross. It is at the cross that we apprehend the body and blood of Christ.
Jesus referred to himself as the “door” (John 10:9) and “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). That door – that pathway to God – is the cross. We need to walk through that Door.
Jesus offers us a never-ending relationship with him.
Remember Jesus’ fervent desire “to eat this Passover with you before I suffer”? Jesus’ next words point to our final destination in Paradise.
Jesus continued, “…for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:16)
Until what is fulfilled? The salvation of all those who accept the blood of Jesus as atonement for their sins.
Jesus offers each of us eternal life with him in heaven. In Revelation 3:20, Jesus gives us an invitation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me.”
Through communion, Jesus offers us the opportunity to dine with him; to partake of the bread and the wine, which symbolize his broken body and shed blood. The time of communion invites us to commemorate Jesus' sacrifice and to remember that our relationship with God is made possible only because of what Jesus did.
Our redemption began with the Incarnation - the story of an infinite God who became a man and lived among us in a broken world full of decay.
Then it was the Atonement – the story of an infinite God who wrote a personal check that paid our huge debt, and sacrificed himself for our sins. Jesus’ death then became the most meaningful murder in all of human history.
If you entered into relationship with Jesus in incarnation, connected with his death in faith to live Jesus, then where is your victory without the risen king?
This is the Resurrection.
Everything about Jesus is unique: The prophecies of his coming, his birth, his incarnation, atonement, teachings, miracles, and his death and resurrection. It is especially his resurrection that gave us the full validity of Jesus. He did not stay in the grave, but he rose from the dead just as he said he would.
Some skeptics and unbelievers say that to believe in a risen Christ is nothing more than a blind leap of faith with little or no basis in truth.
But we have the answer from Paul in no uncertain terms: “…if Christ has not been raised then we, out of all people, are to be “pitied,” for our hope in Christ fails to extend beyond this present life.” (1 Corinthians 15:19)
He continues: “But since Christ has been raised, we are those who can look death in the face knowing that it has no final victory, no lasting sting.” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)
Without the resurrection of Jesus, we have no hope of a future. But because Christ is risen, we, as those who are in Christ, have every assurance that our labor in sharing this gospel of the risen Christ to a broken generation is not pointless or without purpose, but will matter for all eternity. Therefore, we must not forget that the resurrection of Christ changes everything. Without it, we have no gospel, no salvation and certainly no saving message.
Jesus’ Resurrection sets Christianity apart by breaking the power of death and sin with a final confirmation to live free and believe big!
For 40 days after his death and resurrection, Jesus appeared many times to his disciples and followers. On one occasion, he gathered his remaining eleven disciples on a mountain in Galilee and gave them his great commission.
He said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always" (Matthew 28:19-20)
Later, he asked his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were filled with the Holy Spirit and then to take his message to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the world (Acts 1:4,5,8).
The ascension of Jesus was the final act in the journey of our redemption. His mission was completed and he was exalted to his former glory.
But Jesus still sees us, stays with us, has a personal relationship with us, and still lives amongst us through the Spirit.
If Jesus’ Incarnation was the most humbling event, and his Atonement was the most meaningful murder in the whole of human history, indeed his Resurrection was the most revolutionary event in the whole of human history.
Why does Jesus' death matter?
Not as some historical artifact of time passed, but why is it the center of what matters in my life and in your life? Matthew 27:1-45 talks about the death of Jesus, the murder at the center of all human history.
With all that you have to do. With the bills to pay, the schools to go to, the things to learn, the love to find, the love to give, the children to raise - whatever it is that so occupies your mind and your heart, whatever it is that you think is most important right now, there is something more important still. It is not some long ago disconnected event, it is the centerpiece of your life!
Romans 3:25 says "God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in His blood." The Atonement is where Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for sins. So Jesus became a sacrifice, and by believing in the meaning of what God did in dying for us, our sins can be lifted, forgiven, erased - carried away!
It matters because Jesus' death defeats the gravity of 'The Fall' - that's what it does! In "The Fall," we chose our own way, we rebelled against God and the result was we were cast out of Eden. We wanted freedom from the love and relationship of God and what we got was insanity, chaos, brokenness and the gravity of sin introduced a cancer into all of life!
Gravity - There is this continual 'pulling down' of force that is unseen and unstoppable and it not only affects physical objects, it effects everything in your life!
Every good intention that you have.
It affects your mind and how you think about money and sexuality...there is a downward pull on those things.
Let's think about being depressed. What does being 'depressed' mean? It means something is pushing down!
In most of our lives, there are like one or two sins that are like drugs, they offer us something 'other than' God, and we turn to them over and over again. Then we say we'll never do that again and then 'gravity' happens and then the attempt to lift it up - but down it goes!
All of this is what the Bible tells us is part of 'The Fall'.
In Jesus' death, He was an atoning sacrifice that literally answered and canceled all of the sin of all of humanity - when we believe!
So the gravity of 'The Fall' is beaten, when we connect the death of Jesus with our living, and we can then live defying gravity until Heaven comes!
What I'm telling you is that when we believe in the death of Jesus, we become free and the downward force of the gravity is overcome!
Now I want you to understand, we are living in the age of redemption. There is an age of restoration that is coming when there will be no more sin!
No more downward pull. No more gravity!
But I until then, if you are a believer, do not think that you are a failure because you have to struggle - you are a great success! An airplane has to struggle to get off the ground and defy gravity! Even after it launches into the air, it can't then say "Ok, I'm in the air, everything should be easy, shut the engines off!" Yet, some believers say "Oh, I accepted Jesus, everything should be easy if God loves me, no more tears, no more pain, no more crying." No, that's heaven, but until then, we have to go through it, we have to keep moving forward, we have to overcome in faith through God's grace!
In our struggle, until the restoration, we have the promise of God that we do not have to be victims of our own lust, of our own consumerism, we do not have to live depressed and down, we can soar as high as the grace of God! There will always be a struggle here on planet earth, but so what, we can win! Jesus' death defeats the gravity of the fall; you are not fated to fail!
The scripture says, in 1 John 2:2, "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, not only for ours, but for the sins of the whole world." Jesus died for you - If you and I will connect the meaning of His death to the ongoing meaning of our lives, everything changes! Father God I pray, in Jesus' name, that we would hear the story of the death of Jesus and that we would connect the meaning of His death to the living of our lives! -Dr. Drew Shofner
Atonement: An infinite God, who came to take our place.
And Moses said to Aaron, go into the altar, and offer your sin offering, and your burnt offering, and make an atonement for yourself, and for the people: and offer the offering of the people, and make an atonement for them; as the LORD commanded. (Leviticus 9:7)
Jesus demonstrated his love for us by taking on the form of man through incarnation; to be broken with us in order to establish a relationship with us and bring us redemption. He delivers us from our ruin.
Jesus knew the Mosaic law very well and he knew the law was insufficient to wash our sins away. The Mosaic Law was designed so the high priest could approach God to make amends for the sins of the people.
One key aspect of the Mosaic law was that the high priest had to first make atonement for himself before making it for the people. This was an acknowledgment of his personal imperfection. Indeed, the whole process was imperfect and only served as a pointer to the reason why God deemed the Mosaic order as insufficient to save us from our depravity.
But this is not the case with Jesus.
“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” (Hebrews 9:24)
Jesus was sinless. He did not have to atone for his sin first, which means that instead of the blood of animals being used by the priest for atonement for themselves and the people, his sinless blood was shed that truly washes our sins away.
So, what is the atonement, and why does it matter?
Atonement is from the Hebrew word ‘kippur’ and it means to cover over, expiate or make payment – particularly for a wrongdoing. Atonement is God’s provision for a sinful, broken generation of depraved people to be redeemed. Atonement means we are justified and made fit to have relationship with God.
Atonement becomes necessary because of the fall of man. When man sinned, he became guilt-laden and estranged from God. We are on a downward spiral of death and destruction without God.
Here’s the dilemma:
On one hand, God’s holiness and justice demanded that man be punished for his sins. This means that we should share a similar fate in hell with Satan and his demons who also sinned against God. The wages of sin is death – death of the sinner! The problem of sin with it’s consequences, is so great that human imagination cannot fathom an appropriate solution for it. It is only in God’s way and on his own terms that man’s sin can be cleansed.
But on the other hand…God’s attributes of mercy, kindness, and grace desired to pardon man—to forgive our sins and restore us to favor and relationship with him.
God found a solution to this dilemma by making a provision for atonement. Under God’s law, there must be transfer of the sinner’s guilt upon an acceptable substitute who can bear the lawful punishment, so that God can express his kindness and grace to sinful men without any hindrance.
This ultimate atonement was accomplished by Jesus, the true and perfect High Priest. He was sinless. The true unblemished sacrifice that completely removes our sin.
What does this mean?
Jesus’ death on the cross means that when you turn from self, repent from your sin, and put your faith in Jesus, your sins will be vanquished. Not just forgiven—taken away! No matter how terrible your sins are, no other sacrifice is necessary for your cleansing and reconciliation with God. Being reconciled with God, you become a child of God, and have access to the unsearchable riches of Christ in this world and beyond.
That’s why the atonement matters.