Sunday, 17 June 2012

Sermon Notes: Come Everything is Ready

If you’re an outsider looking in on a church, communion is an odd ritual isn’t it? Symbolizing cannibalism - eating Jesus’ body and drinking his blood? Moreover, if it is only a memorial (a remembrance), aren’t there better ways to remember? E.g. bible reading, DVD watching, worship CD listening?

The God of the Bible loves to eat with people (e.g. Gen.18, Ex.24), not because he needs calories, but because he is love and enjoys sharing all that he is and has with anyone who will come to him (Luke 14:17)

Read Deuteronomy 14:22-29. In the Old Testament (OT) God’s people were called to eat with him at his house at least three times a year (in the festivals of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles) They would go to Jerusalem, taking their tithes and offerings, feasting together, sharing what they had with the priests (who had no means of generating income because they were serving at the temple) and the poor. The Bible would be read and centre stage would be a number of animal sacrifices and offerings.

Jesus takes this whole sacrificial and festival system and transforms it (or recreates it) when he tells his disciples in Matt 26:17-29 that they are no longer to feed on him / anticipate him through animal sacrifice, but through bread and wine.

The Old Testament relates to the New Testament like a caterpillar to a butterfly – they both have the same essential “DNA” but the latter in each case is a more glorious and beautiful expression of that DNA than before. Jesus at the cross did nothing less than recreate everything new.

So the early church keeps the “DNA” of the OT feasts, but expresses them in a new way. They still bring their offerings, they still share what they have with the poor and those in full time ministry, they still eat together and rejoice regularly, but at the centre of this celebration is bread and wine not animal sacrifice. Why is that?

  1. Christ only died once, there is no need for any more (animal) death.
  2. Christ now gives us his resurrection life through the Spirit like a tree which gives it’s fruit (wine) away without having to die.
  3. It was forbidden to eat the blood of the OT animal sacrifices for they could not cleanse consciences or give (eternal) life. Jesus’ blood achieves both of those things for us so we can receive them gladly.
  4. Human sacrifice was outrageous and outlawed, not because it was wrong per se, but because there was never anyone worthy to be offered to God in our place. Jesus is the only person who has ever lived who was worthy to be a human sacrifice on our behalf.
So when the OT saints met to feast, and when the early church met to feast, and when we meet to feast, we are all prophetically acting out the great feast, that the whole world is invited to. Now we do it by faith, one day we will do it face to face with the living God. (Rev.19:6-9)

Jesus invites you to his table, he has made everything ready for you to come to him, be washed by him (baptized) be clothed by him (given his righteousness) be anointed by him, (receive the Holy Spirit) and come to eat at his table. (Every time you get ready for a celebration, you are acting out God’s invitation of salvation.)

Your place at his table is based on his gracious invitation, not your performance. Jesus feeds us with himself here. This is a profound mystery, which you don’t need to understand any more than a toddler needs to understand how mummy made dinner, you just need to receive him by faith.

And so as his image bearer, will you let your home reflect God’s home? Will you welcome people who are not like you? Refuse to only entertain people who are “useful” to you in some way. Please kill the impulse to want to impress others with your good cooking and hosting if it means you ignore the command of God to show compassion to others. Think outside the box, if you have little time or you don’t consider yourself a great cook, then just do beans on toast, or order in pizza and treat someone. The point is that the meal is an occasion to share your heart with another, not show off. When we do this, we reflect the heart of him who has called us out of darkness to feast in his marvelous light.

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