Please Come Near Me
Read Genesis 45:1–5.
When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, he had to instruct them, “Please come near me.” We can assume the brothers shrunk back in fear. Joseph had all power—and every right—to destroy these men. Yet, he also instructs them, “do not be grieved or angry with yourselves.” God used the situation for good. The brothers then go on to honor and serve Joseph.
Some parallels can be drawn to the audience on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection.
Read Acts 2:36–38.
These people were guilty of killing the Son of God. They shrunk back with pierced hearts. God had all power—and every right—to smite them. Yet, Peter gives them instructions on how to respond, and they would receive God’s forgiveness.
Read Hebrews 4:14–16.
The cross of Christ could be used as a condemnation device. Instead, God uses Jesus’ death to bridge the gap, to bring us close, and to invite us to the throne of His mercy and grace.
What Are We Proclaiming?
Read 1 Corinthians 11:26.
The apostle says that when we, as disciples, eat the bread and drink the cup, we proclaim Jesus’ death. Others have also proclaimed his death.
For instance, John 19:32–37. These soldiers were likely the first ones to officially proclaim the death of Jesus. Josephus, a first century Roman historian, also proclaimed Jesus’ death. Other history books have done the same. Today, documentaries and history channels proclaim His death.
But what about us? Why does the Bible seem to make a big deal of our proclamation? After all, we aren’t appointed servants to the governor. Producers of documentaries are not beating down our doors to hear what we have to say about His death. However, we are somehow to be comforted by the fact that we proclaim His death during this meal.
We proclaim that He was not public enemy number one. He was servant number one.
We proclaim that He did not come to destroy the Law and the prophets. He came to fulfill them.
We proclaim that He did not come to judge the world. He came to save it.
We proclaim that He did not stay in that tomb. He rose to life again, being the first fruits of those who are asleep.
Don’t let the lack of lights, microphones, and cameras fool you. What we proclaim with this simple ritual is more important than anything else you’ll ever read in a history book or see on television.
The Impact of the Living Jesus
Read Luke 24:1–7.
“Why seek the living among the dead?” What a question!
One thing that is interesting to me is the idea of fame. Celebrities are magnets to all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons. Some are physically attracted to certain famous people. Others are inspired. Still, others seek their influence, which could perhaps lend itself to fellow artists. The star/fan relationship is an interesting one to be sure. And when the star dies, the world feels it, even though most people never personally knew them.
Consider how famous the tombs of celebrities are. Jim Morrison, Van Gogh, Abraham Lincoln, Bruce Lee, Ernest Hemingway. When I have personally visited the final resting places of people like Beethoven and John Lennon, I thought of their accomplishments and what they stood for while they were living.
Now, take your mind to the tomb of Jesus. One thing that stands out immediately is that, although a tomb, it is not His final resting place. The first visitors to the tomb on that Sunday were asked, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead?”
We can still think of what Jesus stood for and accomplished on earth: compassion to the outcast, properly teaching the word of God, and living a life toward redemption. But because He lives now, he still stands for those things. The empty tomb reminds us of that every day. And, even though He is the most famous person to have ever lived, we can know Him personally!
The God of the Bible is often described as the living God (cf. Matthew 16:16). Isn’t it amazing that, as we gather around a memorial table each first day of the week, we are remembering a God who still lives?
Guilt or Grace?
Read 1 John 3:19–20.
When teaching on the cross of Christ, the emphasis is usually on guilt or grace. Both are appropriate. The apostles often started with guilt, and then moved to grace (see Acts 2:36–39).
When we come to the table, what do we focus on? Should we focus on the blood on our hands? Or should we focus on the blood from His hands? I believe the latter to be the case.
There certainly are proper times for us to be convicted of our sin, driving us to repentance, prayer, and dedication. However, on the eve of His death, He said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Paul reminds us, “We proclaim His death.” We are to come in a worthy manner, knowing that He has paid the debt.
What Do We Remember?
No doubt, some will relate that when it comes time for the Lord's Supper, there is a sense of dread. What consists of "do this in remembrance of me"? It often involves picturing ourselves at the foot of the cross, seeing the spotless Lamb of God brutally killed in our place. It may cause us to tremble. It may cause us to weep. Surely this is an appropriate response. However, these feelings must not linger.
Read Galatians 3:6–14.
When remembering Jesus, we remember not just that He died, but also why He died. He died so we don't have to. He died to become our curse.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Once and For All
Read Genesis 9:7–17.
One time in history, God judged the world through a flood. Once the deed was done, He made His commitment to Noah that His judgment in that way was finished. He flooded the earth once and for all. In one sense, the water was a source of death and judgment. But in Noah’s case, the Scriptures say that Noah and his family were saved by water (1 Peter 3:20).
Similarly, the cross of Christ was a one-time thing. To many, the cross is a source of death and judgment. To us, it is the source of life and salvation.
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Read Hebrews 7:26–28; 9:11–12; 10:10–18.
God’s promise is that this was a one-time thing to cleanse the earth and save the righteous.
Fix Your Eyes on Him
Read Hebrews 12:1–3
Living by faith is not just a way of life for the Christian, but it is the way of life. The Hebrews author spends all of chapter eleven to explain “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6).
He writes chapter eleven to set up his exhortation in chapter twelve—the exhortation to run with endurance the path to Christ. We can do so and not grow weary, if only we will fix our eyes on and consider Jesus carefully. Though he faced the cross and shame, He endured the cross with joy to finish the work God had for Him.
Read Matthew 26:64-68.
As Jesus testified about His identity as the Son of Man figure, the “God-Man” of the book of Daniel, the high priest responded by tearing his clothes. For a long time, I simply considered that as an emotional response, which I am sure it was. However, it was more than that. It was sin.
Read Leviticus 21:10.
As the high priest accused Jesus of blasphemy, he himself went against God’s law, not to mention that he was railing against God’s Son.
Read Matthew 27:50-51.
A few hours after the priest tore his own clothes, God tore the veil of the temple during the ninth hour (v. 46), which was an hour of prayer.
There were a few witnesses to the tearing of the priests clothes, which had implications for his own soul. There were many faithful witnesses to the tearing of the temple’s veil, which has implications on all of our souls.
Jesus is now our high priest forever (Heb. 6:19-20). He does not tear His clothes. In fact, others refused to tear His clothes, choosing to gambled for them instead (John 19:24). But Jesus does remove the veil of the temple, inviting all of the world into the presence of God through His sacrifice.
Eli's Sons and God's Son
Read 1 Samuel 1:3; 2:12-25.
It’s typically said that a priest’s job is to be a mediator. He represents God to the people; he represents the people to God. Hophni and Phinehas were worthless priests. They abused sinners’ offerings to Yahweh, and they committed adultery with the women who were meant to be pure servants of God. Could you imagine being a sincere worshiper of God, coming to the temple, and then handing your valuable sacrifice to slimy men like Hophni and Phinehas? You would know in your heart that you had done the right thing, but what was meant to be a pure offering to God was being handled and abused by unworthy, sinful men.
Now, consider the priesthood of Jesus.
Read Hebrews 4:14-5:10.
Hophni and Phinehas were presumptuous, arrogant, boastful, wicked men, who thought they were “all good” because of their lineage. Jesus, on the other hand, meekest of all, took and takes His role as High Priest seriously. And He serves in this position forever! How do you feel about allowing Him to, not just take your sacrifice, but be your sacrifice to God?
The Seven Sayings of Jesus on the Cross
At the crucifixion, Jesus would have been surrounded by speech. The Romans would have been giving and following instructions. Some were busy deciding who would receive the “treasures” of the victims. Those who condemned the robbers would have been hurling abuse, just as the robbers themselves were doing. The crowds would not have been able to hold in their reactions to the gruesomeness of crucifixion. The women would have been weeping. But Jesus? As far as we know, He opened His mouth only seven times. Each time is significant.
Perhaps this is the first of His phrases from the cross. How fitting, as the cross is the means for forgiveness.
The first was about spiritual provision. Now, He focuses on physical provision.
Jesus shows that anyone who comes to Him for eternal life is acceptable.
Jesus alludes to Psalm 22:1, showing the true cost of sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Only after He knew all other tasks and people were cared for did He mention His own desires.
Jesus came into the world as a baby, completely dependant on His mother and Joseph. Now, leaving the world, having cared for His own mother, He commits Himself to the Father.
The phrase we mourn over but rejoice in.
The immediate result of the torn veil still holds significance in our hearts today. Through the righteousness of Jesus, all of God’s priests have access to the holy place.
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
The Lord calls us around His table. As we gather, He commands us, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:25). As I consider the great invitation to share in the blood and body of the Lord, I also share these thoughts with you. Perhaps, they will help you reflect.
Except where noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation