Memorials to the Master
We are prone to forget so many things. I never can remember exactly where I placed our car keys. I can never remember exactly where I parked in a parking lot. When I go to the grocery store, I inevitably forget something. I never can remember to get everything in the bulletin which belongs in there.
The Lord knew just how forgetful we humans can be, so he set up memorials so that we would remember. The Passover Feast was a memorial of the Lord’s redemption of Israel from bondage (Ex. 12:14). God instructed the Israelites to make tassels on the garments that they might “remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them” (Ex. 15:39). God told Joshua to construct a stone monument in the middle of the Jordan so the Israelites and their children would remember God’s helping the Israelites cross the Jordan (Josh. 4:7).
This morning, we want to examine three memorials in this era that God has set up by which we should remember him.
The Lord’s Supper, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25
On the night Jesus was betrayed he took bread, blessed it, and gave it to his disciples. In the same way, he took the cup, blessed it, and gave it to his disciples. Jesus gave both the bread and the cup to his disciples with this admonition, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” In this narrative, Jesus twice says, “Do this in remembrance of me.” This instruction is repeated to stress the point that the Lord’s Supper only has one purpose: to focus attention on the Lord.
There are several false views of the Lord’s Supper.
- Some claim that the bread and fruit of the vine literally become the body and blood of the Lord.
- Some claim that although the bread and fruit of the vine do not literally become the body and blood of the Lord that the Lord is literally present in these emblems.
- Some claim that partaking of the Lord’s Supper is a way of receiving the forgiveness of sins.
- These views of the Lord’s Supper fly right in the face of what the Lord said about the Lord’s Supper – it is a way that we are to remember him.
There are three important lessons we can learn from this memorial.
- We can learn about the seriousness of sin. Sin is so serious that Jesus had to die to redeem us from it. Sin is so serious that we need a memorial to remember Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins.
- We can learn about the greatness of God’s love. God loved us enough to send Jesus to die for our sins (Jn. 3:16). In the Lord’s Supper, we are remembering that love that God showed at Calvary.
- We can learn about the cost of salvation. Salvation is costly, nothing to take for granted or take lightly – it cost the death of the only Son of God. This memorial reminds us of how costly salvation is.
Some say that it devalues the Lord’s Supper to take it each week. But, does it devalue the memory of a departed loved one when you see a picture of him/her and remember him/her? What if you think of that loved one more than once a week – does that devalue his memory? Obviously not! We need to think about Jesus and remember his death.
When we come to the Lord’s Supper, we need to remember the Lord’s death. We need to place everything else out of our minds. We do not need to be thinking about what we’ll do this afternoon. We do not need to be reading the bulletin. We do not need to be making out our check for the contribution. We do not need to be going through our pocketbook to find gum. We do not need to be whispering with those around us. We do not need to be passing notes back and forth.
Napoleon said that his first communion was the happiest day of his life. Communion should be the highlight of our week, because in taking these emblems we remember the Lord’s death. Is the Lord’s Supper the highlight of your week? Do you remember the Lord’s death when you take the Lord’s Supper?
Baptism, Romans 6:3-4
Baptism is a reminder of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. As many of us as were baptized in Jesus have been baptized into his death. Baptism puts us in a position where we receive the benefits of Jesus’ death, it is there that we receive the forgiveness of sins obtainable because of the death of Jesus (Acts 2:38). In baptism, we die to the old self and put on the new man (Rom 6:6; Col 3:3). Baptism marks a complete separation from our sinful lifestyle – we are different people after our baptism than before it. We were buried with him through baptism – This shows baptism was always immersion in the New Testament; burial clearly shows that. We were raised with him to walk in newness of life – As Jesus was raised from the dead, we also, are raised from the deadness of sin to walk with Christ in a new lifestyle.
Baptism reminds us of Jesus’ death. Baptism reminds us that Jesus’ death was necessary to redeem us from sin (Mt. 26:28). Baptism reminds us that Jesus’ death was necessary so that we could live for him – which we are pledging to do in baptism (2 Cor. 5:15). Baptism reminds us that Jesus’ death was necessary to present us holy, blameless, and above reproach before him (Col. 1:22).
Early Christians called baptism a “sacramentum,” which is the Latin word for the Roman soldier’s oath of absolute devotion and obedience to his general. In being baptized, we are pledging absolute devotion and obedience to Jesus Christ. Have you been baptized? Have you pledged absolute devotion and obedience to Jesus Christ?
A Christ-Like Life, 1 Peter 2:21
“Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow in His steps.” A Christ-like life is a memorial to Christ- he died for us so that we could follow in his steps. This is the only place in the New Testament where Jesus is depicted as “suffering” for us, rather than dying for us. But, in other places in the NT, Jesus’ death is depicted as suffering.
- “He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things” (Mk. 8:31).
- “How is it written concerning the Son of Man that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt?” (Mk. 9:12).
The cross was a horrible experience. Crucifixion was not some little exercise in holiness, but crucifixion was an excruciatingly painful experience. Before one was crucified, he was beaten senseless. Nails were driven through his hands and feet and he was hurled into the air. The one being crucified was hung in such a way that it made breathing difficult and he suffocated.
In dying for us, Jesus left us an example that we should follow in his steps.
- “Example” literally refers to the pattern letters by which school children learned to write. The letters of the alphabet were written at the top of a tablet, and the children were to imitate those letters and thus learn how to make them for themselves. The children needed to follow these letters carefully if they were to learn to write.
- The word “follow” is the picture of a guide leading one down a very rocky path. This path was so difficult that one actually had to put his feet in his guide’s footprints.
We are to live a Christ-like life. After Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, he told them, “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done” (Jn. 13:15)-Jesus was telling the disciples to imitate his service. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 Jn. 2:6). Are you striving to live like Jesus?
There are many ways we might remember our loved ones who have died. We place a monument at the grave and place flowers there. We have pictures placed in prominent places so that we see that picture and it sparks a special memory. We may give a gift to a charity in his name.
There are ways we remember Christ’s death as well – the Lord’s Supper, baptism, and a Christ-like life. Have you remembered Christ’s death in baptism? Do you remember it through the Lord’s Supper and a Christ-like life? Do you need to start doing so today?