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  • Canby Christian Church

WHAT A BEAUTIFUL PICTURE

Updated: Dec 20, 2019


by Pastor Aaron Adame:

Both of our girls are learning how to read. The level they are at is more based on pictures than words. They see a picture, can discern the dominant feature of the picture, and then guess the word. It is a proven study method for learning to read. The old expression, “a picture says a thousand words” is at least partially true. In the case of my daughters, a picture communicates word, and it is our job to help them get there. This is the case with Communion (The Lord’s Supper).  Every week, in consistency with what we believe about our Sunday church gatherings, we receive the elements of Communion and partake together in giving thanks to God for what those elements represent; the body and blood of Christ. Along with worship, prayer, fellowship, and the study of God’s Word, we receive Communion to remember often the gift of Christ for our salvation and our need for daily grace from Him.  But just as is the case with reading a book based on its pictures, Communion speaks a word, not in word, but in demonstration and imagery. We are told in the gospel that Jesus, on the night before his betrayal and ultimate execution, sat down with His disciples to eat the Passover meal. It was at this meal Jesus instituted Communion. He took the bread and said, “This is my body,” and likewise He took the cup and said, “This is my blood.” These common elements were to serve as a tangible, visible reminder of the words and works of Christ in His death on the cross.  The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (26). This visible act is a proclamation. The Question is: what exactly does it proclaim? Here are several:  A New Covenant  Matthew’s gospel records these words: “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’”—Mt 26:26–28.  The blood of Christ is the guarantee of a better Covenant than the former covenants that God made with His people. It is a guarantee of forgiveness of sins for those who place their faith in Christ. Therefore, our receiving of the bread and the cup of Communion is a demonstration that we have believed in Christ, received Christ through faith, that His life has now become our life, and we draw life from Him as the guarantee of a better covenant.  A New Family  Sharing a meal with someone in most cultures is a gesture of acceptance and belonging. In the church, which is also referred to as the family of God, Communion makes the gospel visible that it is only through Christ that we belong and are accepted. And that by grace we are accepted, loved and valued. This is also why Paul writes the way he does in 1 Corinthians 11. The tone is corrective. Paul is upset that this church was not acting like a family during the meal. He then calls them to examine themselves on the basis of their faith and family. Communion is a great time for self-reflection and confession of wrongs toward God and others.  A New Hope Every week, we are troubled by life’s issues. And if we are being fully honest, those issues or not merely external—they are in us as well. Sin clings closely still (Heb 12:1), and to make sure that sin doesn’t become a foothold for the enemy or bondage once again, we need to weekly remember two things through Communion: that sin is costly and Jesus paid it all. When we reflect on the elements, we see the vileness of our sin. That it took the very life of God’s Son to atone for it. It is in this way that Communion helps us to see the wrong of our ways and to offer a better one, the way of life in Christ. There is no other hope than through Jesus.  This is why we take Communion every week. This is why we take it together. Jesus instituted communion because He knew that a picture says a thousand words. We are visual learners, and by God’s grace we have this ordinance of the church to serve as a reminder and celebration of what Christ has done for us.   

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