Devotional Communion Meditations
Study Guide, October 8, 2023
Pastor Clay Olsen
We’re going to slow it down and center our focus and reflections and meditations on the wonders of the Lord’s Supper. And as we do so we basically ‘enter into’ offering our ‘worship’ to our Lord Jesus in our awe and thanksgiving for what our God did in order that we could become reunited with our Maker and our Redeemer forever.
And we say, ‘enter into’, because ‘worship’ is not just something that we ‘only do’ in relation to our Lord and God…it is also something we ‘enter into’. We could think of worship as a place, or a state of mind, or more so, as an experience we have with our living and loving Lord and Savior. We think of how the Psalmist portrayed this experience with God in Ps 100:4-5 – “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.”
Ps 118:19-20- “Open to me the gates of righteousness; I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; The righteous will enter through it.” NASU
Sometimes we downplay the emphasis on ‘experience’ in our relationship with God because some people have elevated ‘experience’ over ‘truth’. They have made their subjective experience more important than the revelation of God through His Word. But once again, anything that is good can be misused or abused, and as a result, others then tend to not use it much at all. But as long as we are committed to Jesus, and as long as we are devoted to His words as ‘the way, the truth, and the life’, then we are both free and are invited by Jesus Himself to ‘experience His ways, to experience His truths, and to experience His life’ as we daily commune with Him and as we ‘enter into’ worship unto Him. That’s why we find the Psalmist also exhorting us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him! Fear the Lord, you His godly people, for those who fear Him will have all they need.” Ps 34:8-9 NLT
It is when we make the Christian faith more ‘academic’ than ‘experiential’ that we lose the necessary balance needed to both renew our minds and to also transform our lives. Remember, Jesus’ call to all His disciples was not to just think about Him, but to also follow Him, to walk with Him, to abide with Him, to experience life and do life together with Him. Even when Jesus introduced the Lord’s Supper to His disciples, He didn’t just say, “Remember Me from this”…no, He said “Do this in remembrance of Me”.
The whole of our Christian life is not just to be about what we know about Jesus, but also what we do about everything that we know about Jesus. When Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Gal 2:20-21 NASU…he wasn’t just talking about his new life in Christ, but also his new experience of Christ ‘living’ in him.
That’s another level of the Christian life that we are to seek to ‘enter into’. The Psalmist called it ‘walking on the high places with God’. Sadly enough, not a lot of Christians seek that…seek to ‘walk on the high places’ with God…seek to enter into a daily experience of worship of God and communion with God. But that’s what Jesus is calling us to do…and we do so as we ‘enter into’ our worship and devotion to the One who has ‘entered into’ our very lives when we opened that door of our heart and asked Jesus to come into our life and be our Lord and Savior.
Just think about that…the Spirit of Christ actually lives in you…lives in your spirit and soul. None of us deserved this gift of a new life in union with Christ. For as the Apostle Paul revealed for all people, for all time, in all places, and for all the world: Rom 3:21-30- “But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He Himself is fair and just, and He declares sinners to be right in His sight when they believe in Jesus. Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course He is. There is only one God, and He makes people right with Himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.” NLT
Christianity is the only religion in the world that teaches the hopelessness of sin, and the hopefulness of our Savior. I quote from Pastor Georg Gritter to say: “Remember, in sin we face: A question we cannot answer, A problem we cannot solve, A burden we cannot bear, A battle we cannot win, and a price we cannot pay. But our God saw our plight and recognized our hopeless condition, so He came to our rescue with the answer, the solution, the relief, the victory, and the sacrifice. The good news which Isaiah announced, and which has been more fully revealed to us, is this: The Lord, creator of heaven and earth, whose power is limitless, is the God of all grace. He is our deliverer, our strength, and our consolation.”1 It’s in remembering what our Savior did to eternally save us that we remember what we are to now do about entering into worship of our Savior and service for our Savior day after day.
One of the many unique things about Jesus was that He was not only our sinless sacrifice for our sins…He was also our great High Priest. It was the High Priest who offered the sacrifices for sins for thousands of years looking ahead to the coming of the final sacrifice of the Messiah. But in this case, the High Priest and the final sacrifice were one and the same!
Something that is often overlooked by many people is that many things which people use or often say have their origin in the Bible. Like, ‘to fall by the wayside’ is from the story of the Sower and the Seed, where some seed ‘fell by the wayside’. Then there’s ‘to go the extra mile’, from Jesus’ remarks to teach that we are to go above and beyond just what’s expected of us in our service for God and others. There is ‘the blind leading the blind’ from a charge of Jesus against the Pharisees about the futility of false teachers trying to teach and lead others. And then there is the use of the word ‘Scapegoat, a term often used when someone who is innocent of a charge gets charged anyway in order to get the guilty one off the hook.
Too bad that so many don’t really understand the powerful lesson from the original use of the Scapegoat, for then they might realize that they are the guilty ones that are being set free because of the final Scapegoat that God has provided for them. Notice in Lev 16:6-10- “Aaron will present his own bull as a sin offering to purify himself and his family, making them right with the Lord. Then he must take the two male goats and present them to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle. He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the Lord and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel. Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the Lord. The other goat, the scapegoat chosen by lot to be sent away, will be kept alive, standing before the Lord. When it is sent away to Azazel in the wilderness, the people will be purified and made right with the Lord.” NLT
Fascinating, right? Now both of the goats represented a sin offering. But while one emphasized the removal of the guilt of their sins, the scapegoat emphasized the removal of the shame of their sins. That was taken away into the wilderness never to be seen again, at least symbolically, for they could never be fully ‘taken away’ until the perfect sacrifice had been offered. In Hebrews we find this explained: Heb 10:1-7- “The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christ came into the world, He said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But You have given Me a body to offer. You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do Your will, O God—as is written about Me in the Scriptures.'” NLT
In the perfect offering by our perfect High Priest of the perfect sacrifice of Himself, we have both the guilt of our sins removed from us, and also the shame of those sins taken away from us, for Jesus is both our Lamb of God and our Scapegoat, who takes away our sins. It’s as God says to us: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Ps 103:12 And: “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.” Isa 43:25 NASB
How like our God…to forgive us for His own sake, even while He forgives us for our sake as well. He removes our guilt, and He takes away our shame. And thus, here in the presence of God we say along with Isaiah: “I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For He has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness.” Isa 61:10 NLT
And yet, also like Isaiah, even though we know that we are clothed in the garment of Christ’s salvation, dressed in His robe of righteousness, and stand before God as a saved son or daughter in our position in Christ, delivered from the penalty and power of sin, still, we know that in our practice, in our daily experience, we still face the presence of our sins and thus still need deliverance from even that. But friends, that’s when we need to also remember that Jesus is not only still our Savior…He is also still our Great High priest. Once again, Heb 7:24-25- “…but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore, He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” NASU Therefore, when we come to God confessing the presence of our sins, Jesus, our Great High Priest, intercedes on our behalf, and on the basis of His perfect sacrifice, and like that Scapegoat, Jesus takes away even the presence of our sins from the presence of God, who promises to never remember, or to never hold these confessed sins against us.
That’s why the Apostle John could say: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9-10 NASU And once again the call to us by our Great High Priest and Savior Himself is this: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Heb 4:14-16 NASU
And this is why we ‘enter into’ worship of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. We experience this ‘remembrance’ of the Lord’s Supper at special times throughout the year, but we are to experience the ‘communion’ with our Lord and Savior, day after day.
Luke 22:19-20 – “After He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” NASU
- George Gritter, Communion Meditations, p.63