Remembering the Cross This Christmas

The holidays are upon us once again. Each year we are left wondering where the year went. As we close this year, I want us to reflect this month on the cross. A few weeks ago we observed the Lord’s Supper here at Grace for the first time since September’s hurricane. During that Lord’s Supper service we studied the section of 1 Corinthians 11 in which the Apostle Paul specifically addressed the abuses of the Lord’s Table in Corinth. For a few moments, let’s consider the importance of the Lord’s Supper.

I can still remember walking into Lebanon Wesleyan Church as a kid on the Sunday mornings when the funny table was placed at the front of the auditorium. The table was always covered with a white tablecloth. When I was young, seeing the white fabric draped over the table always confused me. My parents explained that these services were called “Communion;” I honestly didn’t find that explanation all that helpful. In my childhood I was never quite sure what “Communion” meant or why it mattered.

In full disclosure, my heart always sank when it was “Communion Sunday.” The word “Communion” meant two things to me as a child: first, it meant we would be asked to eat a piece of weird bread and drink a swig of juice from some little cups. In those days we had real glass cups that had to be washed. I always felt badly for the person responsible for cleaning all of them. More importantly, I had very little understanding what the imagery of the Lord’s Supper even meant. Second, and more problematic to me as a kid, when I saw the tablecloth covered table I knew that the service would be even longer than usual. I had too many important things to do Sunday afternoons--like watch football or play outside--to be at church an extra ten minutes.

There were times, usually during a Sunday evening service, when our church would put tables and chairs at the front of the auditorium where all of the congregation would sit. Because the Sunday night crowd was usually smaller, we were able to sit around the table and pass a huge loaf of bread around for everyone to take a piece. Personally, I liked “Communion” that way much better because I could at least get a big chunk of bread to eat. And, when we observed the Lord’s Supper around the tables, that was all we did. There was a song or two followed by a short testimony, and then... We ate some bread. Drank some juice. And called it a night.

Fortunately, I would soon come to understand what the Lord’s Supper was really all about. When I gained some comprehension about the imagery of Communion, my entire attitude changed.

Each spring my mother would direct our church’s Easter program. It was through acting in these programs that I learned what the whole bread and juice thing was about. It was through these dramatic presentations that I learned about the Passover, the Last Supper, Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, and what all this meant. As I grew older, I began to grasp the crucifixion and understand what those wafers and cups of juice represented. The more I understood the picture God gave the church, the more I looked forward to the Sundays when my church observed the Lord’s Supper. The imagery reminded me of Jesus dying on the cross for my sins, and I was thankful, even as a teenager, for what that signified. Even if the wafer tasted weird, it was representing the broken body of my Savior. Even if the juice wasn’t Welch’s, it still represented the blood of Christ.

Like so many other matters in the Christian life, the Lord’s Supper can easily become mundane, ritualistic, and empty. In 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 the apostle Paul addressed the abuses of the Lord’s Supper that were taking place in the Corinthian church. The Lord’s Supper was meant to be a time of unity in the church. Over time, however, the Corinthian church perverted the ordinance, and it became sinful because they were no longer honoring Christ while observing the Lord’s Supper. Paul warns the Corinthians that these abuses were a travesty to the gospel, and that they needed to correct their sinful behaviors immediately.

While Baptists view the Lord’s Supper as a time of remembrance instead of being efficacious for one’s salvation, this does not negate the importance of the ordinance. The Lord’s Supper is a reminder of what Jesus accomplished on the cross for you. This Christmas, let’s celebrate the birth of Christ. But let’s not forget His death on the cross. It wasn’t the birth of Jesus that paid the penalty for our sins. Our sins were washed away by the blood of the Lamb at His crucifixion. I hope you have come to place where you enjoy the Lord’s Supper, and use this beautiful ordinance to celebrate Jesus’s sacrificial sacrifice on your behalf.  

Have you overlooked the significance of the Lord’s Supper?

How often does your mind naturally dwell on Jesus’s sacrificial death on the cross?

This Christmas, remember that not only was Jesus born, but that He also died and rose again for you!

Jay Knolls