We took Communion on Sunday. Here are some thoughts that came out of that:
First some background. Paul’s epistle to the Romans is written to the Gentiles, Paul’s mission field. It presents a view of the gospel of Christ that is not tied to Old Testament scripture. Maybe you could say it is intended to reach the unchurched. Chapters 9, 10, and 11 are Paul’s desire for his people, the Jews, but most of the book is to the heathen.
The writer of Hebrews is unknown but somewhere in the long ago I read that many suspect it was written by Paul. Hebrews approaches the gospel from the viewpoint of the Jews and therefore in contains a lot of references to the Old Testament. So maybe we can say it this way. Romans is to the unchurched and Hebrews is to the churched.
Why do the churched need the gospel preached to them? Because we forget the gospel. We get all wrapped up in churchy stuff. We start trying to earn our way to heaven. We determine to be good enough. We know we can’t so we work hard to try to make up for our failures. We bring our sacrifices to God. The Jews knew a lot about this. They had been doing it for centuries.
The writer of Hebrews had this to say about sacrifices:
For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good
things to come and not the very form of
things, can never, by the same sacrifices
which they offer continually year by
year, make perfect those who draw near.
Otherwise, would they not have ceased to
be offered, because the worshipers, having once
been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?
But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Hebrews 10:1-4)
Compare this to the later verses about the sacrifice of Christ:
Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after
time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;
but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time,
SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,
waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.
For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:11-14)
So here’s what I thought as we took communion:
All of our trying to measure up, our sacrifice (the blood of bulls and goats) only serves to reinforce our failure, our shortcomings, our sin. They are a reminder of…
Our remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice, of His shed blood, of His work on the cross is instead a reminder, no, more than that, a celebration of…
Our communion with Him.