Every time we come to Communion we come according to Jesus in Luke 22:19 * to remembrance of me*. But what are we to remember? How are we to remember? Why are we to remember?
We understand that Communion originated as part of the Passover the night Jesus was betrayed by his treasurer.
The character of Judas is a difficult one. Jesus calls him *the son of Perdition* in John 17 ~ perdition being that state beyond redemption; one for whom there is no salvation. Only twice is this term used: once of Judas Iscariot & again of The Man of Lawlessness who will be revealed in the End Times.
It is possible to have experienced a certain closeness to God, to have a good understanding of salvation & yet, in the final analysis, to be told that you were not known to the saviour, not one of His flock.
Paul, instructing the Corinthian Church in participation in the Communion meal instructs:
So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.”
1 Corinthians 11:27~29
Elsewhere Paul explains:
Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5
We are to discern the body of Christ. There are 2 aspects to this. The first is the obvious: the bread representing Christ’s body which was broken for us, & the cup, representing His blood shed for us. The second is the ecclesia, the church, which is called the body of Christ. We need to recognise both things.
Today I want to focus on the 2nd thing, though that is not a separate thing from the first. We understand according to Romans 6:8 that since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.
Each of us, if we belong to Christ, has been buried with Him & are dead to sin. I would suggest to you one of the purposes of the communion meal was to keep believers in unity: unity with Christ & unity with each other.
Paul goes on to explain in 1 Cor11:6 that this failure to discern the Lord’s body is the reason why some are sick & others have died.
Now our large picture is Christ. We have Isaiah 53:5 showing us this picture of His death: But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
The cross dealt with our sin. It also dealt with our sicknesses. It is also, perhaps surprisingly, conditional. Matthew 6:14 ~ 15 says “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Jesus took our sickness & disease to the cross but our failure to forgive the people who sin against us, who hurt & betray us, can interfere with our ability to receive His healing. It is such a central aspect of life in Christ, Christ modelled it for us on the cross by petitioning His father for those who killed Him: Forgive them for they know not what they do…
Keep the big picture of what Christ did for you on the cross in mind then start filling in the details. John 15:7 If you abide in me, & my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, & it will be done for you.
Abide [Meno in the Greek] means to remain; it is a continuous, ongoing condition. If Christ is in you, you will recognise that Christ is also in your brother & sister & they too are in Christ; that you are in Christ together & together you make up the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12 makes it perfectly clear that believers belong to each other & [V25] This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other…If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.[V26]
The body cannot be at war with itself. A body at war with itself is sick.
It is imperative we keep a spirit of forgiveness alive & well. Forgiveness is not the same as trust. You can forgive & do your utmost to live at peace with everyone yet still remain cautious, modest, sober. For example you can forgive the drunk but you do not trust them with alcohol; forgive the gossip but not trust them with secrets; forgive the paedophile but not trust them with children.
When it comes to healing our physical ailments we need to examine ourselves. Are we harbouring unforgiveness? James 5:15 instructs us to confess our faults, & pray for one another that we might be healed. If we persist in harbouring an unforgiving spirit we open ourselves to spiritual consequences.
In Matthew 18 Jesus tells the story of a man who owed a great debt ~ & was forgiven it ~ yet failed to forgive another man who owed him little. For his failure in forgiveness he was handed over to the torturers. So too when we fail to forgive: We will be tormented with thoughts of what has been done to us & we will have no peace. Scripture teaches that we are to give that sin to Christ & access His forgiveness for others that resides within us for He Himself abides in us & we in Him.
Unforgiveness is not of Christ & thus grieves & quenches the Spirit of God within us. Worse, unforgiveness become chains of bondage when Christ came to set us free & a weapon of satan with which he can torment us. It hinders us as we work to reconcile a broken world to Christ. It impends healing for our bodies.
Having said that it is necessary to add a rider because most of us do not really understand what forgiveness is & thus fail to understand how to extend forgiveness to others. Firstly forgiveness, like love, is not an emotion; it is an act of the will. It has nothing to do with how we feel & everything to do with our attitude. It is a decision.
When we choose to forgive we choose to trust God with the other person’s offence knowing that God judges justly [1 Peter 2:23; That only God knows the state of another’s heart [Jeremiah 17:10]; that God works all things together for our good.[Romans 8:28]
When we choose forgiveness we choose to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. We give up our right to revenge. We give up our right to payback. We choose to give our pain & hurt over to the one who can heal us & trust Him for the end result.
Choosing to forgive is a decision but forgiveness is often a process that needs to be worked through. Our salvation is dependent on Christ & He will honour our attempts to walk in forgiveness even though we may struggle & find it difficult to fully forgive. Forgiveness is not becoming a doormat for abuse, nor is it allowing toxic people to continue to operate in our lives but it is letting go of our rights~ our right to get justice; our right to be recompensed; our right to see the offender get what they deserve.
In his book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren says:
Many people are reluctant to show mercy because they don't understand the difference between trust and forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past. Trust has to do with future behaviour.
Forgiveness must be immediate, whether or not a person asks for it. Trust must be rebuilt over time. Trust requires a track record. If someone hurts you repeatedly, you are commanded by God to forgive them instantly, but you are not expected to trust them immediately, and you are not expected to continue allowing them to hurt you.
Once we understand this it is easier to extend forgiveness.
Forgiveness is linked to how we view others & how we view others is linked to our physical bodies. Now not all sickness is linked to unforgiveness. All sickness is linked to satan because his agenda is to steal, destroy & kill. If we come into agreement with him through unforgiveness we open ourselves to attack from the evil one.
So as we prepare to partake of communion today we need to examine ourselves. If there is any unforgiveness in us we need to confess it & repent of it. We also need to recognise the body of Christ as expressed in our brothers & sisters in Christ understanding that we are to bear each other’s burdens in love. Lastly we are to recognise what Christ has done for us on the cross purchasing our freedom from sin & sickness.
Having done this we can approach communion with confidence knowing that whatever we ask in Jesus name He can & will accomplish for us because if you abide in me, & my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire & it will be done for you. Done is ginomai & it means to bring something into existence, to birth something. If you need healing today, ask. It is His delight to give good things to His children.