This morning we are taking Communion together and I want to share some thoughts with you in this vein of thought. The Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples is a story full of beauty and betrayal. There is the preparation of the meal and the gathering of the disciples and Jesus, John even lays back on Jesus’ chest. There was a sense of intimacy and wonder, but the religious leaders had also plotted with Judas to betray Jesus. In the midst of this Jesus is focuses on the cross before and prepares the disciples for what is coming. He takes bread and wine to help the disciples understand what is coming. Of course, they don’t fully comprehend what is happening because of the “mystery” surrounding the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The key verse this morning is found in Col 1:27 – “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Over the past 10 years I have been involved with the Saskatoon Evangelical Minister’s Fellowship and part of my experience there has been on a subcommittee with Catholic and Evangelical leaders. We have spent time in discussion regarding theology and practice and what we agree or don’t agree on. We have prayed together and over all the experience has been a wonderful time of learning and fellowship together in the Spirit of Christ and unity.
One of the areas of disagreement is that of Communion. The Catholics believe the elements (bread wafer and wine) become the literal body and blood of Christ. “The moment the priest or bishop says the words of consecration—the words of Christ at the Last Supper, "This is my body," and "This is my blood," (Matthew 26:26-29)—Catholics believe that the bread and wine become the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ. The theological word used to describe this change is ‘transubstantiation.’ In partaking in Communion, Catholics engage in life, experiencing the very grace of God. John 6:53 is a key verse for the Catholics to support this belief - “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
In contrast, Evangelicals wouldn’t have the same thinking about Communion. The main difference is this - many Evangelicals think of Communion in symbolic terms where believers remember and contemplate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and anticipate his second coming. In doing so the Lord’s Supper points to Christ, whose body was broken for us for healing and whose blood was shed to assure forgiveness and salvation for believers and to establish the new covenant. Through the Last Supper, the church identifies with the life of Christ given for the redemption of humanity and proclaims the Lord’s death until he comes. The supper expresses the unity of all believers with Christ and expresses a sober remembrance of Jesus death, celebration and praise for his resurrection, and the strengthening of believers for true discipleship and service.
The main point I want to make here is simple this – it is not our theology of Communion that saves us or makes us right before our Father in heaven. There is a mystery surrounding Communion and this mystery is all about Jesus Christ. No matter your theology or religious practice regarding Communion the key is to connect with Christ in you the hope of glory.
Col 1:27 – Christ in you
In the context of Communion, the statement, “Christ in you” is simple and profound. As believers in Christ, we receive the Spirit of God and Christ at the moment of conversion. Simply put, conversion is turning towards the person and Spirit of Jesus Christ where you believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for your sins and rose again which is the focal point of Communion. Genuine conversion leads to a lifestyle of trust and obedience, repentance and forgiveness – God’s grace and mercy alive and active in the new life of the child of God.
A parallel passage of Scripture is found in Romans 8:10-11 – “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” The Spirit of God and Christ are used interchangeably in the preceding verses. This tells us that when the Holy Spirit of God and Christ live in you – you become alive and the life of Christ in you brings life and healing to your mortal bodies.
Can you imagine for a moment, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – Harry and Meghan – are coming for a visit. We would want them to have the very best, we would be on our best behaviour. When they travel they stay at the best hotels and receive royal treatment.
Let’s take a moment and consider the fact that the King of the Universe is not coming for just a visit but to take up residence in our lives, not in a Five Star hotel, but in you and me. We have the treasure of Heaven in earthen jars (2 Cor 4:7), imperfect but converted saints who are being transformed by the indwelling of Christ in you. This is fantastic.
Col 1:27 – the hope of glory
The second point of this morning’s message is the hope and glory, two uplifting words. The Bible tells us that hope is a sustaining aspect of our Christian walk. Faith, hope and love are three companions of Christian life and that love springs from hope. Hope produces joy and peace in the life of believers (Rom 15:13).
However, we live in a fallen world where are hope can be deferred, withheld or delayed (Prov 13:12). The devil goes after hope with a vengeance, because hope is such a powerful force. If he can steal your hope, he can set you on the path to total despair and depression. He will work hard to plant thoughts like these in your mind:
· “You have always been this way. You will never change.”
· “You will never succeed!”
· “No one will ever want to marry you.” Or “Your marriage is going to fail.”
· “Your children will never amount to anything.”
· “You will not have enough money for retirement.”
We must remember that Christ in YOU is the hope of glory. There is nothing that the Spirit of Christ in YOU can’t heal, forgive, redeem, or restore. This is why it is important to fight for the hope of glory in YOU. We don’t need to fight to attain the Canadian dream materialistically. We don’t need to fight and strive to get ahead in life. But it is important to submit to God and resist the lies of the devil when it comes to your hope of glory.
Christ in you is the hope of glory. As we come to take Communion together let’s remember the life of Jesus – “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:6-8)
In order for Jesus to be glorified he had to fulfill his purpose on earth as the Suffering Messiah. He let go of his Canadian dream, so to speak, in not hanging onto equality or his place in heaven. The Creator became human and a servant at that, not a ruling victorious King. Humility and laying down one’s life are chief strategies when fighting for the hope of glory to be fulfilled in your life. The Scripture goes onto say that Jesus was then exalted to the highest place where every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil 2:9-11). What a privilege to know Christ – King of Kings and Lord of Lords – and the indwelling of his Presence and Glory.
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Matt 26:26-30).