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Apr 23, 2017 | Joshua Claycamp

Matthew 26:14-29 ~ "Judas and Communion"

Turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew. We're not going to just be looking at Matthew 26 this morning; we are also going to be looking quite a bit at 1 Corinthians chapter 5


Before we dive in and as it is our custom, it would be good for us this morning to ask for the Lord's help to open our eyes and to open our hearts to receive by faith those things which he is going to speak to us through his word this morning.


I'm going to pray and ask for God's help this morning. Lord, we ask that you would just open our eyes by your spirit to receive with faith those things which though clearly spoken, can only be truly understood and truly believed by your help. Lord, we asked that you help us believe Father. This morning as we look specifically at Christ's response to Judas’ betrayal with an act of sacrifice and with the symbol of communion, I pray God that the meaning of this symbol and the transformative effect that it will have on our lives would be clearly understood. I pray Lord that this morning you would work in the hearts of your people to giving themselves to fellowship with you, by your blood and ultimately to each other through communion. We pray that you would do this work by your spirit this morning. In the name of Christ we pray, Amen.


A number of years ago I was getting on a plane to travel somewhere and because I had booked my seat late I didn't get my choice of seats. I ended up with the dreaded middle seat. You don't have a window and you're stuck between two total strangers and you are at their mercy if you need to go the restroom or somebody has to climb over the top of you. I thought “I'm just going to put on my brave face and I'm just going to make the best of it, but it got even better. As I was making my way down the aisle of the aircraft with my tow behind luggage, I observed sitting in the seat on the aisle what I presumed to be a Buddhist monk. He was wrapped in the bright orange outfit; his head was shaved totally bald. In the window seat was what I presumed to be somebody who had not left the 60s. It was an individual who was clearly a hippie, he had the bright tie-dye shirt of rainbow colours and they were already engaged in a conversation which I was excited about, but not at all sure I was going to jump into it. This is not a joke. I know it sounds like a joke; “one time on a plane a Baptist, a Buddhist and a hippie sat together.” I know what you're thinking, but this actually happened! The hippie and the Buddhist are dialoguing and the Buddhist is sharing with the hippie fellow about transcendental meditation and the hippie fellow was saying “you know what would make that even better is if you did that with some marijuana” as he was promoting the use of cannabis. So, I stowed my overhead luggage and I sat down and I'm thinking “Lord, this is going to be really interesting. How is this next few minutes is going to go?” Of course they are are dialoguing back and forth and we are all buckling up in those really narrow seats they put you in and we are trying not to touch each other. Eventually the inevitable question comes. First there are the preliminary instructions and then “tell me, what you do for a living?” In that moment I knew that the Lord was going to do something through this conversation. I didn't know what, but I knew it was going to be interesting. So I said “I am a pastor” and so then there is a long awkward 30 second silence and eventually they resumed their conversation talking about those different practices that they engage in to alleviate stress and to reassure themselves that everything is going to be okay. Whether it is the employment of marijuana or whether it be meditation they began to share in dialogue over their respective distances regarding their religious beliefs. At some point the hippie turns to me and says “how about you Pastor? What do you do?” Now, all kinds of answers come to mind in that moment such as prayer, Scripture reading, being together with the Lord's people in his church. I don't know why in that moment the statement that came to me just as a knee-jerk reaction was “I give myself to communion.” I don't know why said that. There is any number of different answers that would've been just as exactly appropriate, but I said “I give myself to communion.” This prompted the dialogue “What do you mean you give yourself to communion? What do you mean by that? What is happening when you partake of communion?”


Now, I gave that answer, but I'm not sure why that was the thing that came off of my lips. In the years that have intervened between then and now I'm convinced that it was the right answer. You see, the discussion that was unfolding between these two individuals was on a ridiculous level. The matters of the heart and soul were being discussed as though these are simple preferences; whether or not you like vanilla ice cream as opposed to chocolate ice cream or whether or not your favourite colour is blue as opposed to green, as though these spiritual practices that we are engaging in, being the employment of cannabis or transcendental meditation, are simple matters of preference and that they are all true in the sense that you have to find what works for you. So, when the question was posed and I said communion, I knew there was going to be a conversation which would follow in which I would be charged before the Lord to speak on his behalf and to say at the end of the day that this is not to discussion about personal preference. You're not getting your druthers here. This is about what is true and what is false. Christ is true. The communion of the saints is real and the blessing that flows out of this fellowship and what happens at the Lords table is the only thing that matters in the final analysis. Everything else that we can grab onto, every other thing that we can turn to is a lie. As I entered into this conversation with these two individuals I want to be very careful to articulate that what I'm talking about is not a matter of personal opinion or preference - it is truth.


That conversation at its deepest level was spiritual warfare. Will we honour and recognize what was true or will we allow ourselves to think and to suggest to each other that is all just a matter of personal preference?


That conversation has a lot in common with what Jesus is doing here in Matthew chapter 26. As we look at Matthew 26 we look at what's unfolding between Judas and Jesus and the plans that Judas has to betray Jesus and the ultimate plans that Christ has to voluntarily go to the cross on our behalf as well as his response to Judas's betrayal with the offering of communion, we find spiritual warfare at its deepest darkest and most sinister. We find grace being offered richly and freely, but we also find a decision. There is a confrontation that happens here where the individuals involved have to come to a final verdict. Will we do what is true or will we do what we prefer to do? That's what Jesus is getting at here. Look with me at these 12 apostles. The passage talks about this account that happens. We preached on it a couple weeks ago in which the expensive ointment/the jar of perfume was shattered and Jesus' body was anointed with it. Of course, right after that the Scriptures say that Judas from that point forward went out and he made plans in order to betray Jesus. He went to the chief priests and the temple and the Pharisees and he made plans with them that for 30 pieces of silver he's going to betray Jesus. The Gospel of John chapter 12 records also records this as the same sequence of events that unfolded. John reports that Judas used to help himself to the money that was in the money bag and that as a result, when he saw this expensive $30,000 perfume broken, he knew that he was going to be short changed. The only motivation that we really have from the scriptures is that as a result of his financial loss, Judas determines in that moment that he's going to betray Jesus. They come now to Passover which is the 14th of Nisan; a date which is mandated in the Scriptures and is a particular day in which they're going to sacrifice the Passover lamb. They're going to reflect on the fact that salvation and deliverance always comes at the cost of bloodshed. The lamb is symbolic of an innocent animal having to be given, an innocent life having to be given for our salvation. It is in the construct of this meal that the treachery is unmasked and that the opportunity for grace is given.


It says in Matthew 26:17 “Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover? He said, Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, The Teacher says, My time is at hand.” Jesus knows what is coming. It's very clear that the moment for which he was born has come. It is upon him and he knows it. Nothing is happening that Jesus is not fully aware of. At dinner that night he knows the conversation that is going to unfold between him and the disciples. He makes a statement of this is the house where I want this to happen and this is the place where I want these events to unfold. Go to this guy and say we are coming to your house and we are going to have the Passover there as the Teacher says “my time is at hand.”


Jesus demonstrates from start to finish that he is totally sovereign over everything that is about to unfold. What comes next in Matthew verse 19 is “the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.” It's interesting that the Jews from Galilee would've had a different way of reckoning time than Jews from Jerusalem. There would have been anywhere from 300,000 to 600,000 people flowing through the temple compound on the 14th of Nisan to slaughter lambs. Scriptures mandated that lambs had to be slaughtered at twilight which is a period of time at sunset. There would be no way to filter that many people through the temple compound and have these lambs properly slaughtered in that amount of time so it is good that they had a different way of reckoning the calendar. The Galilean Jews reckon their days from sunset to sunset the Jerusalem Jews reckon their days from sunrise to sunrise. This means that for the Galilean Jews, Passover's fell on a Thursday, but for the Jerusalem Jews the Passover fell on Friday. This is why we are able to say that Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples on Thursday yet he himself was also crucified on the holy day of Passover.


 He meets with his disciples and they make the preparations. It is Thursday evening and it says in verse 20 “When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” Judas is present. This is how convincing Judas is, when Jesus says “one of you is going to betray me,” not one of the 12 pointed at Judas saying “there's something weird about that guy.” Not one of them pointed the finger at him and said “oh I think it's that guy.” They were so assured and so convinced of each other's loyalty. They had all walked away from different careers, different occupations, they'd all left family behind and they had all put it on the altar to follow Jesus. He said “come follow me and I'll make you fishers of men” and they'd all done that. They had all gone on preaching assignments and they'd all been witnesses to miracles and they had seen amazing things happen. They were convinced not only of each other, but they were convinced of the Masters judgment. So, when Jesus says “one of you is going to betray me,” they don't know who it is. They are so certain of everyone else that when Jesus says “one of you is going to betray me,” the only logical conclusion they come to as they're sitting face-to-face with Christ is “it's gotta be me.” They began asking him them “is it me? Am I the one that's going to do this to you?” One by one they go around the room, so utterly assured of everyone else's loyalty and faithfulness that they question themselves first before they question the guy sitting next to them. Jesus says to them in Matthew verse 23 “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me.” Now he is about to institute communion in which a cup will be passed and in which bread will be broken, but before he does he identifies his betrayer.


As you read the gospel accounts it's evident that at least a few of the disciples saw what Jesus was referring to, but not all of them they did. Not all see what was about to happen. Jesus points out that this is the person who is going to do it and in the midst of all of them saying “is it me?” he hands the cup to Judas and Judas is dipping his bread. He's looking at Jesus along with everyone else saying “is it me?” but Judas knows it's him. He knows what he has just done. He knows the 30 pieces of silver that are jingling his pocket so when he says “is it me?” Jesus' response is “You have said so.”


Judas has been attributed with a whole range of motivations for why he is about to do this. People have said that Judas was misunderstood. People have said that Judas was trying to force Jesus' hand and that Judas knew that Jesus was the Messiah and that Jesus wasn't asserting his kingdom fast enough for Judas’ purposes. All kinds of motivations and all kinds of reasons have been attributed as to why Judas betrayed Jesus. At the end of the day the only sort of guess we can make is that he was in it for the money. He felt he got short changed and he was ticked off so he was looking for a way to make up that financial difference. That's the best guess we can make at the end of the day. Judas’ approach to his relationship to Jesus is this - I'm going to do what's best for me, I'm going to do what benefits me and if it should happen to cost you, oh well. So be it.


Judas is looking out for number one, himself. It poses an interesting ethical dilemma for all of us. You see, this is the age old conflict between good and evil and all of us get dragged into this at some point of time or another. All of us are guilty at some point or another of doing something that we know harms another person, but we do so because it will benefit us and even though we know its wrong we justify it. I pose an interesting question to you. If you were on with nine or ten other guys in the middle of the ocean stranded, say you're on the lifeboat. There's no power, there's no engine, and you’re stuck in the middle of the ocean. There are you and 9 other guys and you're going to die in the middle of the ocean because there's no water to drink and there's no food to eat. Do you embrace death? Do you say, okay this is just the cards that we've been dealt and were all going to die together, all 10 of us? Or, do you at some point start whispering with the guy next you and start plotting if the 9 of us kill that one person we could eat him and survive a little longer. An interesting ethical dilemma don't you think? Now immediately as your posed this question you say “that's ludicrous I would never do that.” You may not and I pray that you wouldn't, but if you are in that situation then you are being confronted with the classic battle between good and evil.


You can justify it any number of different ways. You could say we are all created in the image of God, life is precious and because life is precious we have to do what we need to do to sustain life and ultimately 9 living guys and one dead guy is better than 10 dead guys. It would be better for some of us to live then that all of us should die. You could justify it that way. We were all created in the image of God, we are all precious so let's just draw straws and see who the unfortunate soul is that has to die in order for the rest of us to survive.


Or you could look at it this way, we are all precious and we are all created in the image of God; therefore, all life is sacred and holy and so none of us has the right to kill or take the life of another even if it does advantage us or benefit us in some way. The question could be re-framed this way, do you have 10 noble dead heroes or do you have nine living cannibals. Which is better, 10 dead heroes are nine cannibals? You know the Scriptures answer to that question? 10 dead heroes are always better than nine living cannibals. What is right and wrong never changes and murder is universally prohibited and Scriptures. So to harm another person for your own benefit despite your circumstances is always condemned by the word of God.


Judas is not even in any kind of dire circumstance, but Judas's assessment is that there are these religious guys that are openly plotting about murdering Jesus, I just got short changed some money, I need that money, I need what will benefit me and so I'm going to help these religious guys get a hold of Jesus. It would appear that Judas is in control of the situation, but he is not. Look at what Jesus says in verse 24 “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!” Jesus is saying I go no matter what. The word of God has foretold this moment. Jesus is himself God so he knows what is about to happen and he is very clear, no matter what happens tonight I'm going to the cross. It's going to happen, no one forces me to do this, and I go of my own accord, but woe to that man who betrays me. We have here the conflict between good and evil at its rawest form. Judas is saying, I only care about you to the extent that you will benefit me and Jesus is saying I go for all humanity. I care about all of you, I love all of you and I give myself up for all mankind that all may be forgiven of their sins. Jesus is here to give for the sake of us and all Judas is here for is to take for himself. That is the difference between utilitarianism and pragmatism; using people for our own purposes verses do we truly love people the way that Christ did. Jesus is saying I go of my own accord, but woe to that man. Now Judas knows what he is about to do and if you recall the plan that was hatched between him and the religious leaders was not to do it during Passover. They said, let's wait until after the holidays lest there be an uprising. They wanted to the crowds in the city to dissipate and they wanted people to go back home to where they were from. They knew that Jesus was popular as just the week before he comes into Jerusalem riding on a donkey and people are praising and shouting his name and worshiping him. The religious leaders are upset because they know he is well-liked so they want to do this quietly. But Jesus is in control and his statement to Judas is this: “You are the one who's going to do this.” Judas’ question is “Is it me?” and Jesus says “you have said so.” Now Judas has already plotted with the Pharisees and the chief priests to wait until after Passover, but as soon as Jesus says to Judas “you're the guy” Judas knows he's going to have to accelerate his plans. Jesus unmasks Judas when he says, I know exactly what you doing and he gives him an invitation. He gives him an opportunity to participate in the new covenant. Judas is confronted with the decision to betray Jesus or not to betray Jesus. There is an offer for something that is presented and from here Jesus moves into communion.


Look at what he says as they were eating, verse 26 “Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took a cap and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.” Coming face-to-face with the cruelty of Judas, Jesus now offers communion. It's a symbol that we observe here every month here at first Baptist on the second Sunday of every month. Now, I said it's a symbol because it's very clear as Jesus is enacting this right, this ordinance among his disciples that it is not literally his flesh. It is not literally his blood, contrary to popular interpretation, Jesus is still alive sitting with them at the table so when he holds up the cup and says “this is my blood” or when he holds the bread and he said “this bread is my flesh” he is still sitting right there. The flesh is still on his body; his blood is still inside him. It's not literal, it's figurative, and it’s metaphorical. In this understanding we say that communion is a symbol and when I say that communion is a symbol I don't want you to understand it as though it is just a symbol. It is true that what we do when we partake of communion is symbolic, but to say that it is just symbolic and that there is no spiritual power in the act of communion is a lie.


When we get married, generally we all put rings on our fingers do we not? Now the wearing of a ring, as any man or woman who has been married for any length of time will tell you, shapes you. I was married when I was 21 and if you look at my right hand you probably see that the ring finger is pretty fat at the knuckle, but if you look my left hand you can see there is an indelible impression on my wedding ring finger. You can see where a ring sits and if you were to compare you will see that the right ring finger is fat at the knuckle and the left finger is thin at the bottom. You see, when I got married when I was 21 both my fingers were skinny. I've been wearing the same ring for 15 years now and as my fingers have gotten fatter with age except the left one hasn't because it's bound by a ring. Is my marriage just a matter of a gold band on my finger? No, absolutely not. Is the ring just a symbol of a decision that I've made? Yes it absolutely is, but on a pure physical level there's no denying that the embracing of the symbol has literally changed my body. It has altered me and it has shaped me in the same way that partaking of the symbol of communion changes you. Number one it changes you on a physical level. You have to be here the second Sunday of every month to partake of communion. Your presence and your time have to be planned in order to embrace the symbol, but on a whole another level it's changing you spiritually. When I proposed to my wife I knew that there was going to be a ring and I knew that the moment I said yes to Shanti I was saying no to every other woman that would ever exist. I knew that the moment that I gave my life to being married to her. I was in that same moment making a declaration to all the other ladies out there that I'm no longer available. What if I were to say to my wife “I'll marry you, but I'm not going to wear a ring because I don't want people to know I married.”

Isn't that a romantic proposal? Do you think she would say yes to that? Of course not. As I'm contemplating all of the ramifications of this decision, the choosing changes me. Did you guys hear that? The choosing changes me. The deciding divides me from another path such that my heart and my soul and even my physical body are now going down one path when they could've gone down another path. To choose to marry Shanti comes with a symbol and the embrace of that symbol the embrace of that marriage alters me spiritually. It just does. And in the same way participating in the symbolic act of communion, the choosing to do it, to give yourself to it changes you; it absolutely does.


There are all manner of things that we can pursue in this life to alleviate stress. We can try eastern meditation as it's becoming increasingly popular these days. We could turn to things like marijuana and other chemical stimulants to eliminate stress to take the edge off so to speak. Whether you try to empty your mind or whether you try to distort your perception of reality, whatever gimmick you turn to or whatever solution you reach for to try to make your situation better, the reality remains the same. Your situation is what it is and the only thing that can save, you the only person who can save you is Jesus Christ. And, the only hope you have both now and for eternity is what Jesus did for you on the cross. To embrace that and to choose that, to say yes to Jesus will come with two tasks. One of them will be done once in your life and the other one will be done repeatedly, routinely, regularly until the day you die. The first is obviously baptism, that initial decision, the commitment that you're making. Following that baptism is what Jesus gives us here in communion. In 1 Corinthians 5:3 Paul is writing to the church of Corinth. He's very clear that what is happening here is not an individual thing, it is a corporate thing. It is not isolated to you as a person. It is something that you participate in as a person along with all those around you which means that you have an intimate individual responsibility and those around you also have an individual responsibility; all of us together have a commitment to celebrate this act, this symbol in a certain way. Paul is telling the church at Corinth they have an unrepentant person that is there, that is not committed to living his life for Christ and he says they need to remove that person from their church and the justification he gives for this is communion “When you are assembling in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus.” Verse 6 “You're boasting is not good.” Now everything that he is about to say at this point has to do with Passover. It has to do with the practice of communion. Communion comes within the context of Passover. Now, one of the things that was clearly emphasized in the celebration of Passover was the Jews were required to go throughout their entire home and they were to sweep and clear way all of the leaven, all of the yeast, that was in their home. They were to celebrate Passover with unleavened bread and the symbol of this was that leaven represented sin. Any amount of sin in your life right would work corrupt your life and it would take you over. The practice of Passover was symbolic of receiving God's salvation for what God has done, by a heart that was prepared to sweep away sin; that is to repent. That's what Paul's alluding to here. He makes a statement in verse 6 “You're boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven, leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump as you really are unleavened. For Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the Festival not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Paul’s statement here in 1 Corinthians is that as we practice communion, as a church, we step away from our old life and we continuously walk in the new life that Christ has purchased for us. It's not that we are perfect when we partake of communion. The Scriptures are clear that none of us will be perfect this side of heaven, but it does mean that none of us are living in blatant unrepentant sin. It does mean that none of us are wilfully engaging in disobedience.


Now I've heard so many sermons over the course of the years in which people said that Judas was not present for this communion and that when Jesus did the first communion he instituted the Lord's Table and that Judas wasn't there. The primary reason for that is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians chapter 5. Paul is explicitly clear we are to maintain a pure church. It is to be pure as possible. That is not to say that we will be sinless or perfect, but that we will knowingly remove from that fellowship any individuals who are wilfully unrepentant and blatantly engaging in sin and that these individuals are not permitted to partake of communion because communion is a holy act. It is a pure act. Paul explicitly taught this in 1 Corinthians. Now, with that understanding sometimes we make the assumption as a result that when Jesus is confronting Judas on the night that he is to be betrayed and he institutes the Lord's supper that Judas was not present and that Judas had already left, but I just want to hold up the Scriptures and point out in Luke account of Passover in chapter 22:20-23 “And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with men on the table, For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” Did you notice that expression? In the midst of holding forth communion and in the midst of offering the cup of the new covenant, the cup of Christ’s blood, in the midst of that Jesus says behold the man who is going to betray me. “His hand” with the present tense verb “is” with me on the table. Judas was there. He didn't leave early. Jesus' statement to Judas was, you're going to betray me the Son of Man goes. I go. Jesus goes voluntarily, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed. As soon as he says that he takes some bread. Judas is sitting right there and he breaks it, no doubt going around the room looking at each disciple one by one saying “this is my body which I and giving for you” perhaps coming last of all to Judas and breaking it and handing it over. They go around and they all take it. He has on multiple occasions said that he would be crucified and raised on the third day. He has now made a statement to Judas which is going to force Judas's hand and make Judas go early to fetch the guards to come and have Jesus arrested. He is in total control, he is in total authority of the situation and he is looking eyeball to eyeball with the one who is to betray him and he is saying “I do this for you.” In the same way that he takes and say this is my blood the blood of the covenant which is for you. Here is the question, as we come face-to-face with this most pivotal moment will we side with those who would use Jesus and abuse him and do away with him for their own selfish purposes or will we repent of our utilitarian mercenary ways in which we just use people for our own ends and will side with Christ who gives of himself voluntarily for the blessing of all those around us? That's the question that is presented in communion. It's just a symbol, but it is not just the symbol. It is symbolic, but it's a confrontation that happens every time we partake of it. All of us find ourselves here, every time we participate in communion, face-to-face with Christ. Are we using people like Judas? Or are we being transformed by the grace of Christ to love people, to tell them the truth, and to point out that the victory was ultimately won by Christ on the cross. You notice what he says here in Matthew verse 27 “He took the cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them saying, Drink of it, all of you.” Jesus' statement is to do this. He goes voluntarily. No one forces him to go though he is betrayed, though the chief priests do put a through a kangaroo court and a mock trial in which no wrong can be found and though the world will seek to crucify Christ, Jesus is in total control and he gives himself voluntarily. He goes to the cross of his own free will. He says if you want to have salvation you have to do receive what he is done for you on the cross. There are lots of things we can do to kind of relax the muscles in our back. There are lots of different things we can do to take the stress off of our day-to-day lives. There are lots of things we can do to get away from the difficulty of our present circumstances, but none of those changes anything. You may feel a sense of guilt or conviction over the wrongs that you've committed in your life. In seeking to escape that guilt you may turn to things like marijuana or going on elaborate extended vacations or transcendental meditation, but none of that changes reality. You can escape the stress in the moment, but you will never escape the final judgment. Jesus’ command today for you and me is that we would turn to him knowing that our guilt puts him on the cross; nevertheless, he goes there freely for us. To save us.


I bet you are wondering what the end result of that conversation was; a Baptist, a Buddhist and a hippie are sitting on an airplane. I wish I could tell you that I preached like Billy Graham and they got saved and there's was a revival that broke it on the airplane, but that did not happen. I wish I could tell you that it was even a pleasant conversation where we went back and forth and I said you guys are wrong and you're deceiving yourselves from the ultimate reality that we will all face and that they were like you're right we should turn to Jesus, this is a great idea. They didn't say that either. All I can say to you about what happened that day is that I was deathly terrified of talking about ultimate salvation in terms of it just something I believe to be what's true for me. I was afraid of talking about it as though it was a matter of personal preference such as I like the colour blue or I prefer vanilla ice cream. By God's grace I said “I turn to communion, I give myself to the church and ultimately give myself to Jesus Christ and that I come to Him day by day, week by week for His salvation. I was scared to say to them that if you do not also participate in the receiving of God's grace by faith, by what Jesus did for us on the cross you won't make it. That's as pointed as I got. To which they then responded exactly as you've expected them to, “I'm glad that you found what works for you.”


Church spiritual ware fare is what is happening in communion. When we give ourselves to communion and when we give ourselves to coming together as a church body, when we give ourselves to reminding each other time and again that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we are making a statement and it calls for a final verdict. It is not a matter of personal preference. The only question that matters is “will you receive Jesus Christ?” Let's bow for word of prayer.


Father, we thank you. We thank you for what you've done for us by sending your son to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Lord, we remind ourselves time and again and of this truth, that we are to choose you. I pray God that your communion would have its affect on our lives and that we would be shaped by it, that we would be moulded by it, that it would transform us and that it would be a means that you would use to bring about rejuvenation and renewal. Lord, as you say in your word, every time we partake of this communion we proclaim your death until you return. Alternately, this is a statement that calls for a final decision. This is a statement that we make as a church that calls for a verdict to be reached and a conclusion to be had. We pray God that we would be faithful, that we would lift high the name of your son and that the world would be forced to choose one way or another. Lord if there is any here today who think that they don't have to be gathered together with the people, that they don't have to give themselves to the celebration of communion, that they don't have to give themselves to the receiving of Your grace ultimately in their life, I pray God that you change their mind. I pray Lord that you would open their hearts and pray Lord that they would receive your son by faith. It's in Christ name that we pray, Amen.

Series Information

The Gospel of Matthew is a story about a once and coming King. Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of David, the long awaited for Messiah. He has come once, and Matthew tells the story of His arrival, ministry, sacrificial atoning work on the cross, and His promise to return soon.

Other sermons in the series