“This is My body, which is given for you. Do this to remember Me.” (Luke 22:19b NLT)
Today’s post began as a letter to an inmate who was wrestling with why Jesus would introduce Communion (The Lord’s Supper) and Baptism. He seemed to think Jesus’ whole point was to do away with the law and its many rules and regulations. Shouldn’t the emphasis be on grace and not ritual? With some revision, this is my response.
One of the primary reasons Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper (Communion) is so that we never forget the price that was paid for our redemption (see yesterday’s post). As human beings we’re so prone to forget things that are important. That’s why we exchange wedding rings when we get married, get birth certificates, titles for cars, deeds for homes, and so forth. These serve as reminders of important milestones in our lives. Communion and Baptism give us points of reference, something we can always look to for affirmation that the faith we have is real and is anchored in something tangible (The sacrifice of Jesus’ life and the shedding of His priceless blood).
Communion reminds us that apart from Jesus we’re nothing. Every time we participate, we’re reminded of the price that God was willing to pay for our forgiveness and new life in Jesus. It’s easy for us, as we grow in the Lord, to forget how far we’ve come, and to begin to take credit for things we learn, and habits we’re able to put behind us, by God’s grace alone. We can get arrogant when we see others who aren’t as far along as we are, and rather than extend a helping hand, we can become critical of their lack of progress.
Communion reminds us that the precious, priceless blood of Jesus, while of incalculable worth, was a price Jesus was willing to pay to purchase the privilege for us to be God’s child. It’s not a worthless ritual, it’s a much needed reminder to me and every Christ-follower, to hold on tightly to the only lifeline we have to God and any hope of eternal life. It reminds us that we’re all sinners saved by grace, and we need each other. That’s one of the many reasons we receive Communion together, as one Body.
Similarly, Baptism by immersion is an outward, visible symbol of an inward and invisible transaction that occurred between us and God the moment we received Jesus as our Savior and began our walk of faith with Him. In Romans 6 Paul paints for us a picture. He speaks of the fact that spiritually, we died to sin when we invited Jesus to become the Lord of our life. We traded our sin for His righteousness, were cleansed of our sin, and we’re raised to new life in Christ alone.
When we’re lowered into the water, by faith it becomes a watery grave, giving visibility to what happened in us through the power of God’s Spirit. We die to self, then are raised from the water to give visibility to our determination to live a new life in Christ. It’s a public and visible illustration of a private and invisible transaction that took place between us and Jesus the moment our new birth began.
Ideally, we should be baptized when we first receive Christ, to enable us to give witness to friends and loved ones that have known the kind of life we once lived, and to give us support and encouragement as we learn to walk in new ways by faith in Jesus.
I hope that’s helpful. If anything isn’t clear or you have other questions or things about which I can pray for you, please let me know. You can reach me at: email@example.com.
Below is a link to a song by Hillsong that was recommended by a dear friend, and one I found very worshipful. Just click the link to listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDtT3UMHYBg (Hillsong “Remembrance”)
Blessings, Ed 😊