The Encourager

The Encourager

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"Do This in Remembrance of Me"; by Jeff Curtis

Saturday, April 16, 2022

“Do This in Remembrance of Me”

by Jeff Curtis

 

Years ago, there was a TV show called “You Are There.” Each week, some historical event was reenacted and the viewer, in effect, taken back to that occasion and put into the action. Something similar occurs each Sunday as we gather around the Lord’s table.

 

The Lord’s Supper is essential to our Christian experience. It was instituted by Jesus almost 2,000 years ago. The occasion was the Passover feast eaten by Christ and His apostles a few hours before He died, and the biblical account is found in Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and 1Corinthians 11.

 

Human beings forget so quickly! It’s for this reason we establish memorials, such as edifices and ceremonies, to stir our memories. The Bible tells us about God’s goodness (Gen. 9:8-17), Jacob’s stones that were intended to help him remember that God was with him (Gen. 28:10-22), the Passover feast which commemorated the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt (Exod. 12:14). Today, we erect tombstones at the graves of loved ones so that they will be remembered. Jesus, understanding that people soon forget, instituted the greatest memorial of all: the Lord’s Supper.

 

For that memorial, He could have chosen any material He wanted. Marble, precious metals, priceless jewels – all could have been used, because He is worthy of the most costly memorial ever constructed. However, He selected two of the most common elements on earth.

 

  1. The Bread. “While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a

blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat this is My body’” (Matt.26:26). Bread is perhaps the most universal food in existence; almost everyone everywhere eats bread. Wheat, the primary ingredient in most bread, is one of the most common grains on earth.

 

  1. The Fruit of the Vine. “And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He

gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it all of you… But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matt. 26:27-29).

 

In that time and place, “fruit of the vine” referred to the fruit of the grapevine. It might be noted that the Greek word for “wine” (oinos) is not used in the passages on the Lord’s Supper, but rather “fruit of the vine,” a term that includes grape juice. Grapes are also a common food term. Though not as universal as wheat, grapes can be purchased at most locations. Again, “the fruit of the vine” is fitting for this part of the communion service. Whether coincidental or not, the reddish tint of most grape juice strikes many Christians as appropriate to represent the blood of Jesus.

 

Biblical information indicates that the early church partook of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week. They met “to break bread” (Acts 20:7) “on the first day of the week” (1Cor. 16:2). The KJV just has “the first day of the week”; but since every week has a first day, the indication is for every first day. Since each Lord’s Day centered on the communion service, their observance must have been weekly. This conclusion is confirmed by uninspired Christian writers during the early centuries of the church. The historian John Mosheim wrote, “The Christian worship consisted of hymns, prayers, and reading the Scriptures, a discourse delivered to the people, and concluded with celebration of the Lord’s Supper.”

 

In conclusion, partaking of the Lord’s Supper each Lord’s Day is very important. May we regularly worship with the saints and partake of the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus Faced the Cross Willingly, by Jeff Curtis

Saturday, April 09, 2022

Jesus Faced the Cross Willingly

by Jeff Curtis

The more we learn about the cross, the more we will come to come to love and adore our Savior for the sacrifice He made for us. As we study the cross, we should come to a deeper conviction that the crucifixion was not a mistake or an accident. The cross was a part of God’s eternal purpose. There was a cross in the heart of God long before there was one planted on the hillside of Jerusalem (Ephesians 1:3,4; 2Timothy 1:9; 1Peter 1:19-20).

What better way to could God show His absolute justice and at the same time His love for us (Romans 3:24-26)? Since Jesus came to do His Father’s will, He viewed the cross voluntarily because He saw Himself as God’s servant.

So, what held Jesus to the cross?

The Roman soldiers drove nails into Jesus’ hands when they put Him on the cross (John 20:25), but what made Him stay there where others said, “If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (John 27:40)? It wasn’t the nails that held Him there (Matthew 26:53; John 10:17-18), but the Father’s will (Matthew 26:39). Jesus remained on the cross until His death because it was God’s eternal purpose that He do so (Philippians 2:5-11). He endured the cross for “the joy set before Him" (Hebrews 12:2). In response to this great show of love on our behalf, our love for God and Christ should cause us to remain faithful in the kingdom of God, no matter what.

The Torture of Scourging

The extreme severity of the beating Jesus received is not described in any of the four Gospel Accounts. It was necessary to do so, because the people of the first century were quite familiar with these types of scenes. Like the term “crucifixion,” the mere mention of the word “scourging” was sufficient for one to draw a mental picture. “Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified” (Matthew 27:26).

While the Jews could only apply thirty-nine stripes (2Corinthians 11:24), the Romans were not known for compassion and not limited by Jewish laws. The number of stripes Jesus actually received is unknown.

The scourging of Jesus was especially harsh. Instead of simply involving a leather strap, the Greek term points to a beating which used a whip with pieces of metal and bone tied into it. It was no doubt administered by a professional Roman soldier. Doctors’ accounts of this act say that Jesus was probably left in a pre-shock state. Therefore, even before the actual crucifixion from a medical perspective.

The cruel scourging Jesus received was a precursor to the crucifixion; in reality, the two events are tied together. Isaiah prophesied about the Suffering Servant: “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Remember He did all of this willingly. For you and me.

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