BY K. HAGIN, JR.
The story of our Lord’s Passion reveals how the first Communion began and why we commemorate Jesus’ death and resurrection – until He comes again!
… I am the resurrection, and the life…. -John 11:25
Monuments of historical people and events that helped secure our country’s freedom can be found in towns, villages and hamlets throughout the United States. But some of the most well-known are located in the heart of the nation’s capital.
Take, for example, the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial or the famous replica of U.S. Marines raising the American flag at I in Arlington National Cemetery memorials are a constant reminder of the blood our servicemen shed so we can enjoy the liberties we have today.
As Christians, we also have a lasting memorial that serves to remind us of the blood that was shed to secure our freedom. It’s called Communion (also referred to as the Lord’s Supper or Table). Communion commemorates the two fundamental principles upon which our faith is based–the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The whole of Christianity is wrapped up in the
fact that Jesus died, and that He rose again.
The Apostle Paul said in First Corinthians 15:14, “If Christ be not risen, then our faith is vain.” And Jesus said in John 11:25, “. . . I am THE RESURRECTION, and THE LIFE: he that that in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live!”
When you read John 11:25 in context, Jesus at the tomb of His friend Lazarus who had just died. Lazarus’ sister was also there, and she said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had come sooner; my brother wouldn’t have died.”
Jesus replied, “Your brother will rise again”
“Yes, I know he will rise in the resurrection at the last day,” Martha answered.
That’s; when Jesus said, “I am the Resurrection the Life!” But what He said ha application. He was speaking both literally about the present situation, as well as prophetically regarding the future when He added, “Whoever believes in Me, though he is dead, yet will he live.”
You see, Jesus was first referring to that particular moment in time, because He was about to raise Lazarus–who was physically dead–from the grave. But I believe He was also talking about what would happen in the days to come, when He raised both the spiritually and physically dead (John 3:3; 1 Thess. 4:1318) through His redemptive work on the Cross.
Jesus’ death and resurrection are recorded in the Word of God. Even secular historical books document that these events actually happened. So let’s look at the account in the Bible recorded by Luke.
1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they [the women who were with Joseph of Arimathaea) came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
6 HE IS NOT HERE, BUT IS RISEN….
If Jesus hadn’t risen, our Christianity would be just as dead as the founders of this world’s religions. But the bodies of those men are still in the grave–and the tomb where Jesus was laid is empty!
So we serve a risen Savior! Forevermore, He’s alive and real today. And because He lives, we can live also, because Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die [spiritually]” (John 11:25,26)!
Now let’s back up to the night before Jesus’ death and recount the events of that fateful night.
14 And when the hour was come, he [Jesus] sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.
15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this PASSOVER with you before I suffer:
16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:
18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
19 And HE TOOK BREAD, AND GAVE THANKS, AND BRAKE IT, AND GAVE UNTO THEM, SAYING, THIS IS MY BODY WHICH IS GIVEN FOR YOU: this do in remembrance of me.
20 LIKEWISE ALSO THE CUP AFTER SUPPER, SAYING, THIS CUP IS THE NEW TESTAMENT IN MY BLOOD, which is shed for you.
Jesus and His disciples had gathered to eat the Passover supper that symbolized the children of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. But at the conclusion of that Passover supper, Jesus instituted a new Passover supper, in which He said, “This bread represents My body that will be broken, and this cup represents My blood that will be shed for you.”
Up until that time, the priests offered burnt sacrifices continually on the altar to atone man’s sin 9:22). But they would never again to shed the blood of another God would be slain slain for the sins of the whole world, once and for all!
This month as we celebrate Easter I want you to notice that Jesus Himself, the Head of the Church, established the “monument” of Communion. I call it a monument in the sense that the bread and the cup remind us of the deliverance and freedom we obtained through His sacrifice. That’s what a monument does–it reminds you of something. But the emblems representing Jesus’ broken body and shed blood don’t just remind us of His death; they remind us of His resurrection too! Paul explains this further in First Corinthians 11.
I CORINTHIANS 11:23-26
23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is
my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying
This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in
remembrance of me.
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death TILL HE COME.
After Jesus and His disciples finished eating: their last supper together, they left the Upper Room by the Eastern Gate. Then they walked through the Kidron Valley and up the Mount of Olives until they came to the Garden of ( Gethsemane. There in the garden, Jesus knelt by a rock to pray.
While Jesus was praying, Judas appeared and betrayed Jesus with a kiss on the cheek. Then the chief priests, elders, and scribes carried Jesus off to a mock trial, where He was sentenced to be crucified.
After the trial, Pilate’s soldiers scourged and mocked Him, saying, Hail, Kin g of the Jews!” They put a purple robe on His back and a crown of thorns on His head. Then they stripped off the robe and with a cat-o’nine tails lashed Him severely.
With every lash, the flesh on Jesus’ back was laid open and the blood began to flow. His bare, bleeding back couldn’t stand the weight of the cross, so a man named Simon carried it for Him on that lonely road to the hill called Golgotha. There on the cross, the Supreme Sacrifice hung suspended between Heaven and earth to die for the sins of the whole world.
The two wood planks of that old rugged cross and the three rusty nails piercing Jesus’ hands and feet built the bridge on which all mankind can walk from the dregs of sin to the glory of Heaven today.
None of us can imagine the shame and physical agony Jesus suffered on the cross. But following is one medical doctor’s account taken from The Expositor’s Bible Commentary of the crucifixion process that can perhaps give us an idea of the terrible affliction Jesus bore:
. . . The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum [cross] is then lifted in place ….
The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The Victim is now crucified. As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain–the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.
. . . As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward…. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically He is able to push Himself upward to
exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen ….
Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, join trending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber: Then another agony begins. A deep crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart ….
It is now almost over–the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level–the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues–the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air ….
The body of Jesus is now in extremis, and He can feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues . . .’
After reading this, you can understand what a tremendous struggle it was for Jesus to get enough air just to say, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me.” No wonder darkness covered the face of the earth like a blanket. Finally, He pushed Himself up one last time and gasped His last breath saying, “It is finished!”
When Jesus hung His head and died, the lightning flashed and the thunder rolled. The curtain in the temple ripped from top to bottom, and the glory of God moved out from the Holy of Holies.
As evening approached, Jesus’ broken, beaten body was taken down and laid in a tomb. His disciples hid in secrecy while the Sabbath slowly passed. Then as the first day of the week began to dawn, the s-u-n spread its golden glow across the eastern horizon, and the S-o-n arose!
18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Jesus came forth from the tomb as the mighty Victor with the keys of death, hell, and the grave in His hand. Celebrate this Easter victory with me now as we read Matthew’s account.
1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified..
6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
But the story doesn’t end with Jesus’ resurrection! Jesus ascended on High and declared to His Father, “The ransom for sin has been paid” (John 20:17; Heb. 9:11,12)! Then He returned to earth and appeared unto His friends.
3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
After spending many days with His disciples, Jesus stood outside the city of Jerusalem and blessed them before He was taken up out of their sight!
9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
As they watched Jesus being carried away in a cloud, two men in white apparel appeared unto them and said, “Why are you standing there, gazing into the heavens? This same Jesus shall come again in like manner” (Acts 1:11).
I believe those men were the same angels who announced to the women at the tomb, “He is not here; He is risen!” And now here they were again to reassure the disciples that Jesus was coming again. This same Jesus shall come again in like manner.
The Apostle Paul tells us that everyone who has followed Jesus will one day be caught up in the clouds, as Jesus was, to meet Him in the air. Those of us who are in Christ and are physically alive to see Jesus come as the angels promised, will be caught up together with all resurrected Christians who have died in Christ – to meet Jesus in the air.
1 THESSALONIANS 4:16,17
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to that day when we’ll meet the Lord in the air. But until that time, He has given us something to do. He’s instructed us to keep His “monument”–the ordinance that He established–because it foretells the good news that He is coming again! He said, “As often as you eat this bread and drink ibis cup, you are showing forth My death until I come” (1 Cor. 11:26)!
So thank God, Jesus is the Resurrected Christ! Thank God that He declared it when He said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life!” and proved it when He rose victoriously from the grave. Because what He did, He did for you–to give you His victory too!
If you’ve never accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I challenge you to receive t e life that God has extended to you through His Son Then I encourage you to find a good, Bible-believing church that teaches the Word of God and celebrates the sacrament of Communion. And every time you partake of the Lord’s Table, let it not only be a lasting memorial of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but a glorious testimony of His promised coming!
C. Truman Davis, M.D., “Crucifixion of Jesus,” pp. 186-87, cited by The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, The Zondervan Company, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1984, pp. 779, 780
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THE WORD OF FAITH, APRIL 1998, PAGES 5-7. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.