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Reading of Scripture — Ephesians 2:12-22
The Lord’s Supper is an invitation to remembrance.
What are we as Christians to remember?
I. Remember our Separation (2:12)
The Scriptures call us to remember a time when we were separated from Christ (2:12a).
Can you remember such a time?
Before you had a relationship with Jesus?
It is a time that (2:1) characterizes as being “dead in trespasses and sins in which you once walked” (2:1).
A time when we “lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (2:3).
A time when we, as verse 12 says, were:
Can you remember such a time?
When you had no hope?
Before you knew God or his promises?
When you were separated from Christ?
Once you remember that time, verse 13 calls us to remember that God did not leave us this way:
II.
Christ Brings Us Near (2:13)
God did not keep us distant and far off.
God brought us near to Him, and he brought us near “in Christ” and “by the blood of Christ.”
This Table reminds us of the new covenant — that we have been brought near, as we eat of the bread (his body), and drink of the cup (his blood), we are reminded that in Christ we have communion with the living God!
What about Jesus makes it possible for us to be brought near to God?
The reason given is in Verse 14:
III.
Jesus is Our Peace (2:14-22)
Before we knew Christ, we did not have any peace!
No peace with God, and no peace with one another.
Sin, time, distance, ethnicities, ordinances - all of these things that threaten peace and cause division and hostility, Jesus breaks down in his flesh, so that he:
The good news of Jesus Christ is that through his death on the cross, we might have reconciliation with God and one another.
The cross offers us peace.
Jesus is our Peace.
Ephesians 2 is specifically talking about the lack of peace between the Israelites and the Gentiles.
The Israelites were given the covenants of promise.
They were part of God’s promises simply by being descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The Israelites received God’s law and instructions for worship and learned through ritual and sacrifice how to be at peace with God and to commune with and worship Him.
They learned about the process of sacrifice that was required in the temple worship.
First,
The Purification Offering
When worshippers came to the sanctuary, they came defiled.
In the preceding weeks and months, they had committed sins unintentionally.
Sin was a barrier to God.
So God prescribed that first, a purification offering be made.
When the purification offering was made for a sin, the worshiper was required to confess that sin, and once that sin was confessed, forgiveness was granted.
Then, there was:
The Reparation Offering
If sin is an offense against God, and the Purification Offering demonstrated confession of sin and forgiveness, then the Reparation Offering was made after wrongs were made right with one another.
This offering showed that the worshiper was genuinely repentant.
They have purified themselves from sin against God, and made right their offenses against their neighbors.
Then came the third offering:
The Burnt Offering
This was a sacrifice of atonement.
Atonement is a word that means that the relationship with God is now fully restored.
Any barrier that had existed between the worshiper and God is now removed.
This offering was completely burnt on the altar, to show that God has accepted the worshipper completely.
After offering the Burnt Offering, the worshiper would owe God a debt of gratitude - a debt that can never be repaid!
But God gave instructions for:
The Dedication Offering
This offering in no way could pay the debt of gratitude that was owed to God for forgiveness and restored fellowship, but it was an offering of a token of that gratitude.
But after this Dedication Offering, there was one more offering to be made —
The Peace Offering
All of these ritual sacrifices and offerings led to this Peace Offering, which symbolized communion with God.
Of all the sacrifices, the peace offering was the only one the worshiper could eat!
Eating was a sign of fellowship.
And the worshiper was to eat this meal with God, and with God’s people, as a sign of restored fellowship with God and one another.
The Peace Offering was a meal of communion.
It was not a sacrifice to make peace with God, but it was a sacrifice to celebrate being at peace with God, offered in communion with God.
Invitation to Communion
Jesus is our Peace, and he invites us to communion with Him and one another.
And the fellowship he offers is not just for Israel, but for Gentiles also — for all who are in Jesus Christ, brought near to God by the blood of Christ.
In Christian worship, we do not share in the meal of a peace offering, but we do share in a special meal called Communion.
In Communion, we who are in Christ approach the Lord’s Table to partake as witnesses — testifying that all barriers between God and humanity have been removed by the the death of Jesus Christ once and for all.
In this Lord’s Supper, we share in this food not to be made right with God, but as a celebration of being in covenant relationship with Him.
No longer as strangers, no longer without hope, no longer without God in the world, no longer far off.
In this meal of Communion, we look forward with great hope to the eternal Communion we will share together one day in Heaven.
Because:
Jesus is our Peace,
“who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…” so that he “might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross…"
Preparation for Communion
Confession & Assurance of Pardon
Let all in Christ prepare to share in the Lord’s Supper together.
*All material concerning the Hebrew rituals of worship through offerings and sacrifices adapted from:
Ross, Allen P. Recalling the Hope of Glory; Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2006.
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