SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
Key Verse: This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. . . . This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. – Luke 22: 19, 20
A popular bumper sticker declared, “We Will Not Forget 9-11.” It reminds us that Americans will not soon forget the heinous terrorist attack that shocked out nation. Memories dim with the passing of time but this dastardly deed will be remembered for years to come.
always called upon his people to remember, not the evil deeds of others, but
the kindness of God. The Passover feast was begun in obedience to God’s command
that the Jewish people remember how God delivered them from bondage in
Each year, on a date in the Hebrew calendar that for us would be in early spring, Jewish families gathered to remember. The father of each family was required to bring a lamb “without blemish,” to be slaughtered by the priests in the temple. The blood of the lamb was spilled upon the altar. Then the meat was returned to the father and cooked for the entire family to enjoy that night. Unleavened bread, cooked without yeast, was also included in the Passover meal. The bread reminded them of their hasty departure from Egyptian slavery.
The celebration had been observed for centuries before Jesus came. With his coming, in “the fullness of time,” God did a new thing. Time was divided and a new era began.
Jesus understood clearly his mission: he would become the sacrificial lamb, the perfect lamb. His life was unblemished by sin. No truer words were ever uttered by John than when he said, “Behold the lamb of God.” When Jesus died upon the cruel cross, he was the lamb “slain from the foundation of the world,” fulfilling the will and plan of God.
Judas betrayed him. The Jewish leaders insisted that he die. The disciples ran. The bloodthirsty crowd cried, “Crucify him!” The Romans scourged him unmercifully and executed him upon a wooden cross. Yet the greater truth is that Jesus gave his life for the sins of the whole world. His life, he said, was not taken from him.
mighty deed of God occurred on
occurred at the meal was striking. He took bread and gave thanks. Many
Christians bow their heads and offer a prayer before each meal. My parents
taught my siblings and me to pray before meals. We still do, even in
restaurants, holding hands and offering a quiet prayer to express our gratitude
to God. What is humbling to consider is that we practice this habit because
Jesus prayed that night in
How natural it seems for a father, or a mother, to offer a prayer of thanks at the table, so that children can learn to take nothing for granted! I am so grateful for this legacy from my parents – the practice of prayer at mealtime. Tears of gratitude well up in my eyes even now, as I remember that my parents insisted that no one begin eating until a prayer of thanks had been offered!
When Jesus had given thanks, he broke the bread, and giving it to his disciples, said those remarkable words, “This is my body, given for you.” The meaning was clear. The breaking of the bread symbolized the breaking of his body on the cross. Every time I take Holy Communion, I tremble inside, realizing once again that Jesus died for me! No wonder Charles Wesley cried in more than one of his hymns, “for me, for me, He died!” It is an overwhelming truth – He died for me, for you, for us all. He willingly endured the cruelest form of execution – flogging and death upon a cross – for me and for you. Does it not move you to get on your knees even now, and thank him for this unmerited mercy?
When my wife and I saw the movie, The Passion of the Christ, I expected to cry when Jesus was being beaten so severely. I was surprised that neither of us wept at the movie. We were deeply moved by Mel Gibson’s historic portrayal of the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life, but there were no tears.
After the movie we went to our church to receive the Holy Sacrament. It was there that the tears flowed. Dean and I both wept as we took the bread and the cup, and heard those words again, “This is my body, broken for you; this is my blood, shed for you.” Having seen that powerful movie, I know I can never take Holy Communion again without seeing those images of his bleeding body and remembering that he did that for me. Mel Gibson helped me realize that I helped drive those nails in the hands of Jesus. My sins helped to nail him to that tree.
What a price Jesus paid for our sins! Can we dare to forget what it cost God to make salvation available to all who believe? Jesus expects us to remember him when we eat of the loaf and drink of the cup. He knows that when we remember what he did for us, we are motivated to offer our own lives as vessels of honor in his service.
He died for you. Remember that every day. It will affect the way you live!
+ + + + (Walter may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)