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Communion 2009

Pinch Hitter

Originally scheduled for March 29

Baseball fans know what a pinch hitter really is. It’s a phrase so common in our language that it has passed into usage into other areas of speech. But like many such transfers, the people using it outside of baseball often get it wrong.

How so? In baseball, you bring in a pinch hitter because that hitter is better than the other one. The common example is bringing in a pinch hitter for a pitcher. Pitchers are usually poor hitters; the manager may decide that losing that pitcher’s services on the mound is not as important as a better chance to get a hit. That’s the original usage. Often, the phrase is now used to mean not “a better performing substitute” but just a substitute – often meaning “whoever we could get.”


Christ is our pinch hitter in the matter of sin and death. He’s not just a substitute; he’s the only substitute who can actually do the task. Here’s why:

·         The penalty for sin is death. If someone is to pay that penalty for me, that someone must not also be under sentence of death for sin. Dying for your own sins means you can’t die for mine. In short, that someone must be sinless. I’m not; Christ is.

·         The penalty must be paid in the manner prescribed by God for an effective substitute. Christ did so in accord with the Old Testament law, at just the right time.

·         If someone does pay that penalty for me, how do I know it’s effective? We have the Resurrection, clear proof of triumph over death.


Baseball fans often can give you every detail of the last time their club won the World Series. If they had tickets, the ticket stubs are preserved forever as memorabilia. Communion is our method of remember the triumph over sin and death that Christ achieved at the Cross. He is our pinch hitter – not just any substitute available, but the one who could do the job we cannot. Remember his death as you take this bread and drink this cup.

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