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Communion Meditations (2013)



Originally scheduled for September 29

In Luke’s account of the Crucifixion we are reminded that there are three crosses on the hill of Calvary that day. Two thieves were crucified along with Jesus. The contrast between the two is instructive. Both of them, if you recall, recognized that Jesus is the Christ. The first thief is a very recognizable person in our time: he’s the one who’s mad at God. After all, he’s right next to the Messiah — you would think that being so close he could get Jesus to take care of his little problems, just by demanding it. His focus is entirely upon himself; the dying Christ is simply a means to an end, in his mind. What he wants is simple: he wants Jesus to get him out of this mess, right now, so he can go back to being himself. He puts himself first from start to finish. Such a man is often surprised by the silence of God.

The second thief is a more noble person. To begin with, he admits his guilt. In the context of punishment of that time, he knows he’s getting what he deserves. It’s not God’s fault; it’s his own fault. He knows it and he admits it. Most of us will eventually get to that point, but he goes beyond it. He also acknowledges the righteousness of Christ, which we often fail to do. It is not just that I am a sinner; it’s that I am a sinner and he is God.

In that context he makes a simple request: “remember me.” This shows us a profound, even eloquent trust in the Lord. He makes no specific request. He does not pretend to know what is best, but rather he trusts that God will provide what is best for him. Our Lord, in reply, tells him that “today you will be with me in paradise.”

It is a paradox. If you start out by looking out for number one, letting God know that you expect him to take care of you and follow your good advice, you’ll wind up with nothing. If you turn your problems over to God, stating your heart’s desire but submitting to his will, you may be surprised at how much God will do for you. This is particularly true if you approach him with a contrite heart.

Therefore, as you approach the Lord’s Supper, do so with that contrite heart. Admit your sins; acknowledge his righteousness; repent of your sins. Then commit your ways to him, and trust in him with all your heart.

The two thieves had an advantage over us. They saw the price that Christ had to pay for the redemption of mankind. It was played out right in front of their eyes. Even then, one of them did not trust nor repent. We cannot see, except with the mind’s eye, the crucifixion of Christ. Yet it is real, the price paid for our salvation. We cannot see, except with the mind’s eye, the paradise that is waiting for us. Yet it is real, for those who accept their salvation. Remember these things, and take this communion in a manner which befits the pure and contrite heart.

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