April 25, 2010

The Riches of Our Easter Faith - Apr 25, 2010

Today's message was preached by my dad, Pastor Walter Schaller. He serves Mt. Zion Lutheran, our sister church in Detroit, MI. To DOWNLOAD an MP3 of this message, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as".

April 18, 2010

Jesus is THE Good Shepherd - Apr 18, 2010

To DOWNLOAD an MP3 of this message, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as".

Grace and Peace be to you from God our Father, and from our Risen and Living Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jesus liked to tell stories. He used stories to teach people about God. Some of His stories revealed what God was like. Some described God’s Kingdom – how it was reached, and what it was about. Some of Jesus’ stories illustrated important concepts like compassion, forgiveness and salvation.

The characters that Jesus used in His stories were familiar. Characters like housekeepers, farmers, fishermen and shepherds. Jesus’ listeners could easily imagine, or identify with, the people in His stories.

Today we’re going to hear Jesus describe Himself, using the image of a shepherd.

After gardening, shepherding is the oldest profession known to man. Anybody remember who the first shepherd was? Adam and Eve’s son Abel. Genesis four tells us that Abel kept flocks and brought the best of his flocks as an offering to God.

The Jewish people that Jesus was talking to were very familiar with shepherding. All sorts of important people from Jewish history had tended sheep. Abraham was a shepherd. Moses was a shepherd. King David was a shepherd.

Because of the large amount of animal sacrifices that went on at the Temple in Jerusalem, there were always flocks in the surrounding countryside. Of course, it was a little different tending sheep back then. There weren’t as many fences.

A typical day in the life of a shepherd would go something like this. In the morning he would lead his sheep out of the fold. The fold was a walled or fenced in area that the animals were kept in for safety during the night. The sheep would follow their shepherd out of the fold into the countryside. He would then lead them to a good grazing area. He’d watch over them as they fed. When they needed a drink he’d lead them to water.

As evening approached, the shepherd would round up his sheep, make sure they were all accounted for. He’d retrieve any wanderers and lead them back to the sheep fold.

The sheep fold had just one doorway, so that once the sheep were herded in the shepherd could sit down in the doorway, and be the door. Any wild animals would have to go through the shepherd to get to the sheep.

Now, let’s read what Jesus has to say.
John 10:11-17 (NIV)

11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

When Jesus calls Himself “The Good Shepherd”, He puts Himself in a different class. He’s not just one good shepherd of many – He’s saying that He’s the best.

This is a very bold statement. If any of us were to say something like this, the people around us would consider it quite rude, even arrogant.

But Jesus explains what makes Him the best Shepherd that ever lived.

First of all, He’s not a temp.

If you’re not familiar with the term, “Temp” is short for “Temporary Worker”. Companies that need more people for a job sometimes call on Temp Agencies to provide extra workers.

One summer in college I worked on the production floor of a huge printing company in Milwaukee, WI. They called in Temps every day. They used to arrive a little bit after when shift began. Now, some of these Temps were great workers. They were trying out different job sites, looking for where they really wanted to work.

Others, however, were just there to put in the time. I say “put in the time” because they certainly weren’t there to put in the work. Some dressed in brand new and stylish clothes. They weren’t looking to sweat. They weren’t looking to get dirty. They weren’t looking to work – just to get paid.

This isn’t Jesus. He’s invested in the flock. It’s His flock, give to Him by His Father in heaven. This isn’t a hobby, or a temporary fill in position for Jesus. This is His great purpose, to be our Shepherd.

Turn to John 17, verse 6.
“6“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.” (John 17:6-8 NIV).
Jesus Shepherds those who the Father gives Him. God’s Holy Spirit brings these people to believe that Jesus is their Savior from sin. That Jesus was sent to reveal God the Father to them. To restore the relationship between them and God that had been broken by sin.

Jesus says that He’s not like the temporary shepherd stand it. Jesus doesn’t ever say, “I don’t get paid enough to do this”. Jesus is willing to give EVERYTHING to protect the flock the Father has entrusted to Him. Jesus says, “…The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

The second thing that makes Jesus a superior shepherd is that He is attentive.

Jesus pays attention to the sheep that He’s tending. He knows the character of each sheep and lamb. He knows our weaknesses. He knows our strengths. He knows our tendencies. Knows our struggles. Knows our triumphs. Knows our faith. Knows our doubt. Knows our hearts.

Did you notice the comparison Jesus made to express how well He knows us? He said, “…as the Father knows me and I know the Father”. As well as God the Father knows Jesus, that’s how well Jesus knows us.

Before Jesus was born, He existed as the eternal Son of the Father, with the Father and the Holy Spirit. You can’t get a closer knit group than the Triune God who isn’t really a “group” – can you call the three-in-one God a group? They know each other perfectly.

And here’s the most remarkable thing. Jesus says He knows His sheep that well, and He follows that by saying, “and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15 NIV).

I wonder how many relationships would be ruined if we could know each others thoughts fully. If the windows of hearts were clear and every thought that we have was projected for others to see.

Jesus sees all that, and still gladly laid down His life on the cross of Calvary so that our dark thoughts, deeds and words could be disposed of forever. Forgiven through His suffering in our place.

Isaiah 53, verse 6 says,
“6We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6 NIV).
I don’t ever want the Good News to get old. I try to vary the way that I express the Gospel of Christ so that it doesn’t ever seem repetitious and tiring. The Good News is our only hope. God’s standard is complete perfection. We can’t possibly hope to live with Him after we die unless something is done about our past sins. And we simply CAN’T do anything about our past sins. Living good lives now doesn’t erase the wrongs we’ve done before. Only Jesus can remove our sins by removing the punishment for our sins. Our iniquity was laid on HIM. Only in Jesus do we have hope for forgiveness. And in Jesus that hope is certain and sure. Apart from His cross we’re damned. Never lose sight of that. Only in Christ Jesus do we have forgiveness and life.

By His suffering in our place, Jesus broke down the wall of sin to reunite us with our Creator God. But the Good Shepherd also breaks down other walls of separation. Maybe you noticed verse 16 where it says,
“16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16 NIV).
Who were these other sheep? It was the Gentiles. The non-Jewish people who would be brought into the same flock – the flock of God. The flock of faith. The flock that has only ONE Shepherd – Jesus Christ.

For Jews and Gentiles to worship together was a hard thing for Jewish people to accept. They had been the favored people of God for so long that they had developed extreme prejudices against other people groups. Yet, Jesus knew that weakness, and would bring them together. Those who listened to His voice would join with one another as they followed His lead.

The last reason Jesus gives for being THE Good Shepherd is found in verses 17-18. Let’s read those again. Jesus says,
“17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father” (John 11:17-18 NIV).
Jesus is alive. That’s what makes Him the greatest Shepherd who ever lives. He lives today, though once He was dead.

Because Jesus was sinless, death had no power over Him at all. Death couldn’t have taken Jesus’ life from Him unless Jesus gave it. He did. Jesus GAVE His life away, knowing that He had the authority to take it back on the third day. This authority was given to Jesus the Man, by God the Father.

And Jesus is alive today. Alive and ruling the universe from the right hand of the Father. Guiding and leading His flock from above.

Have you ever thought how much of our faith spring from the resurrection of Jesus? We pray to Jesus. Couldn’t do that if He was dead. We trust that He’s coming back to retrieve us. That would be hopeless if He were only dust in a tomb somewhere. We talk about how He is our Good Shepherd. That would be a complete waste of time if He were just a dead Shepherd.

Earlier I said that Jesus’ claim to be THE Good Shepherd was quite a bold statement. This last statement of Jesus was even bolder. Remember, this conversation took place before Jesus was crucified. He was telling the Jews that He was going to lay down His own life and take it back again.

Here’s their response…
“19At these words the Jews were again divided. 20Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”
21But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” (John 10:19-21 NIV).
Their response was doubt. But they hadn’t seen the resurrection yet. We have, through the pages of Scripture.

So don’t you doubt your Good Shepherd. By faith you’ve been brought into His flock. He knows your faults and failings, and loves you still. Forgives all the sins you bring to Him. Your Shepherd laid down His life so that yours sins stand forgiven. And now He lives so that you may follow Him. Into the sheep fold for the night. And in the morning, out into the everlasting light of heaven.


And the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

April 4, 2010

Concerning Christ, All Things Must be Fulfilled - Apr 4, 2010

Luke 24:44-47 (NIV)

44Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
46Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

Sometimes it’s hard to get through to someone.

“Yes, the world is ROUND, not flat.” It took quite a while before that one was generally accepted.

“The SUN is the center of the solar system, not the earth.” That one took some time to get through also.

“If you put it on “Facebook”, other people ARE going to see it.” Some people are just beginning to grasp this.

Sometimes it’s hard to get through to someone. Some of the people who there when Jesus came back from the dead had a hard time accepting it.

The Bible says that the Roman soldiers who were assigned to guard Jesus’ tomb actually saw the angel who descended from heaven to roll the stone away. It scared the heck out of them! Matthew’s Gospel tells us that they laid there in a state of shock, like dead men. But later on, they accepted money to spread a lie about Jesus’ disciples stealing His body away. Seeing an angel didn’t get through to them. (Matthew 28:11-15)

Or how about the disciples of Jesus. When their friends came running back from the tomb saying that Jesus had risen from the dead and that they had actually SEEN Him, they didn’t believe it. Luke’s Gospel tells us they thought the women’s story sounded like “nonsense”. (Luke 24:11)

When Jesus Himself appeared to the apostles in that closed, upper room, their first thought was, “It’s a ghost!” (Luke 24:37)

Even after showing them the wounds He still had from being crucified to death, the Bible says they STILL didn’t believe it. (Luke 24:41)

I have this problem with my youngest daughter sometimes. She’s two, and really into puzzles. I’ve seen her do her Diego puzzle about fifteen times in one mad puzzling session. She gets it done and it’s “Yay, I did it!” And plop, it’s time to do it all over.

Diego she can handle all herself. But one harder puzzles, sometimes she needs a little direction. “Look Carmen, here’s Dora’s hand. It goes on her arm right. Where’s her arm? No, not on her head, on her arm. No, no. You’ve got it upside down turn it around. There you go!”

All the pieces are right there. Sometimes she’s even got the two pieces that go together, but still needs a little more help.

That’s what it must of felt like for Jesus. Guys, here I am. Here’s the wounds. Here, I’ll eat something to prove I’m not a phantom. Okay. Do you get it?

But they didn’t get it. Because they didn’t understand what the Old Testament Scriptures meant. Or didn’t believe it. So Jesus takes them back to the Word of God and showed them from the prophets that it HAD to happen this way.

Romans 10, verse 17 says,
“…So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17 NKJV).
That’s where Jesus had to take them. That’s the only place faith can start.

Now, we’re not actually told where Jesus took them in the Old Testament. And there’s plenty of prophesy concerning the Messiah. Some have counted around 300 prophecies concerning the Messiah, 29 of them being fulfilled in the final 24 hours of His life.

Obviously we can’t look all these up right now. But the risen Jesus told His disciples, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise form the dead on the third day” (Luke 24:46). So, let’s look at one of the prophesies concerning the Messiah’s death.

If you’ve got your Bible, turn to Psalm 22. This Psalm was written by King David in about 1,000 B.C. Many Jews considered it to be a Psalm about the Messiah. Verse one says,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22:1 NIV).
Those are the same words Jesus said on the cross. And that’s not where the similarity ends. Verses 6-8 read...
“6But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.
7All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8“He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him” (Psalm 22:6-8).
While Jesus was on the cross, He was mocked by the people who looked on from below. The religious leaders, who hated Jesus, even mocked Him with THESE SAME WORDS.

Let’s look at three more verses. Verses 16-18 say…
“16Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.
18They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing” (Psalm 22:16-18 NIV).
Obviously, Jesus hands and feet were pierced when He was crucified. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that the soldiers who were in charge of Jesus’ cross sorted his remaining possessions and “rolled the dice” to see who got what (Matthew 27:35).

Turn to Isaiah 53, verse 3. The prophet Isaiah was also led by God to predict the suffering of the Messiah.
“3He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:3-6 NIV).
Isaiah also speaks of the Messiah’s death, and His resurrection. Listen to verses 9-11.
“9He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10Yet it was the LORD’S will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:9-11 NIV).

When Jesus walked alongside those disciples going to Emmaus, He rebuked them. He said,
“How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26 NIV).
These things had to happen because God said they would. And God keeps His word. His Servant had to suffer, die and rise again.

But there is another reason why these things had to happen. These events happened to fulfill prophesy, but more importantly because this is what had to happen if God was going to save sinners from hell.

Someone had to pay the price for sin. If we had to pay the price for sin, we’d never get out of debt. We’d have to spend eternity away from God. So God’s Son did it for us. That’s what Jesus did, and that’s the message Jesus gave the apostles to preach.

Sometimes it’s hard to get through to someone. Some times it takes an act of God. In fact, every one of us would turn away from Christ if it weren’t for the God’s Holy Spirit getting through to us with the Word.

The world is round.

The sun is the center of our solar system.

And your sins have been paid for.

God promised, and God’s Son paid. And then God raised His Son from the dead to get our attention. To say to us – it’s done. You are forgiven. That’s what the resurrection means.


April 2, 2010

Terrible Wages, Wonderful Gift - Apr 2, 2010

Last December I got a strange email. It was from a Schaller, but one I didn’t know. Apparently, this person had discovered some unclaimed property that belonged to me. They had somehow searched for me email address. Found it and then kindly forwarded this information.

Sounds like a web-scam, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t. The email led me to a government website that lists people with unclaimed property in Wisconsin. Once I verified that the website was legitimate, I ran a search for my name.

Turns out that there was an old employer who still owed me about $120 in unpaid wages. I filled out a form, and a couple months later I received a check in the mail. It was just a hundred bucks, but it was wages that I had earned. I deserved to get it.

Our reading for tonight says that ALL of us have some unpaid wages yet to be claimed. Wages we have earned. Wages we deserve to get.

Romans 6:23 (NIV)

23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The wages of sin is death. It’s not hard to verify that these wages truly belong to us. The Bible says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NKJV). And we know without even cracking the Bible. None of us would claim that we’ve never done something wrong. Never told a lie. Never said a mean thing. Never wanted something we weren’t supposed to have. Never passed gossip along. We’re all in the same boat. We’ve all got some back-pay coming to us.

But the wages that we have earned by our sins won’t fit in one of those windowed envelopes. Death is a big package. Death is far more than a coffin and a hole in the ground.

This evening, let’s imagine we could receive death in the mail. If we could, it might come in a box like this.

The first part of death is called “Spiritual Death”.

Isaiah 59, verse 2 says…
“…your iniquities have separated you from your God;your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.3For your hands are stained with blood,
your fingers with guilt.Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things” (Isaiah 59:2-3 NIV).
Sin colors us black to God. It makes us dead to Him. Paul says we are “dead in sin” and that we are “objects of wrath”. We’re just broken things waiting in line to be destroyed.

Any prayers that sinners might pray will not be answered. Because God does not listen to sinners, only the righteous.

Spiritual death cuts us off from any communication, any relationship with our Creator.

The second part of death is the part we’re probably most familiar with, “Physical Death”. God created angels as spirit beings, they don’t have flesh and bone. But, God created us humans with a spirit and a body. These are supposed to stay together. The spirit was never intended to be separated from the body.

But in physical death that’s just what happens. The spirit and body and ripped apart.

Physical death isn’t just a black door lurking in our future. Physical death is constantly picking at us. Drawing us ever closer to its threshold. Someone said, “Once you’re born you start dying.” And how true it is.

Physical death tugs at us with every virus. Every infection. Every deformity. Every disease. Every cancer. Every heart attack. Every stroke. Even with the slow march of years that saps our strength and puts a curve in our backs.

The third part of death is the most terrible, “Eternal Death”. Eternal Death is Spiritual Death sealed forever. Sinners will receive Eternal Death on Judgment Day. By choosing to live a life of sin, sinners choose to live their lives apart from God. On Judgment Day, God will seal their choice and they will EXIST apart from Him for eternity.

Notice that I said they will EXIST forever. You can’t really call it LIVING. They’ll be conscious, but it can’t rightly be called “living”. For God will withdraw all His goodness from them.

In this life, God blesses everyone. Even God’s enemies have breath in their lungs, feel the warmth of the sun, the cool breeze on a hot day, the contentment of a good meal, the joy of family and friends who love them.

But all of God’s blessings will be withdrawn from sinners who die eternally. There will be no comfort in Hell. Not even the smallest drop of relief.

These are the wages of sin. This is what we’ve all earned. A life apart from God, a painful death, and an eternity of utter darkness. The wages of sin is death.

But God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. He doesn’t want us to die. He wants us to live. So, to save us from what we had earned, Jesus experienced it instead.

For three hours on that first Good Friday, the sun in the sky went dark. And the Son of God on the cross, cried out…
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34 NKJV)
Though we cannot comprehend it, the God the Son was torn apart from God the Father. The Son of God was truly alone when He experienced the whole package of Death in our place.

Separated from God. Body dying. And somehow, in that finite space of time, our eternal punishment was poured out into His soul.

On the cross, Jesus received our terrible wages. And in their place, He left a GIFT.

The wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Through Jesus, our spiritual death is replaced with “Spiritual Life”. With His cross, Jesus colors us white - sinless. God can see us now. Can hear our prays, guides our lives, help us to grow to understand and love Him. Spiritual life opens a line of constant communication between us and God. This communication is only possible because Jesus took our sins away on the cross.

Through Jesus, physical death is changed. Sure we still experience pain and suffering in this broken world, with physical death at the end. But the dark door of death has been changed by Christ. Now it’s a door that leads to heaven! A door that opens on Paradise. A door that Christians look forward too. The apostle Paul once wrote…

“21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:21-24 NIV).
Because Jesus ABSORBED our death, when we pass out of this world we will not be sealed in DEATH, but sealed in painless, sinless, joyful, blissful LIFE forever. We will be locked into an eternal communion with our Creator God. Locked into a bliss a trillion times better than any experience we’ve ever had in this broken world.
“12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12 NIV).
The wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you’re a sinner, than you had this ugly box of wages on it’s way. But because of Jesus, your wages have been exchanged with a most amazing gift: ETERNAL LIFE with God.

Because of Good Friday, the apostle Paul was able to write the following to his friends in Christ:

“…“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NIV).
Just like this box, that first Good Friday was black. But oh, the wonderful GIFT that came out of it!

All glory be to Jesus, now and forever.


The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

April 1, 2010

Lord's Supper Devotions - Apr 1, 2010

To DOWNLOAD an MP3 of this message, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as".

27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor. 11:27-32 NIV).

As Lutherans, we believe in the REAL PRESENCE. This means that we believe Jesus’ body and blood are REALLY THERE with the bread and the wine when we receive the Lord’s Supper. We don’t call it the PHYSICAL PRESENCE because we can’t get out a microscope and see the cells of Jesus’ body and blood in the bread and wine. But we believe that His body and blood are REALLY there because He said, “This IS my body, This IS my blood”.

There are other reasons for believing the Real Presence besides the word “is”. Paul tell us that the Lord’s body and blood can be SINNED AGAINST in the Lord’s Supper. This happens when unbelievers take the Lord’s Supper .

Paul tells us that CHRISTIANS can sin against the body of Christ also, if they eat it “without recognizing the body of the Lord”. If we treated the Lord’s Supper like just any other meal, we would be sinning against Christ’s body and blood.

Paul also tells us that the Lord’s Supper is a SHARING in the body and blood of Christ. A “coming together with” or a “communion” with our Savior. This too, moves us to believe in the Real Presence.

The truth that Jesus is really present in His Supper causes us to approach this meal with reverence and awe. We must do as Paul says, and examine our hearts before we take the Lord’s Supper.

To receive the Lord’s Supper properly, a repentant and believing heart is required. A heart that says, “I’m a sinner Lord. I do not defend my sins, but renounce them. Forgive me Lord!”

Through the story of His perfect life, suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus TELLS us what He did so that our sins are forgiven. Through the Lord’s Supper, He also SHOWS us.

After Jesus sacrificed Himself on the Cross of Calvary, He rose from the dead and appeared to His followers. When He did, He SHOWED them His hands and His feet. He could have made His wounds be gone, but He didn’t. He offers those holes in His hands and feet as proof that it was really Him.

In the Lord’s Supper He does the same thing. He says, here is My body that was broken, so that your sins stand forgiven. Here is My blood that was spilt, so that your sins are washed away forever.

When I receive the Lord’s Supper, I pray, “Thank You Lord, for coming TO ME.” I can’t make the Son of God come to me. I can’t make this bread and wine be His body and blood. I can’t make my own sins be gone. There’s a lot of things I just can’t do. But He can.

The Son of God comes to me in bread and wine. His body and blood which earned my release from Hell are here, for me to share in. Because of Him, my sins are forgiven.

This is the kind of God that we have. One who SEEKS us out. One who comes TO US like the dedicated Shepherd tending His beloved sheep.

“31“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—32not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord... …For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:31-32, 34 NKJV).
“20In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:20 NIV).
“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6 NIV).

When Jesus gave His Supper to His followers, He declared it part of the “New Covenant”. The Old Covenant was the Law of God. It shows us our sin. The New Covenant is the Good News of Jesus. It shows us our Savior.

Some think that the Lord’s Supper MUST be done simply because Jesus COMMANDED it. But the Lord’s Supper isn’t just another Law that Jesus added to the Ten Commandments. NO! The Lord’s Supper is part of the NEW COVENANT. It’s all about forgiveness, not Law.

A covenant is simply an agreement. The Old Covenant of the Law was a two sided agreement. God said He’d bless the Israelites if they kept His Laws. They had to hold up their end of the bargain. But they couldn’t. They were sinners just like you and me. Really, this was EXACTLY what God intended the Old Covenant to reveal, that they were sinners who needed the Savior that God was going to send.

The New Covenant is different than the Old. It isn’t part of the “letter of the Law”. The Law only kills and damns. The Law of God is good and perfect, but it can only tell you what you need to do and then point it out when you fail to do so. There is no comfort in the Law.

The New Covenant is a different agreement. It is a ONE SIDED covenant. An agreement where God says, “Here’s the deal, I’ve forgiven you your sins because of my Son’s cross.”

The Lord’s Supper isn’t about what WE do, it’s about what God has done. Through Jesus’ body given and blood poured out, our wickedness is forgiven, and our sins are remembered no more.

“24“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24 NIV).
“13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13 NIV).
“26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26 NIV).

I’d like to correct a false idea about the Lord’s Supper that is sometimes held by Christians. Some Christians view the Lord’s Supper like it’s an eraser that wipes away all the sins that a person has done TO THAT POINT in their life.

Imagine it like this. Each of us has our own “spiritual chalkboard”. As we live our lives, our sins are recorded on that chalkboard up on the board. When we come to the Lord’s Supper, that list of sins get erased. Then the sins start to pile up again on the board until we take the Lord’s Supper again.

This flawed thinking has led Christians in the past to try and receive the Lord’s Supper RIGHT BEFORE they die. That way they’ll get the most sins taken care of right before the end. This isn’t how the Lord’s Supper works.

Jesus says that whoever hears His message and believes it, will not be condemned, but has eternal life. The faithful are in what we call the STATE OF GRACE. We might imagine this “state of grace” like an umbrella. By faith we stand under the umbrella of Jesus’ forgiveness.

When Christians hear the Good News of Jesus, it’s like the preacher is nudging our chin up to see the umbrella that we’re standing under. When Christians receive the Lord’s Supper, God Himself is nudging our chin up so that we see that we are under the forgiving umbrella of Christ’s Sacrifice.

When we understand the Lord’s Supper like this, we begin to see that we could celebrate the Lord’s Supper ten times a day if we wanted to and that would be totally proper. But if we don’t receive the Lord’s Supper until next month, by faith we’re still standing under Christ’s umbrella. Those who follow Christ live in a state of grace.

Let me leave you with one final thought about the Lord’s Supper. While it is primarily about our Savior coming to us to, it’s also a unique opportunity to express our faith. As Paul says, “Whenever we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He come.”

As we come before the Lord’s Table today, let’s remember that this is really our Savior COMING TO US. This is Christ reminding us that we have been brought into the NEW COVENANT, the one sided covenant of Christ’s blood poured out for our forgiveness. And let us also sing out to God with a heart of joy, receiving Him with praise. Proclaiming His death, that death that set us free once and for all.