In 1st Corinthians 11:26 the apostle Paul wrote concerning the Lord’s Supper/Communion, “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” Let us consider that death for a moment. What really happened on the cross? What is it exactly that we are to proclaim? His death was our death; at least, the one we had coming. Let’s imagine it in more everyday terms rather than using words like atonement, salvation, or propitiation. Jesus pushed us out of the way of that bus barreling straight for us. He jumped in front of the bullet meant for us. He drowned to save us. He ran into the burning house and dragged us out before the house collapsed on Him. He climbed down onto the ledge and pulled us to safety before His own rope broke. He jumped on the grenade Satan had rolled at our feet. He stood up in court as we were sentenced to death and said, “I’ll go instead.” Spiritually, that is what Jesus did for us on the cross.
If another person had done these things, would we proclaim it? Would we feel too ashamed that another had to die so we might live? Would we feel unworthy of that sacrifice? Or, would our gratitude be strong enough to overshadow our shame and embarrassment? Would our appreciation be so great that it would demand us to honor that sacrifice by telling anyone who would listen? Would we make it crystal clear to everyone that the only reason we are alive is because of the selfless, supreme act of love by another on our behalf?
Heroes on the news always say the same thing: “I’m not a hero. Anyone else would have done the same thing.” We know that’s baloney. They ARE heroes! Jesus is no less a hero and one infinitely greater than any earthly hero. Consider what Jesus did for you and make it personal. He saved your precious daughter’s soul from Satan. He rescued your grandfather from eternal fire. He guarded the soul of your favorite cousin. He died on the cross for your own sweet mother. He died for strangers we will never know. He died for you and for me. He gave all that He could. He gave His best; He gave His blood; He gave His life.
The price of my sin was paid by another who was innocent. Jesus had to die so I could live. That grim truth is heartbreaking. But at the same time, doesn’t it fill your heart right back up to know how much you are loved? How precious to God you are? Before you were even born, Jesus loved you more than His own life. In Romans 5:6-11, Paul describes how such humiliating sorrow is transformed into joy. “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son… we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
We proclaim His death when we remember His sacrifice every Sunday through the emblems of the communion: the bread for His body and the fruit of the vine for His blood. Let us devote seriousness to the memorial, but let us also rejoice with the knowledge of what that death produced: eternal life. That is what we proclaim to the world. May the Lord shine upon you.