Tuesday, January 21, 2014

365 Days with God - Day 32: Meaningful sacrifice

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 32, January 21, 2014
Readings: Psalm 31, Genesis 28:10-22, 2 Chronicles 5, Luke 22:1-46

What advantage is there in following traditions? Rituals? Some believe in superstitions. Many religions have vast requirements for their followers. What about Christianity?

Many would say that Christian "traditions" are Christmas, Easter and other holidays surrounding the faith. Some might even throw in some Jewish traditions such as passover. And these traditions do serve a purpose - they are reminders of who God is, and what He has done for us.

But in the grand scheme of things, they don't mean a thing. Jesus never says "celebrate my birth with gifts and a fat dude," or "hide brightly colored eggs for your kids to remember my resurrection." In fact, the New Testament has but one tradition: Communion.

And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, "Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood." (Luke 22:18-20)

What's so important about communion? Why do this during passover? Let's look back a little farther to one of Jesus' great-great-great-something-grandfather's day:

And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to it's place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the Most Holy Place, underneath the wings of the cherubim." (2 Chronicles 5:6-7)

Wow. This is the scene of the first time that God came to dwell with man, in the house that Solomon had made. Too many sacrifices to be counted. All for the celebration of God's coming to dwell with Israel. To remember that a sacrifice is required to atone for sins. That sin leads to a debt of death, and that debt must be paid.

But countless sheep and oxen couldn't do it. Otherwise, we'd still be involved in a bloodbath today. But the beauty of Jesus' coming is that he is the sacrificial lamb. He broke all the old traditions, rituals and requirements. Instead of the slaughter of countless animals, there is only One. And just as in Solomon's day, the sacrifice also points to a monumental event - the moment when God comes to live with us.

Communion is the remembrance of Jesus' sacrifice for us. But it is also a celebration of His coming to dwell in humanity, in those He has saved. I think my favorite name for Jesus is emmanuel, God with us. He has overcome sin and death. He has come to live with us. Communion may be the only tradition Christians have, but it sums up the most important tenants of the faith:

- The sins of the world require payment, and that payment is death.
- Jesus paid the price for our sins.
- Because of His grace, we are free!
- Because of His sacrifice, He has a home with us.

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