For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Light means most to us when we find ourselves in deepest darkness. That was true for Paul. He was worn down by life. He had been abandoned by many of his closest friends. He was almost completely alone. He was in Rome in an awful prison. Winter was approaching. His execution now appeared to be certain. Luke ministered to the grizzled old apostle on his visits to the prison. Meanwhile, Paul asked for Timothy to come to him as quickly as possible.
In this time of deepest darkness and unspeakably harsh conditions, Paul’s light was his confident hope in his Lord. The Jesus who had died for his sins had also risen from the dead. Jesus was victorious over sin, death, hell, and every power — demonic, political, and religious — that had allied together to snuff out his life and his legacy. Because of Jesus’ victory in the resurrection, our victory over sin, death, hell, and every power allied against us is assured.
In the face of his impending death, Paul looked forward to life with Jesus (Philippians 1:18-24). He looked forward to the victor’s crown that would be awarded to him at Jesus’ return. Paul then added words that should mean everything to us as we gather around The Table. The victor’s crown wouldn’t just go to Paul. Jesus will also give the victor’s crown “to all who have longed for his appearing.” That can be us. That should be us!
Paul reminded the Corinthians:
For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Notice that last phrase — “until he comes. Communion is not just remembering the darkness that descended upon the earth during the awful suffering of our Savior. When we take The Lord’s Supper, we are also reminded to look forward. We anticipate our victor’s crown because we long for our Savior’s appearing!
We take bread and wine, yet for us this meal is something far beyond bread and wine. We share the body and blood of Jesus. Communion is a stark and tangible reminder of God’s incarnation into mortal flesh in Jesus. Jesus’ body was pierced, beaten, scourged, and nailed to a cross before a jeering mob. But despite the torture and humiliation, we can look ahead to glory because love triumphed over hate. In the resurrection, Jesus’ life triumphed over death and the grave.
Each time we eat this simple meal we don’t have to leave The Table in sorrow, but in expectation. Our Lord didn’t stay in the grave; he triumphed over it. Our Jesus didn’t just go back to heaven to hide; he reigns and is returning for us. In Communion, we don’t lose ourselves in grief over Jesus’ death. We rejoice fully assured that death no longer holds us captive because Jesus is raise, reigning, and returning for us. We leave the Table longing for that greater day, our victorious day, because of Jesus!
Prayer for the Bread:
Prayer for the Cup:
Almighty God, thank you for this wine which for us is Jesus’ blood. We know it is the sign of our new covenant relationship with you and a reminder of the suffering of our Savior. Thank you, dear Father, that Jesus knows our struggles with abandonment, betrayal, ridicule, and death. Thank you most of all that he emerged victorious over all that holds us captive when he rose from the dead. We long for his appearing and our home with you. In the powerful name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
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