“You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” – Psalm 51:16-17(NLT)
Communion: A Bittersweet Reminder of Christ’s Sacrifice
This past Sunday we had communion at church. During the meditation, the pastor challenged us to reflect of Christ’s sacrifice. Not an unusual challenge, but yesterday he asked us to think of Christ’s sacrifice, specifically, in personal terms—Christ died and suffered for me. It’s not a new thought but one that is easy to gloss over after years of taking communion.
At my church, the term “celebrate communion” is often used. Communion is a wonderful symbolic reminder of the love God has for everyone. It is a joyous celebration of the gift Christ purchased through His death and resurrection; offering eternal life to anyone who accepts the gift.
Although joyous for us, Christ did suffer. Christ suffered so you and I would not have to. He suffered so you and I could go free from the penalty of sin. What a sobering thought. Wounded, beaten, bruised and killed; the punishment that belonged to you and me Christ endured so we could go free.
Responding to His Sacrifice
In light of that, I can’t help but look at me as I look at what the Savior did in my place. What response does the cross demand from me?
David’s words from Psalm 51 came to my mind. This is a paraphrase from The Message.
Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice. Psalm 51:16-17 (MSG)
God doesn’t need a sacrifice. Aren’t you glad you don’t need to bring a lamb to church with you for sacrifice? (I know my pastor is!!) He doesn’t need our money. He doesn’t need our stuff. He doesn’t want our committee service. He doesn’t want our nice clothes and religious decorum.
So what does God want from us in return? A broken and contrite heart or heart-shattered life, ready for love; that is what God wants. That is why Sweetly Broken is one of my favorite songs.
The undeserved gift was purchased at a great price; Christ’s life. It was because of God’s love and because of His justice. We could not provide a perfect sacrifice. Our own death would not be enough to appease God’s justice. So, Christ came, suffered and died. If the cross does not bring us to our knees in love and gratitude, we don’t fully recognize what took place when Christ died.
Recognizing Christ’s Transforming Gift
It’s that realization that God wants. He wants us to recognize that our hopeless, sinful state completely turned around at the cross. He wants His gift to replace the pride and self-sufficiency in our hearts with love and gratitude for Him.
God knows once love fills our hearts; our hands loosen up with generosity, our service becomes an act of love and gratitude and outward appearances don’t matter. The love God showed to us is the love we begin to show others.
That is the demand of the cross. Not that we suffer a physical death, it’s that pride dies. It’s that God’s love is resurrected in the heart of the believer.
Father, how wondrous is Your redeeming love and how great is Your faithfulness!! I want to live in brokenness, in sweet surrender to You. I will let love and gratitude replace my selfish pride. Thank you for the cross.