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Fix Your Eyes on Jesus

May 24, 2011

Just the other day I was exercising at the ARC and I bumped into another local pastor who had heard what I had been through and he expressed regret that the local ministerial community could not have done more to intervene and support me, and I appreciated his words.  I explained to him that I believe God intended it for good to give me a new understanding of my vocation.  I feel I’ve always been more of a missionary than a pastor and so now I am going to have the opportunity to be more in the world and less in the church.  He said that he was glad to hear that I was not bitter toward the Lord.  I said no, I didn’t feel any bitterness toward the Lord.  I’ve struggled with some bitterness toward the church, but no bitterness toward the Lord.

As I walked to the car, I had this thought, “How could I be bitter at the Lord?  He carried my cross, he walked the via dolorosa, he was mocked and flogged and crucified in my place.  How could I be bitter at the Lord?” 

So here is what I have learned through this trial.  If you want to keep yourself from bitterness as you suffer, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and his suffering for you.

Be Christ-centered in your theology and not providence-centered in your theology.  Let me explain.  Perhaps you are like me in that you have a theology that lays great stress on the sovereignty of God.  That’s good, but during trials if you only think of the Lord as the sovereign Lord upon his throne who ordains whatsoever comes to pass, you might be tempted to get mad and say “Why, O Lord, have you ordained me to go through this trial?”

But if you fix your mind’s eye upon Jesus and the crown of thorns piercing his brow because of our sins, it’s very hard to stay mad at him.  Very hard to keep complaining in the presence of his suffering love.

And you know what God has used more than anything else to keep my eyes on Jesus this year? … The Lord’s Supper.   The bread and the cup keep his broken body and shed blood before me.

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Different fellowships emphasize different phrases in these words of institution.  Baptists – do this in remembrance of me. Catholics – This is my body.   But I want to underscore the last phrase in verse 26, “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”  The Lord’s Supper is a proclamation.  The Supper preaches.  It proclaims the Lord’s death.  It preaches the gospel to you.  And through that preaching, you receive grace to strengthen your faith.

We are already used to thinking sacramentally about preaching, right?  When you listen to a sermon, it’s not just your brain thinking about the truths and applying it to your life.  No, we believe that through the proclamation of the Word, grace is given and faith is created and strengthened.  Romans 10:17, faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.

So too the preaching of the gospel through the sermon of the Supper gives grace and strengthens faith.  So the next time you come to the Lord’s Table, let me encourage you to come expecting to receive faith-strengthening grace as your hear it proclaiming that his body was broken for you.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2011 6:14 pm

    Glad to see you’re blogging again, occasionally. I’ve been doing less than before, but more than you.

  2. June 17, 2011 11:32 pm

    Great post!

    The Lord wants so much for us to have the assurance of His forgiveness and salvation, that He crams it right down our throats!(in the Supper)

  3. Nick permalink
    October 30, 2011 11:47 pm

    Don’t know if you’re reading comments on your older posts, but I appreciate this one, Mike. Particularly like the contrast between Theology of the Cross and Theology of Glory in the face of hardships. The problem I have found with over-playing the Sovereignty of God is that my questions (why did You ordain THIS?!) butt up hard against what God has chosen to leave hidden (see esp. Deuteronomy 29:29) and I am cast back upon myself with my best guesses at what God is doing, what good can come from this… and my eyes are fixed on me. But when I fix those eyes on Jesus, Christ crucified for us sinners, this miserable wretch finds the comfort ordained – and indeed revealed – by God in His marvelous wisdom.

    The Lord’s Supper is of course a wonder and a comfort to us, this route by which our Lord serves us the fruits of His Cross. Much can be said here, but suffice it to say I recognize treasures at the Altar I did not see years ago! These humble means to which our Lord attaches His word – reflecting (repeating?) the Incarnation in which the God-Man comes to us, for us!

    Thanks be to God for these indescribable gifts!

    • October 31, 2011 7:20 am

      Thanks, Nick. Glad you found the blog. Hope to see you again soon.

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