By Stuart Powell
Have you ever taken God’s grace for granted? Have we forgotten that grace does not begin in us? It is a gift we received from God.
A gift is a treasure given to another as an act of generosity and an expression of devotion. God is the owner of grace, and he is the creator of man. God desired to give man the gift of grace, but sin was the barrier to his generosity, the obstacle which prevented God from expressing his devotion. For generations, God’s grace was not available to all people. God had a plan to eliminate the sin that kept his grace from humanity. God shared that plan with the people of Israel in the days of Zechariah the prophet:
I will pour out on the kingship of David and the population of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to me, the one they have pierced. They will lament for him as one laments for an only son, and there will be a bitter cry for him like the bitter cry for a firstborn (Zechariah 12:10, New English Translation).
God promised to freely pour out his grace after humanity had pierced God and lamented God’s death. Zechariah noted that the royal family of David and the city of Jerusalem would be witnesses to God’s suffering. That future, public sacrifice would demonstrate that God would make his grace available to all who look upon and mourn the God who was slain.
Outside of Jerusalem, centuries after Zechariah spoke, God fulfilled his plan. Jesus was pierced on an ugly Roman cross. Grace was poured out on those who lament the death of God’s only Son. We live as recipients of that gift of grace and gather to celebrate that God removed sin as an obstacle between us.
The emblems of Communion help us re-create that scene which makes grace available to all people. The bread is a reminder of the body scourged and nailed to that cross, then buried in the tomb. The cup is a reminder of the blood that poured out from Jesus’ body. They help us see the price God paid to forgive our sinful actions. The emblems keep the power of grace fresh. May we never take God’s gift for granted.
Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.