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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood

 

Gratitude

Feb. 16, 2014

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. (Mark 14:22,23, NIV)

We learn from Jesus that Communion is taken within community. It is not meant to be a solo act in which an individual goes off by himself to take it alone. Jesus breaks the bread to His disciples as a group. Communion involves presence and participation. We take it together rather than by ourselves.

Over the centuries there has been much discussion as to the meaning of Communion. For example, when we take the bread or the fruit of the vine, do they literally change substance so that we ingest the actual body and blood of Jesus?

Certainly, that view cannot be derived from this text. When Jesus takes the bread and says, “This is my body,” His body and the bread were two separate substances. In that moment of time His body had not morphed into bread.

Jesus simply gives us an object lesson. Even as the bread was broken and distributed, so His body is broken and the nourishment from His life gives life to us. Through Jesus’ choice of bread as a symbol of His body, we can picture Jesus as the Bread of Life. Without bread — the common staple of food — we cannot live.

Next, Jesus takes the cup. He didn’t have to take it. Several hours after this moment, Jesus declared He could call the Father and 12 legions of angels would be put at His disposal (Matthew 26:53). When you consider it was only one legion — the Tenth Legion and some auxiliary troops — that destroyed Jerusalem and Masada 40 years later, you get an idea of the “fire power” Jesus had at His command.

So many of us have circumstances from which we could escape. It’s easy to fantasize what life would be like if we just exited from the difficulties we are in. Are you willing also to drink a cup of trial, suffering, adversity and endurance in order to follow Jesus’ will for your life?

Jesus gives thanks as He faces the immediate hours before Him that will involve betrayal, His agonized prayer in Gethsemane, His disciples forsaking Him, the trials and scourging and crucifixion He will endure. It’s a lesson for us — that we may also give thanks in all things. We don’t give thanks for the things themselves, but for what God is working through all things.

Jesus faces the cross with an attitude of gratitude. He is grateful that He has done — to this point — all that the Father has asked of Him. He gives thanks for the past. But there is also a present thanks as He takes the bread with the men into whom He has poured His life. He knows their weaknesses and failures; but He also anticipates what they will do in subsequent years. He has faith in them, and He is grateful for them.

There are so many things that happen to us that could embitter. But Jesus sets the example. Facing a horrible death, which He did not deserve, He nevertheless gives thanks. How could we do less in our hour of trial? Giving thanks in all things is not easy. It’s hard — at times, seemingly impossible. But gratitude must grow in our hearts or bitterness will take root and destroy us.

A prayer of response

Lord Jesus, may I never have a bitter or ungrateful heart. I want to always live with an attitude of gratitude.



DR. GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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