In Remembrance of Me

remember-me

It was an event referred to as `The Last Supper’, `The Lord’s Supper’, or the new covenant. It was during the last meal Jesus had with his disciples before he was betrayed, arrested, tried, beaten, scourged and crucified.

Some of the different facets of this precious moment were captured in:

  • Matthew 26: 26-28 – Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Almost similar account in Mark 14:22-24)
  • Luke 22:19-20 – And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 – 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.”

It is disturbing to learn that some had used the Holy Communion as a means for physical healing, health or wealth. I wonder where in this straightforward command was there any inclination or link towards physical healing, health or wealth? If we have to use the term `healing’, it would refer to our deliverance and restoration from spiritual death or decay. 

Matthew Henry had aptly explained: “Sin is not only a crime for which we were condemned to die, and which Christ purchased for us the pardon of, but it is a disease which tends directly to the death of our souls, and which Christ provided for the cure of. By his stripes, that is, the sufferings he underwent, he purchased for us the Spirit and grace of God, to mortify our corruptions, which are the distempers of our souls; and to put our souls in a good state of health, that they may be fit to serve God, and prepare to enjoy him.”

`In Remembrance of Me’ means to remember what Christ has done for us each time we partake of the Holy Communion. Period. Our personal reflection or response to this should be on our spiritual condition, such as how we have been following, obeying and doing his will in our lives.

I pray O Lord that our lives will bring glory to Your Name and thank You for giving us this freedom from sin and death so that we are able by Your mercy and grace to live in joyful obedience to Your will. Amen.

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Cock-a-doodle-doo, 3 strikes and you’re out!

Peter

Peter was one of the 12 disciples and there were many accounts on his encounters with Jesus in the gospel. One of them was the rooster crowing as a reminder of Jesus prediction of Peter’s denial of him. It was at the time when Jesus was betrayed and was about to be arrested and the following account was written in the book of John 13:36-38 ESV:

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

And indeed, soon after Jesus was arrested and was being taken away to be brought before the High Priest, and subsequently to Pontius Pilate, a Roman governor. The accounts about Peter’s reaction was recorded:

Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself. (John 18:15-18 ESV)

Peter Denies Jesus Again

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed. (John 18:25-27 ESV)

Peter seemed like an impulsive and impetuous chap, at times `cocky’ (maybe this was how that term came about). For example, when Jesus was washing the disciples’ feet:

Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” (John 13:8-9 ESV)

He was the one who drew a sword and cut off the ear of one of the men who came to arrest Jesus. He was also the first to walk on water to approach Jesus:

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” (Matthew 14:28-30 ESV)

Usually such a person in our company of friends will get shunned or made fun of for being arrogant or `cocky’. Often they will be caught in fights or arguments and get into all sorts of trouble. However, how did Jesus relate with Peter during his time with him?

There were several crucial times where Jesus had chosen 3 of his disciples, Peter, James and John to be with him when he went to the house where a child laid dead with her parents (Luke 8:51), and when he went up a mountain to pray (Luke 9:28) just before he was going to be arrested. Jesus also said to Peter, “Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32 ESV). It was expected that Peter would respond by saying, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” (Luke 22:33 ESV) and thereafter, he denied Jesus 3 times.

Look again at what Jesus said to Peter “and WHEN you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” He knew the heart of Peter and loved him warts and all. Later we will find that Peter became one of the great apostles and wrote some of the letters in the bible. There was a transformation over his life, he repented and was changing from being that `cocky’ chap to a great teacher and apostle of that time. Although snippets of his character do come about, he was learning and changing, ever obedient to the Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit. For example when Peter had a kind of a vision and saw on a sheet, all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” (Acts 10:12-15 ESV). Later Peter was told by the Spirit to meet a centurion (non-Jew) and to share the good news to him and the people around him. Peter realised what God was teaching him:

So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. (Acts 10:34-35 ESV)

A life touched by Jesus should be one that leads to change and transformation towards being more like Jesus and abiding in his word more and more. Peter was clearly moving in that direction and indeed brought glory to God for all that he did till his death.

My prayer is that my life will continue to be transformed to be more like Jesus. That I will be able to turn and strengthen others. That through it all, I will be able to love and cherish God more and more for who he is and what he has done for me.

Wealth

Wealth

Numerous books on getting wealth and riches

Wealth is often associated with riches, in terms of monetary or material possessions which will usually be far more than what an average working adult could obtain. Some would have wealth through an inheritance like people from a royal family or families of business moguls or tycoons. Others, through a windfall from a lottery, winnings of a game or challenge, or being bought over for an app, software or property at an astronomical amount.

Generally, wealth is measured in monetary terms. The term money has been referred to as mammon in the bible and it has been regarded as a god or master. This explains the following verse:

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” – Luke 16:13 ESV.

You may find it hard to accept that a clear line has been drawn. The following story may be even harder to accept:

A man went up to Jesus and asked him what he has to do to get eternal life and when Jesus said he has to keep the commandments to enter life. The man then asked which commandment and Jesus listed some from the Ten Commandments and the man said he has obeyed them all and he asked Jesus, “What do I still lack?” Then Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this juncture, the young man went away sad because he had great wealth – Matt 19:16-30.

Why is it that a man so sincere in wanting to have eternal life, could not give up what he has which was temporal, in order to gain what is eternal?

So the verse mentioned earlier stands true in that one cannot serve two masters. It showed that the values of this world is opposite of what God values. For example, Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees who loved money:

“You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.” – Luke 16:15 NIV.

It is not money that is the problem here but the love of it. It is where the heart is, that is the point and answer all the time and all the while.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:21 NIV.

Reflection

“I guess it all comes down to where your heart is. It’s where your thoughts and feelings all begin, but if you never give your heart to Jesus, you’ll never really have a part in him.” This was the first stanza of an old song I used to sing in youth meetings and it was an all-time favourite. At that time, I believe I liked it more because it had a pleasant tune and was a nice song to sing along to.

I am happy to find this song on Youtube so you can hear it here as well:

Now that the words had come to me again, I ask myself these questions:

Where is my heart today?

What matters to me as I go about each day and what occupies my thoughts and feelings?

I pray that my heart be true for God and be changed if it is not. Amen.

Three

snoopy's brother

Three disciples, Peter, James and John accompanied Jesus to the point where he was going to pray. He was greatly distressed and troubled and I am quite sure these disciples would have noticed this unusual and never before state that Jesus was in. He even said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” and he went further away to pray alone. I find it hard to accept that this simple request to remain there and watch could not be followed by the three, perhaps the closest or most obedient of all the disciples.

When Jesus came back from praying for about an hour, he found the three of them sleeping and questioned, “Could you not watch one hour?” He repeated the same request for them to watch and went to pray again but in all three times, he found them asleep when he returned. Yes, it was stated that their eyes were very heavy but he warned them to “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Later, when Jesus was betrayed and brought to the high priest, Peter who was loitering near the vicinity, was pointed out by a servant girl saying that he was with the company of Jesus and Peter denied knowing Jesus and this happened three times. On an earlier occasion, Jesus told Peter that he would deny him three times by the time the rooster crowed twice and the rooster did crow twice by the third denial and thereafter, Peter broke down and cried.

I was taken aback by how it took three times before one would realise something was wrong or that you have made the mistake. Reflecting on the `human’ condition (the flesh), it is so easy to succumb to the weakness of the body instead of leaning on the strength that comes from the spirit. If this was not possible to overcome, Jesus would not have said to the three disciples “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Now I ask myself these questions:

Would I need to make a mistake before I learn or obey?

How can I avoid a repeated scenario before I realise my wilful ways?

Reference

Mark 14:27-31 Peter’s denial was predicted

Mark 14:32-42 Three disciples fell asleep three times

Mark 14:66-72 Peter’s denied knowing Jesus three times

One thing

One thing

Numbers have intrigued me recently. Not the book of Numbers but actual numbers like 300, 5000 and 4000 were the titles of recent posts that focused on stories from the bible. This one is by far the most intriguing for me. I hope the following would explain why.

The person in focus in this story taken from Mark 10:17-27 was about a rich young man who ran up to Jesus and knelt down before him to ask how he could inherit eternal life. The man said he had followed all the laws that was required of him and had been diligent and obedient from a young age. Jesus knew this man’s heart and asked him: You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” This young man turned away in sorrow and despair. It was because he had many possessions and it was clear that he could not part with them.

One of the thoughts I had was whether Jesus was asking too much. Yes, it was one thing but it was a whole lot of `one thing’ for this man. However, after reading again carefully, Jesus said, “You LACK one thing”. That man had a lot of things but he lacked ONE thing. Ok, the subsequent verses also talked about how difficult it is for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God such that even the disciples asked Jesus, “Then who can be saved?”.

What is that lack? I believe that it has to do with the heart. The heart is meant to be given to God and like that rich young man, we can do all the rituals and follow all the laws diligently and daily but never really give our heart to God. Something or someone else has gotten our heart above God. This reminds me of another passage from Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Well, the story focused on wealth that has taken the heart of that young man away from God but this can apply to anything that has taken our heart away from God.

I ask myself this question “What is that ONE thing I lack, that is holding me back from God?” I know some of us may be thinking that there are MANY things… but we need to start somewhere.

Man shall not live by bread alone

one loaf

I have heard people say they have read the whole bible and some may have read it several times over and in my teens, I used to envy them. It was daunting to read 66 books that have over a thousand chapters in all and at that time, most bibles were of the old english language known as the King James version so it was even harder to read or understand. Soon and thankfully more `current’ english versions became readily available such as, the good news and living bible, and the new international versions.

Just reading the bible is not the point really. I realised that even though I have read some of the books in the bible several times over the years, the words I read before will have a different impact or effect on me when I read them again at another time. This opened my eyes to the meaning of some of the often quoted verses or phrases from the bible such as in Matthew chapter 4 verse 4 when Jesus answered, “it is written,`Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Prior to this, Jesus had been in the desert for 40 days and nights. He had been fasting and became hungry so the devil tempted him and said, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

The past two posts, 5000 and 4000 which represented the numbers of people that Jesus fed with 5 and 7 loaves of bread respectively, showed how much God can do with so little that we have. We might think the disciples would have gotten the idea after this two major miracle episodes. However, when they went on a boat to another place with Jesus, and discovered they had forgotten to bring bread and had only one loaf on the boat, “.. they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread.” (Mark 8:16). If you read on verses 17 to 21 you will find Jesus asking them several questions, such as “Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?”. 

Increasingly, I see why the bible is also called the LIVING word and why the need for us to meditate on it day and night. Food like bread will not give life as we think it does. What then is food or life? In John 4:34, “Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”

Here I ask myself these questions:

  • What is that `one loaf of bread’ or the lack of it that I am worried or fussing about?
  • How am I reading the word of God?

4000

A few small fish and 7 loaves

The people gathered to listen to Jesus and actually stayed on in that desolate place to be with him. It was not just for one evening like when he was with the 5000 but for 3 whole days and they also had no food to eat. Jesus told his disciples that he had compassion for them and if they were sent back in this state, they may faint along the way. This time, the people numbered about 4000.

The disciples responded to Jesus by questioning how in such a desolate place and with just some bread can they feed the multitudes. Jesus asked how many loaves do they have and they replied 7. Somehow they also had a few small fish. Jesus again gave thanks and blessed what was available and fed the 4000 till they were satisfied and they collected 7 baskets full of leftovers.

Few Fish and 7 Loaves

What’s up with the 12 grown up disciples again? I thought not too long ago, they witnessed the 5000 being fed with not only less than what they had but with 1000 lesser mouths to feed.

Were they troubled about giving the little food they had? With the 5000 people, they were considering the cost of feeding them which was 200 days worth of wages and obviously they do not have the means.

What are our considerations?

– Mark 8:1-10