One of the most difficult tasks of the ministry is the funeral service. As Paul wrote, "Who is sufficient for these things". We find our words shallow and our efforts weak as we try to comfort the families of those who have lost precious loved ones from the shores of this life. Who can say all that needs to be said? What man can reach the soul and calm the troubles waters? During these services I have noticed the crowds of those who have met to remember and honor their loved one at the last service performed in their name. One thing that I have noticed is that those who loved the most draw the nearest. Most of the time, they are most attentive to the preachers words, they linger closer to the casket. At the graveside, they are usually the ones that leave last. In the Church, there is a similar service performed for the death of a loved One. Though we know that He "ever liveth to make intercession for us", we have been encouraged to remember His death lest we forget what it was for and our need for Him ever day. I speak of the death of Jesus.
The time of communion is a time of remembrance. It was in the upper room that our Lord first instituted this ordinance in the New Testament Church. From the bitter herbs of the Old Law service, to the bread and the wine that represented His body and blood, the apostles were transported. Their eyes were lifted above the law, the tables of stone, to view the now revealed mystery of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for their sins. He said, "This do in remembrance of me", as they brake the bread and passed the cup that symbolized His body and blood. Here, too, I find similar postures as at the funeral services. Those who love Jesus best, those who appreciate His death and sufferings most, are those who attend the solemn service. They attend the words spoken about their loved One, consider the sacred emblems of His body and blood and desire a parting embrace from their family members. It is true, as John leaned on Jesus' breast, Judas departed.
This time of remembrance is one that we both revere, yet anticipate with great joy. We revere it because it is a time that we remember Jesus' death and the pain He suffered upon the cross as our sins were placed upon Him. Once again, our tongues are unworthy of the occasion. Surely, the merits of His death deserve an eternity of memorial services. One day we will enter the unending praise! We also dread it because we know we could spend our whole life preparing ourselves for this service and yet find ourselves undone and unworthy to drink the cup and break the bread. Yet, let us rejoice, for we, as sinners, have been greatly honored. We have been personally invited by the One who died to His memorial service. This is the only time that the One who died, Has risen to invite His family to remember His death. We approach the solemn service with joy because we view the merits of His death: our reproach is taken away; our sins are atoned; and Jesus, our conquering King is seated at the right hand of our Father making intercession for us even unto this present hour. Surely, there is a lot to remember when we remember the death of Jesus!
It was that same night, in the upper room, that Jesus knelt at the feet of His disciples and washed their feet. What a scene! The perfect One, humbled Himself at the feet of sinners, and washed their feet. This must be one of the things that the "angels desire to look into". Why would Jesus adore sinners over angels? As He did so, Jesus said, "Ye ought also to wash one another feet". The Bible is not hard to understand, it is just hard for pride and ego to obey. The hard heart and the bitter spirit is dissolved in this service. That is why He began it. If the perfect One could bow before the feet of sinners, surely we should forgive the imperfections of brothers and sisters in Christ's family.
As in the ten commandments, our vertical relationship with our Lord and our horizontal relationship with our brethren, is reflected in this service: we are servants to both. Though some may say that they can be right with God and at variance with their brethren, both law and grace deny it. So we see the importance of the service and the urgency of the commandment, "This do in remembrance of me."
Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church. Singing begins at 10:30 each Sunday morning followed by preaching at 11:00.
By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor.