|Vol. 1, No. 9||Page 3||September 1999|
The World’s Greatest Monument
By Allen Webster
Statues are raised to honor great men; calendars date the world’s important events; scenes of outstanding battles are forever marked. Colleges and hospitals name buildings in honor of beneficiaries; streets are called after the famous who travel them. Everybody who is anybody has a biography lining a library shelf. How could one choose the greatest monument? Is it the tallest? Most read? Widest known? Most expensive?
The world’s greatest monument neither originated in man’s mind nor was designed by a renowned artist. It is not even recognized by most historians. Its picture is not regularly taken nor is it mentioned in travel magazines. It originated in the mind of God and was set up in honor of his crucified Son. For about ten minutes each first day of the week, Christians keep a feast in honor of the One who lived and died for them. They remember his life, lessons and especially his death. Consider what makes the Lord’s Supper so unique.
It Is Indestructible Though Destroyed.Marble slowly crumbles, bronze defaces, dates drop from calendars, biographies go out-of-print; streets are renamed after new heroes. Men’s monuments do not last, but God’s memorial remains. It is two thousand years old now and will last until the Lord returns. At the same time, its component parts deteriorate with a few days. Left unattended, the grape juice soon ferments and the unleavened bread soon molds. Interestingly, it is indestructible precisely because it is destroyed. Saints destroy the bread and juice each Lord’s Day; yet, it becomes a part of them. As one generation commits the truth to the next (1 Timothy 2:2), the Supper will remain until Jesus comes back. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come (1 Corinthians 11:26).
It Is Universal While Limited To One Place.Stalin’s monument has never enjoyed popularity in America. Robert E. Lee might be popular among some in the South, but above the Mason-Dixon his memory is not highly favored. Dr. King is loved by many, but not by all. Hitler may receive honor in Germany, but the world frowns on him. There are few monuments that receive universal support. In cities nationwide and countries worldwide, the communion will be kept this Sunday. No other monument is in as many continents, countries, cities and communities. It is not limited to one place like a statue or to one country like a Memorial Day. Neither eastern land nor western civilization can lay exclusive claim to it. It is, though, limited to one place – it must be eaten in the Lord’s kingdom. Just hours before his death, Jesus said, “For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come . . . That ye may eat and drink at my table in the kingdom . . .” (Luke 22:18, 30). Incidentally, those who do not believe the kingdom has come (e.g., premillennialists), are inconsistent when eating the Supper for Jesus said it would be “in the kingdom” (Matthew 26:29).
It Gives Life And Takes It.The communion is life-giving. It provides nourishment for the physical body and strength for the soul. By remembering the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, commitments are renewed each week to live for the Savior (1 Peter 2:21). But it can be soul condemning. Speaking of those who partook unworthily, Paul said, “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” (1 Corinthians 11:28-29). Since the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and abusing the Lord’s Supper is sin, then to take it unworthily brings spiritual death. Properly taken, the Lord’s Supper gives life. Improperly taken, it destroys.
It Is Simple In A Complex Way.A child understands that the bread represents the broken, punished, tortured body of Christ (Luke 22:19). A preschooler can see the likeness in the vine’s cup and the Savior’s blood (Luke 22:20). At the same time, the depths of truth that surround the Lord’s Table challenge great minds. How does one comprehend love that dies for the unlovely (Romans 5:8)? Why did Jesus come to earth as a man (in a body) in the first place (John 1:14; Luke 19:10)? What is the significance of blood in the Bible? God has always required blood to seal a covenant (Deuteronomy 5:2; Genesis 8:20; 15:9-10; Matthew 26:28). When the covenant at Sinai was given, Moses sprinkled blood on the people (Exodus 24:8; cf. 24:3-12). John Mac Arthur writes:
When God brought reconciliation with Himself, the price was always blood, because “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22; cf. 1 Peter 1:2). A sacrificial animal not only had to be killed but its blood had to be shed . . . Although Jesus did not bleed to death, He bled both before He died and as He died – from the wounds of the crown of thorns, from the lacerations of the scourging, and from the nail holes in his hands and feet. After He was dead, a great volume of His blood poured out from the spear thrust in His side. The blood . . . symbolized . . . the giving of His unblemished, pure, and wholly righteous life for the corrupt . . . sinful lives of unregenerate men . . . (New Testament Commentary, Matthew 24-28, Moody Press, p. 152-153).Jesus mentions His blood in connection with the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:28; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:25). The cup reminds of the horror of sin – it caused the “Passover Lamb” to be killed (John 1:19; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8). The juice speaks of the price paid for the church (Acts 20:28). It reminds the partaker of his baptism when he was washed in blood (Romans 6:3-4; John 19:34; Revelation 1:5; Acts 22:16). It impresses with the need to walk in the light, so the blood will continually cleanse (1 John 1:7).
You don’t have to go on vacation
to see the world’s greatest monument. It’ll come by you in your pew