In the wilderness, God told Moses to make the Ark of the Covenant. It was what we would call a wooden chest overlaid with gold. The Ark was a symbol of two things:
First, it was a symbol of God’s Presence. The ark was kept in the Temple which was where Moses heard from God.
The ark was also a symbol of God’s Power. When Joshua entered the Promised Land, the priests carried the ark. Joshua told the people to follow the ark and when the priests’ feet touched the water, the river stopped flowing, and the people were able to cross the Jordan River on dry land (Joshua 3:15-16).
Essentially the ark was a symbol that encouraged the Israelites in their worship of God.
However, it wasn’t to become an idol, or a lucky charm, which is unfortunately what happened. Later when Samuel was just a boy, on their own initiative the Israelites took the ark into a battle. They were following the custom of pagan nations but it wasn’t something God had told the Israelites to do. They lost the battle and for a time lost the ark.
God gives us physical reminders and symbols of his presence but we should never get so wrapped up in the symbols that they become an end in themselves. We should never be afraid to update our symbols, move them or remove them when they are no longer relevant, even if they have been useful in the past.
At the last meal Jesus had with his disciples, he took two common things: the bread and the cup and told his disciples to use them as reminders of the New Covenant or the New Agreement that God was making with his people.
The bread reminds us of Jesus’ body broken for us and the cup reminds us of Jesus’ shed blood. God’s people all over the world celebrate communion, but it may look very different in other cultures, which is completely fine because the bread and cup are simply symbols.
We use the symbols to remember the price he paid for our salvation. We remember God’s great mercy and grace.
Let’s pray …
Thank you Lord that you gave your life so we can live free from sin. You give us these symbols to remind us because you know how quickly we forget. Such ordinary things, bread and wine, yet they remind us of the most significant time in history.
We see the bread, a visual reminder of your body broken and sins forgiven. We are thankful.
We see the cup, a visual reminder of your shed blood and the new life we have in you. Again, we are thankful.
In Jesus’ Name,
For other communion talks click here.