(Prepared to go along with a sermon on Acts 24:24-26 titled “When It’s Convenient”)
Solomon wrote, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV) This year in particular I’m enjoying the change in the seasons from Winter to Spring. From my office window I can see a tree. Just the other day I noticed that it was totally covered with green leaves. How did that happen so fast? It seems the last time I looked there was nothing but bare limbs, stark against sullen, cloudy skies. Suddenly, much of the sky is blocked by leaves and sunlight shines on delicate shades of green. It’s a welcome reminder of the rhythms of nature. That things occur when the time is appropriate.
Something which intrigues me in the Gospel of John is the comments he makes about time. At least twice, Jesus refused to take action because, He said, that His time had not come. On at least two other occasions, those who wished to harm Jesus could not do so because His time had not yet come. But then, as Jesus came near to the end of His ministry He said more than once that the time had come.
What time? Time for what? Jesus said this to some Greeks who came to see Him, “...The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:23-25 NIV)
What Jesus was saying was that the time had come for Him to die. It was time for Him to give His life as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.
When we stop and think about it, there are two parts to salvation. Salvation not only has to be prepared and offered, it also has to be received. God is the only One who could prepare and offer it. However, He isn’t going to force us to take it. It’s a personal decision each one of us has to make for ourselves. Salvation is available for the asking – but we have to ask.
And this raises a question: Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave at the right or appropriate time to make salvation possible, but what is the appropriate time to receive it? Scripture answers the question by saying that the right or appropriate time to receive salvation is NOW. If we are not already in Christ, we should not dither or procrastinate about submitting our lives to Him. The Apostle Paul writes, “As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2 NIV)
In the busyness of life; in the routines of going to work or school; in the constant ups and downs of raising a family, it’s easy to forget that now is the time of God’s favor. We tell ourselves that we don’t have time to think about spiritual things. It’ll wait until tomorrow when we have a little more time. But the time of salvation isn’t tomorrow – it is now. Today is the only day we can be sure of. We can’t go back and re-live yesterday. We don’t know whether there will even be a tomorrow. And so we need to make sure of our salvation now, while we have the opportunity.
Jesus knew how forgetful we are. He knew that we would need to be reminded that today is the day of salvation. He knew that even those of us who have already become Christians would tend to take our salvation for granted. And so, He gave us a memorial. The unleavened bread we eat each Sunday reminds us that Jesus paid the price for our redemption with His own body. The juice we drink reminds us of His blood which covers our sins.
Since the last time those of us who are Christians participated in this memorial, we’ve all sinned and haven’t lived up to God’s standards as we ought. The bread and juice are a reminder that now is the time to deal with those sins. Now is the time to ask Christ to cleanse us once again.
If you haven’t yet become a Christian, then the bread and juice really aren’t for you. But please use what we’re doing as reminder that Christ died for you, too, and today is your opportunity to get right with God.
As we eat and drink, let’s make sure of our salvation. Let’s come to God with repentant hearts. Let’s commit ourselves again to live for Christ.