Nehemiah 1:2-4 (NIV) 2Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. 3They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” 4When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
Ezra had been successful in restoring the temple and turning the people away from compromise, but the city was still vulnerable because the walls were in ruin. Thirteen years after Ezra’s trip, Nehemiah heard the news from a relative, that the people were discouraged and living in fear because the walls were not restored.
Nehemiah immediately did the same thing Ezra did when he heard news that the people of God were in trouble. He wept, mourned, fasted and prayed. He took the issue straight to the One who could do something about it. Great men of God have a heart for the people and know where the answer to their need is found. His prayer follows a pattern we see throughout the Word of God. First, he adores God. It helps us to remember the omnipotence of the One to whom we are praying. He confesses his sins and the sins of his ancestors. Confession reminds us of who we are and our position of not deserving all the kindness God pours out on us. Then he reminds God of His word. It is not as though God needs to be reminded, but it gives us faith to ask and the confidence that we are praying according to God’s will. If you pray according to the Word of God, you know you are praying as God desires. Finally, he asked God for the favor of the king because he was going to ask him for help in this matter.
Nehemiah was in a very trusted security position. He must have earned that position through years of faithful service and a display of integrity. Those years of commitment may have seemed to have little impact on the Kingdom of God, but they led up to this one moment of influence.
Consider: God knows where He has you and why He has you there. Be faithful and He will use that influence in His time.
1 Corinthians 11:23-25 (NIV) 23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Paul claims to have received this tradition from the Lord Himself. It is the key passage that we refer to when we have communion. We find that the Gospels tell us the same thing. We are to remember the Lord’s death for us on a regular basis. The bread is to remind us of His body that was broken for us. The cup is to remind us we have entered into the new covenant.
The author of Hebrews tells us that the body of Christ is the veil that was torn to allow us access to the Holy of Holies in heaven (Hebrews 10:19-22). Because Jesus died in our place, we have access to God. When we take the bread of communion, we remember the great price that was paid and the privileges we now have because of it. It also reminds us that we are the body of Christ. Though we are many different parts, we are a part of the whole. In this passage, Paul was warning them to be considerate of one another at communion to be sure all could participate. Some were sick and even died because they were taking it lightly and without consideration of other members of the body. He warned us to examine ourselves first.
The cup is representative of the blood of the new covenant. Believers are not under the old covenant of law, but the new covenant of grace. The old was based on our obedience, but the new is based on what Christ has done. The new covenant was predicted to include the very presence of the Spirit of God within us. Covenants were ratified by blood and often by a wound in the hand of the participants. The new covenant is dependent on only one party keeping the terms and so the wound is on His hands alone. Communion calls us to consider these things, but most of all it calls us to remember He gave His life that we might truly live in Him.
Remember: The next time you participate in communion, remember His body was broken for you. Remember the new covenant made with His blood.