Lament, into Hope at the Lord's Table

Psalm 22:1, 16, 21-26

    My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
    Why are You so far from helping Me,
    And from the words of My groaning?

16    For dogs have surrounded Me;
    The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
    They pierced My hands and My feet;

21    Save Me from the lion’s mouth
    And from the horns of the wild oxen!
    You have answered Me.
    22      I will declare Your name to My brethren;
    In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
    23      You who fear the LORD, praise Him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
    And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!
    24      For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
    Nor has He hidden His face from Him;
    But when He cried to Him, He heard.
    25      My praise shall be of You in the great assembly;
    I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.
    26      The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
    Those who seek Him will praise the LORD.
    Let your heart live forever!

This table is a table of lament, in a way. Every time we do this, Jesus says, we are proclaiming His death. We are declaring He died, and how that death completes our reconciliation with God. We are also lamenting that this should not have had to happen. It did because we sinned. We also lament that things still are not how they should be. Our communion with the Lord is not as complete as it could be. Injustice, persecution and chains still flourish in the world.

But this table is the source of our hope that the beachhead has been secured, that the enemy ‘s days are numbered.  Jesus took on the greatest servitude, the most unjust treatment, the severest martyrdom. He lamented on the cross, crying out to God. And like the Psalm He quoted, His life was changed from a cry in the dark alone, into praise in the great assembly.

The gospel story is the center. Jesus died and rose. Halfway through the story, everything is going wrong, and death approaches. We have Gethsemane moments. Sometimes that’s where we are in the story, and we have to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus, embracing humiliation, lament and self-denial. But the story didn’t stop there. God raised up Jesus and He will raise you up, not because of any denial or discipline you have done, but just by God’s free grace. This wine is the seal of that truth. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.


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