My nephew, Kevin Austin, is a missionary in Northern Thailand. Recently he posted this story on his web site. In the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand long ago, an invading army approached the gates of the city ready to make war. But before the war began the king of Chiang Mai and the king of the opposing army met and agreed to a contest to decide the fate of the city. Each army would choose a champion to dive into the water of the moat. The man who stayed under longest would decide the outcome of the imposing war.
The two men dove into the water. The invading army lost because the man from Chiang Mai never surfaced. Later they discovered that he had tied himself to a branch deep in the water, giving his life to save his people.
C.S. Lewis writes that the Christ becoming man is like a diver who dives into the water, finds a great prize, then surfaces with his prize. The water is this mortal life. The prize is us. Unlike the great man who gave his life for the people in Chiang Mai, Jesus surfaced -- he rose again victorious.
And it was all for our salvation. As Paul says in Romans 4:25, "He was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification." A few verses later he adds, "If, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his son, much more surely, having been reconciled, we will be saved by his life" (5:10).
It is altogether fitting and proper that we should gather at this table to remember the death of our Lord upon the cross, but in this new year, as we think about new life and hope, it is equally fitting that we remember also his resurrection. These two gospel events are pictured in our baptism as we die to sin and self, are buried in the water, and raised to walk in newness of life. They should also be kept in mind as we come to the table. Yes, he died because of our trespasses, and we are reconciled to God through his death, but as Paul adds, "he was raised for our justification," and "we are saved by his life."
As we come to the Lord's table in this new year we can celebrate new life in him.