“This is my body. This is my blood.”

Christianity is more than just a philosophy or a way to live your life. The Gospel is more than simply a theory about the universe and humanity, or an idea to guide you in your actions. It is more than a set of values to live by. The Gospel is news – it is a report about a factual event, and all the implications that flow from the reality of that event. And at the center of that event is a man.

“These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” – John 20:31

 

On the night of his betrayal, Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples, in an upper room of a home in Jerusalem. Where the house was, why that room, and how that scene looked is something we will never know, and don’t need to. But on that night, Jesus gave his disciples – and us – a priceless treasure.

“As they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.’” (Mark 14:22-24).

As the Gospel spread and more people came to faith in Jesus, those early Christians carried on their remembrance of this event, as Jesus had commanded his disciples. Paul wrote at length to the Christians in Corinth about the meaning of this meal, repeating the story and Jesus’ words, so that Christians for all ages would know that when they receive the Lord’s Supper, they are receiving Christ’s true body and blood for the forgiveness of their sins.

But this is unbelievable. It is, in the purest meaning of the word, incredible. When we eat the bread we are somehow also eating Jesus’ body? When we drink the wine we are also somehow drinking Jesus’ blood? Seems quite impossible. There’s no evidence. You can’t test the elements and find proof. There’s no logic. How can Jesus’ body and blood be given so many times to so many people in so many places?

Yet, there are his words. “This is my body. This is my blood.” Do I believe his words?

The foundational event at the center of Christianity is Jesus’ death and resurrection. If Jesus truly died, and if he truly rose to life again, then the implications are infinite. To explore just this one for now, if Jesus truly died and truly rose to life again, then it means that he is, as he said, the Son of God. If he truly died and rose again, then it means that there is nothing of which he is not capable. If Jesus truly died and rose again, then it means that whatever he says, no matter how incredible, is absolutely true.

If Jesus died and rose again, then it means that when I eat the bread and drink the cup, I receive his body and blood for the forgiveness of my sins.

I believe Jesus died and rose again. Why? I could tell you about the empty tomb and the failure of Jesus’ enemies to produce a body or any evidence that he was still dead. I could tell you about the many witnesses who saw him alive again, and the fact they were willing to die for their testimony. I could tell you about the generations of archeologists who have tried to find proof that Jesus’ resurrection was a hoax and have come up empty again and again and again.

But that’s not why I believe. I believe because a thing resounds when it rings true, and this truth echoes in all the empty places inside of me. A beggar doesn’t need proof that the bread that fills his empty stomach is truly food. To put it plainly, my soul needs Jesus, and when I hear these words, I know it, and I believe it.

And with it, I believe Jesus’ words. “This is my body. This is my blood.”

Advertisements

Lessons from the Passover: The Cup of Redemption

Someone once warned me that if I ever take part in a real Passover ceremony, I should first look at how big the wine cups are. That seems an odd warning, but if you understand the Passover, you understand why. The Passover ceremony includes drinking four cups of wine, and this does not include anything you drink during the supper. These cups correspond to four statements of God from Exodus chapter 6: (1) “I will bring you out” (2) “I will free you” (3) “I will redeem you” (4) “I will take you as my own”. 

The first two you drink at the beginning of the supper. The third and fourth come after the meal has been eaten. 

“After the supper, he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood…” Which cup? It would be the cup that comes right after the supper, the third cup, the cup of redemption.

In that moment with his disciples Jesus made it clear that redemption is inextricably, intimately, miraculously intertwined with his blood. Redemption is found in his blood alone. Receiving his blood is to receive redemption.

There are no accidents.

Lessons from the Passover: The Afikomen

For good little Jewish children who sit nicely through the Passover meal, there is a fun tradition that involves a piece of matzah bread. Before the supper part – which takes place in the middle of the ceremony – the middle piece of the three pieces of matzah is taken, broken into two pieces, and the larger piece, called the afikomen, is hidden in a small cloth or bag somewhere in the room. After the supper, the children get to hunt for it, and the one who finds it gets a prize, usually a piece of candy or a coin or small trinket. It’s a nice tradition that involves the children and makes the Passover a little more fun for them.

But as I’m sure you’ve guessed, there is a lot more to the tradition than just fun for the kids. Read any contemporary Jewish Passover guide, and what you’ll read about the afikomen will be about the same as what I wrote above. Modern Jews have lost sight of the meaning and purpose behind this tradition, and have brought it down to the level of a children’s game. I am guessing it is because there is unmistakable symbolism tying this tradition to Jesus Christ.

 

Continue reading “Lessons from the Passover: The Afikomen”