Friday, February 09, 2007

Take, eat; this is my body...

Churches throughout the world practice "The Lord's Supper" (or simply "Communion") -- some do this weekly or even more frequently, some only occasionally. They use different forms of bread and wine, but they all quote Jesus's words "This is my body" (Matthew 26.26) and "This is my blood... which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (26.27).

Have you ever wondered what that was like for the disciples? Today's Old Testament reading, which talks about the installation of Aaron and his sons as priests, gives us a picture that may be relevant:
"Take the ram for the ordination and cook the meat in a sacred place. At the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, Aaron and his sons are to eat the meat of the ram and the bread that is in the basket. They are to eat these offerings by which atonement was made for their ordination and consecration. But no one else may eat them, because they are sacred.
Exodus 29.31-33
The disciples no doubt knew about this priestly ritual, and when Jesus said, "This is my body" and handed them the bread, it probably felt a little strange. Their leader, their teacher, their friend -- he was going to be the atonement for them. Meaning that he had to die for their sake. And though they would be eating bread (of which Jesus said, "this is my body") rather than his actual body... well, it still must have felt rather strange.

This is something most of us don't think a lot about today. We may talk to God about things we're concerned about, we try to do what's right, we read the Bible. But the idea that somebody had to die in my place - that's not a happy thought.

But the good news is that he did die for your sins and mine -- and he did it willingly, so great is his love. Something good to remember, just in case you or I ever feel unloved...

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