I intended this post to go up last night, but didn’t get the time to write it yesterday.
Matthew 26:26-29 NKJV
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
1 Corinthians 11:26-32 NKJV
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
The early church took the Lord’s supper very, very seriously. Look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians as quoted above, to eat and drink in an unworthy manner brings judgement on the one who takes it. All this trouble about something that most evangelicals hold to be just a symbol, Paul?
I am deeply concerned that we have grown anti-sacramental as a church. Jesus said “this is my body” and “this is my blood” and then Paul strongly condemned those who partook unworthily saying some were sick and had died as a result. Yet we persist in this notion that these sacraments are mere symbols, a notion which in the rather long history of Christianity is very young indeed; in fact even Martin Luther didn’t accept the doctrine that the were mere symbols, that innovation arose from other members of the reformation movement.
You may ask then, if I am embracing the old Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. I am not, the whole point of the sacraments is that we don’t fully understand them, that is what makes them sacraments. Instead I am saying that in some spiritual way that neither I or anyone else will likely understand this side of heaven, the wine and bread are the body and blood of Jesus Christ. And this is important because as Leviticus 17:11 teaches us:
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’
When we as followers of Christ partake of the Lord’s supper we are taking His life into ourselves for purification and nourishment. We are in a physical, tangible way, embracing the reality of our salvation through Jesus Christ and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit in us.
This Passion week, investigate these things for yourself. Especially go back and read the oldest Christian witnesses. Don’t sell yourself short by denying the inherit spiritual power of this sacrament in your life.