Flipping the Script on the Passover

September 11, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Posted in Mark | 1 Comment
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And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured [it] on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.

Mark 14:3-5

We know from John 12 that Judas Iscariot was the main instigator of this criticism against Mary because of her supposed wastefulness. It is ironic that Judas (fittingly named “the son of perdition“) criticized Mary for wastefulness, since he is the one who wasted his life following Jesus, but probably never truly believing unto salvation.

There is much scholarly debate and theological dispute about the precise Biblical event which should count as the “birth of the Church,” but here in Mark 14 Jesus institutes the New Covenant.

And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.

Mark 14:22

Jesus was following the traditional passover pattern as He blessed and broke the bread, but then He flipped the script drastically by revealing that this was to be a representation of His own broken body.

And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

Mark 14:23-24

Jesus, despite Roman Catholic dogma, did not literally transform the bread and the wine into His body and blood.

Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

Mark 14:25-26

It seems odd to me that the pattern for almost all modern Christian church services is to sing first, and then to proceed with the rest of the service (preaching, etc.), when, IF this really was the first true meeting of the “Church,” they sang last. In any event, the ordinance of communion is for the purposes of memory and fellowship. Its observance holds no saving merit whatsoever, and it does not infuse any grace ex opere operato.

And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;

Mark 14:32-33

The experiences of Peter, James, and John mirror what would later be expressed by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul.

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

Philippians 3:9-10

They would see Christ’s deity on the Mount of Transfiguation (“that I may know Him;” they would see “the power of His Resurrection” at the home of Jairus; and they would witness “the fellowship of His sufferings” at the Garden of Gethsemane.

And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Mark 14:34-35

Jesus, even in His humanity, said, “Abba, Father.” We who are truly Christians have this privilege also, but we can only call God “Abba” IN CHRIST. As a general rule I don’t like to criticize the way people pray out loud in public or in church meetings. I’m certainly awkward at it myself. But I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of closing public prayers with a mumbled “in Your name we pray.” It is such an awesome privilege to be able to intimately call upon the Father in prayer, and such an enormously high price was paid to purchase this privilege for us, that we ought to be extremely clear about in Whom we dare to approach the Most High with our requests, intercessions, praises, and thanksgivings.

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The Cause, Confusion, and Consequences: Problems with the Lord’s Supper

August 18, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 1 Comment
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In I Corinthians Chapter 11 the Apostle Paul, after addressing some issues concerning head coverings in church services, also addressed abusive practices pertaining to the Lord’s Supper.

Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

I Corinthians 11:17-18

Like many of their problems, the cause of the Corinthian Christians’ problems with their observance of the Lord’s Supper was disunity. The nature of the disunity was made clear:

When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

I Corinthians 11:20-21

The whole point of the Lord’s Supper was supposed to be fellowship and communion, but the rich church members were eating their own meals instead of sharing with the poor members, and apparently some of the poor were looking forward to a free buffet instead of an opportunity to remember Christ’s death. People were using the occasion as a reason for physical excess rather than spiritual worship.

The Holy Spirit through Paul identified their confusion: Worship must involve sacrifice. It is antithetical to selfishness.

Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

I Corinthians 33-34

Furthermore, this is an ordinance of the Church commanded by the Lord, so naturally there are consequences for doing it unworthily.

For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

I Corinthians 11:26

Jesus is the reason for the whole affair – to remember that He instituted the New Covenant in His blood – so it is obvious that it should be a joyous but also a solemn affair.

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

I Corinthians 11:27

“Unworthily” is often said to said to mean that someone with unconfessed sin should not participate in the Lord’s Supper, but none of us are worthy – only Christ is. The context seems to plead for understanding “unworthily” as meaning something done without the proper dignity or motivation for being there, although the next verse does lend support to the idea that we must take an inventory of any sins which are keeping us from fellowshipping with the Lord with a clean conscience:

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

I Corinthians 11:28-29

“Damnation” here refers to consequential judgment, not eternal damnation.

For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

I Corinthians 11:30

The consequences of eating and drinking unworthily in remembrance of Christ’s shed blood and broken body are revealed to be sickness and potential death.

Leavenless Lump

October 10, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Bible Studies, I Corinthians | 9 Comments
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Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

I Corinthians 5:7

The Passover feast was Christ’s appointed time – the time when the spotless Lamb of God would shed His blood for the sins of the world. A little over 2000 years later, under the New Covenant, we remember this occasion by observing the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.

At the Jewish Passover there was to be no leaven in the lump of dough used to make the bread. Leaven is a picture of sin in a congregation. Leaven may be small, but it is powerful. It works secretly. It “puffs up.” It spreads.

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

I Corinthians 5:11

Sometimes the Lord’s Supper is called “Communion,” a word which speaks of common unity. When a group of New Testament Christians assembles to observe the ordinance of Communion, one the worst instances of “leaven” would be feelings of hatred among different members of the body.

Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I Corinthians 5:8

Forgetting To Remember – Part 1

April 23, 2010 at 9:28 am | Posted in Biblical Remembering, I Corinthians | 13 Comments
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And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

I Corinthians 11:24

Many times, the Word of God tells us to do things that it seems like we just should not have to be told to do. “Husbands, love your wives.” (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19); “Wives, submit to your husbands.” (Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18) “Children, obey your parents.” (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20) “Love one another.” (starting in John 13:34 and 18 more times) “Be kind to one another.” (Ephesians 4:32) When we think of all these things that we have to be told to do – often more than once – maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that, even though we owe Him everything, we still have to be told to remember the Lord Jesus Christ.

How could we forget Him, even for a moment? I am afraid it has to do with proximity – with what we are close to.

You might say, “Nothing is closer to me than My Savior! His very blood has washed my soul! He is my Lord, my Master, my Friend, my Constant Companion.” I hope that is your testimony – but you have another one living within you who might argue with you about that: the flesh man. He still desires the pretty things of this world – the pleasurable things of this world. Dare I say, the sinful things of this world? The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – these things are very, very close to him every day. Yes, God’s love, and God’s presence, is far greater and far more powerful than the lure of these things. But the sun’s size and gravitational pull are far greater than the moon’s. In fact, the earth is bigger than the moon. Yet the moon pulls the seas and causes waves. It has a great effect on the earth simply because it is closer to it. That is why, if we are to obey the Lord – and remember Him – we must also be in a constant effort to fortify the spirit man for battle against the flesh man.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

According to the Lord, we are a forgetful people. Perhaps we are too forgetful because we don’t pause to truly consider how glorious our Lord is – and what a glorious thing He has done in providing for our salvation. I once heard a story about a missionary in Asia or the Philippines who preached to a group of Christian converts, and then retired to his own tent for the night. In the morning, when he went back to the place of meeting, he was surprised to find that the converts had not gone home and had not slept all night. He tried to explain to them that, when he left for the night, the meeting had been over, and they had been free to go back to their own homes. “What?” was their shocked reply, “You told us last night that the Son of God died to save us from the punishment we deserve because of our sins, and that He then rose again from the dead! How can we sleep after hearing THAT?” Sadly, in our culture, I am afraid that some us fall asleep while hearing it.

For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

II Corinthians 3:9

The Old Covenant Law was a ministry of condemnation and (in a sense) death.

For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

II Corinthians 3:10-11

The Old Covenant was glorious, but it was a fading glory. When we speak of forgetfulness, we say that the memory is starting to “fade.” But the New Covenant is so much more glorious – it will never fade away – and it must never fade from our memory. We have little trouble remembering the birthdays of so-called “great” men who contributed to our culture, country, or history. We have little trouble remembering the people in our life who have sacrificed for us or done us some great kindness in the past. How much more has Christ done for us!

To be continued…


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