Thursday, April 2, 2015

Forgiveness and Assurance

And 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.  And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.  Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”  (Mark 14:22-25)

On the night He was betrayed, Jesus gave of Himself to the disciples.  From the washing of feet (John 13:1-20) to prayer on their behalf to the Father (John 17:1-26), the entire evening was a time to build up and prepare these men for what would shortly take place.  In the middle of their meal, the disciples received a most unexpected and precious gift—“This is my body…this is my blood.”  Based on conversation and conduct yet that evening, they missed the import of these words.

Our Lord desired that all men be united with Him as He was with the Father.  This could only be accomplished by feeding on Christ, a subject to which Jesus alluded months before (John 6:51-55).  One must partake of Him.  Some disciples understood this was a hard teaching, even offensive (John 6:60-61).  How do we understand this?  Hilary of Poitiers helps when he writes:
As to the truth of the flesh and blood [of Jesus’ body] there is no room left for doubt.  For now both from the declaration of the Lord Himself and our own faith, it is truly flesh and truly blood.  And these when eaten and drunk, bring it to pass that both we are in Christ and Christ in us.  (On the Trinity, 8.14)
Feeding on the body and blood, then, effectively unites us with Him and assures us of forgiveness.  It is to this we return as we take the bread and cup, and continually “taste and see that the Lᴏʀᴅ is good” certain that “Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Ps 34:8).

1 comment:

John Wiers said...

Steve, it's clear that you have a more "Reformational" understanding of the Lord's supper than the typical "mere memorial" view so prevalent in much of Evangelicalism. I'm pleased to see that.

I believe that if others could recover this, even if they didn't completely understand all of the details the Reformers spilled so much ink over, modern believers could have a much richer experience when they celebrate the Supper.

Feeding on Christ is a wonderfully rich way of putting what Calvin referred to as the spiritual presence of Christ in the Supper. While he disagreed with Luther on the actual way we feed on Christ, both believed that we really do feed on Christ, the true source of our spiritual life when we receive the Lord's Supper.