Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Our Holy Mystery: The Celebration of Communion Part 2
If you ask most Christians what ‘being saved’ means, they would tell you that it means to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ: believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, that He was resurrected on the third day, and that He ascended bodily into heaven and sits at the right hand of our Father God. Perry Stone in his book “The Meal that Heals” points out that the Greek word for saved is “sozo” and it is used 52 times in the English translation of the New Testament. Sozo means “to save, deliver, protect and heal”. Salvation is a complete work of making a person whole in spirit, soul and body.
In our study last week, we looked at Passover. To protect the Hebrews from the angel of death, God instructed each family to take an unblemished young lamb and sacrifice it, placing the blood of the lamb on the left, right, and top posts of the door (forming a cross). Each family was to eat all of the lamb before midnight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. (Exodus 12:7-8) The miracle they would experience through obedience to God was two-fold: They were healed and protected from both sickness and death.
As religious Jews have participated in Passover Seders through the ages, they told the story of God’s miraculous deliverance from Egypt. The Passover bread is baked without leaven – a remembrance that the Hebrew people did not have time to put leaven in their bread before departing. Participants in the Seder drink from four cups of wine, each numbered and specific. The first cup is the Cup of Sanctification; the 2nd cup – the Cup of Affliction; the 3rd cup – the Cup of Redemption; and the final 4th cup – the Cup of Consummation.
As Jesus celebrated the Seder with the 12, He was announcing a new covenant that would be sealed with His very own blood. Jesus, the Passover Lamb, was about to make a way for complete healing and redemption to all who would believe in Him. Jesus did not drink the 4th cup that night.
After the resurrection, Jesus again met with His disciples and broke bread with them. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. (Luke 24:30) Though Jesus would not drink of the 4th Cup (Consummation) until He sat with them again at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the breaking of bread between believers was a continuous tradition in the early church. Believers broke bread daily together and celebrated the resurrection of our Lord. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart. (Acts 2:46).
As long as believers walked in love and were centered on the teachings of Christ, the early Church grew in blessing and grace of the Lord. But like all of us ~ foolishly forgetting the goodness and teachings of Jesus ~ some opened the door to sin and engaged in strife and dissention. Because of this, some members of the early Church received the Lord’s Supper unworthily. It stopped the healing flow of God. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. (I Cor. 11:30)
It is in this context that Paul instructs believers to examine/test themselves. 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. (I Cor. 11:27-29) We are to repent and confess all sin prior to participating in the Lord’s Supper.
Jesus knew that His suffering and death would bring salvation and healing to those who believed. His atonement (at-one-ment) for our sin made way for wholeness and complete healing of body, soul, and spirit. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thessalonians 5:23) The Prophet Isaiah foretold of the total atonement through Jesus, the Messiah:
Our body: Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
Our soul: He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. (Isaiah 53:3,7) and
Our Spirit: Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. (Isaiah 53:10) It was the Father’s will that we be made whole in this life and that we be prepared to fellowship with Him eternally. Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies. (Psalm 103:3-4)
Rejoice! The day you received Christ as Lord, His “sozo” began its complete work in you in making you whole in spirit, soul and body, here and for eternity!!
Next week: Our Holy Mystery: The Celebration of the Lord’s Supper Part III.