Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Mystery and Power of Communion: Part III

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven." John 6:32. Six days a week, God caused bread from heaven to fall on the ground during the night to give strength and sustenance to the Hebrew people in their journey to the Promised Land. Before manna was eaten, it had to be gathered and ground on millstones or beat in mortar to bake into flat cakes.

Like many churches, HCBC uses a Jewish bread called Matzo for the Lord’s Supper. It is the bread used during Passover celebrations today. Matzo is square when it is whole and white in color. The long rows baked into the Matzo represent the long stripes from the cat-of-nine-tails that scourged our Lord. The holes in the Matzo represent the piercing of our Lord’s hand, feet, and side. It is made without leaven (sin) and the brown spots from baking represent the bruises on the body of Christ.

As we partake of the Lord’s Supper or Communion, the bread represents the physical body of Christ. We need to well remember the wounds and agony of Jesus as He endured the torture of the cross: nails thrust piercing His hands and His feet; the brutal spear ripping His flesh as it impaled His side. The wicked cat-of-nine-tails had 9 long leather straps embedded with incredibly cruel balls of metal designed to brutally rip and tear the skin. It’s desired result was agonizing pain for the recipient receiving the lash of the beast. At 40 stripes, death would come. They stopped short to prolong His agony. Yet every stripe our Lord endured, every drop of blood He shed, every bruise upon His body had plan and purpose from the very beginning of time.

Most Protestant (Protestant meaning those churches that protested and moved away from the Mother or Catholic Church) and Spirit Filled denominations like the Assemblies, Holiness, and Pentecostal churches today recognize two basic Sacraments in the Church: Baptism and Communion. Catholic and Orthodox churches have additional Sacraments. Webster defines the word sacrament as: Etymology: Middle English sacrement, sacrament, from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French, from Late Latin sacramentum, from Latin, oath of allegiance, obligation, from sacrare to consecrate 1 a : a Christian rite (as baptism or the Eucharist) that is believed to have been ordained by Christ and that is held to be a means of divine grace or to be a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality b : a religious rite or observance comparable to a Christian sacrament 2 capitalized a : COMMUNION 2a b : BLESSED SACRAMENT

As our Catholic brothers and sisters partake of Communion or the Lord’s Supper, they believe in a doctrine called Transubstantiation, which is to say that they believe that as the bread and wine are consecrated (prayed over/dedicated to the Lord), the cup and the bread become the actual, real and substantial presence of Christ.

Lutherans and some other mainline denominations believe in a doctrine called Consubstantiation, which means that they believe that the wine and the bread coexist or are in union with each other: that the substance of the body and the blood of Christ are present (along side) as believers partake of the bread and the cup.

Most evangelical or full gospel churches believe the bread and wine are “representative” of the body and blood of our Lord. We partake in “remembrance” with faith, and in doing so we have communion with the real physical body and blood of Christ Jesus.

The Greek root of the word communion is “koinonia”, which means intimate partnership or intercourse. Yet, the Bible clearly teaches of the power and provision and healing that comes through receiving the Lord’s Supper. I am reminded of what Paul says in 1 Cor. 13:12, For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. There is a mystery in Communion that is activated through our faith.

Matthew tells us, 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. Matthew 26:26-28 Luke says, And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19

The prophet Isaiah through the word of our God: 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. 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 53:3-6

While we may not understand it entirely, we are assured that the presence of the Lord is indeed with us as we partake in this holy sacrament. We receive and celebrate our “sozo” (salvation) through Jesus . . . who saves, delivers, protects and heals in a complete work of making us whole in spirit, soul and body.

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