Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings:
Deuteronomy 22-24; Mark 14:1-26
22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.25 I assure you that I won’t drink wine again until that day when I drink it in a new way in God’s kingdom.” 26 After singing songs of praise, they went out to the Mount of Olives (Mark 14:1-26, Common English Bible).
All too often, we have become so accustomed to eating the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion, we don’t give much thought to where it came from or why. Sure, we who worship in more liturgical settings tend to go through the words on a fairly regular basis, but we have heard it so many times, many of us just don’t pay much attention anymore.
When Jesus sat down with the disciples for what would be the first Holy Communion, it was already a special time. It was the Passover. This day was the highest of Holy days for the Jews. It still is. As a part of the Passover celebration Jesus and the disciples at the traditional Passover or Seder meal. God gave specific instructions for the preparation of this meal and the meanings for the various elements.
For our purposes today, these various parts of the meal, while important, are not part of our focus. We are looking at two parts of the meal that even as part of the Seder meal, participants might well have looked past them to the more important elements.
Bread and wine were common components of most any meal in the Biblical era. For many people, still today, they are common meal elements. They are plain. They are ordinary.
Many people today still enjoy some kind of bread with their meal. For people of Jesus’ day bread was more than a side dish to the meal. Bread was an edible utensil. Without it, the meal might not have been possible.
As the supper progressed, Jesus took this common, ordinary part of the meal and he did something extraordinary with it. He held up the bread, broke it and gave it to his disciples. So far, there is nothing unexpected there. As practicing Jews, the disciples would have known the appropriate words to go with each part of the Seder. But Jesus didn’t say those words. He blessed the bread and said something extraordinary. He said, “This is my body, broken for you.”
In the traditional Seder, there are four cups of wine. The third cup is called “The Cup of Blessing.” According to tradition, with this cup, Jesus took the ordinary, wine, was also an ordinary part of a meal in Biblical times. Even today we generally want something to drink with our meal. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10:16 says, “16 Isn’t the cup of blessing that we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Isn’t the loaf of bread that we break a sharing in the body of Christ” (CEB)? Many scholars lift this verse up as evidence that Jesus used the third cup of the Seder, the Cup of Blessing” to do the extraordinary saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, poured out for many.”
Placed in the hands of God, even the most ordinary can become something extraordinary. They become something so extraordinary that 2000 years later, they are still remembered and celebrated today.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
With Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved