Jesus' Resurrection Body and Blood-By Our Table Blessing- Becomes Our Spiritual Sustenance
Preamble: The Two Traditional Paths of The Lord's Supper
I've been wrestling with this table of the Lord Meditation for months.
Before we get to the meat of it, and demonstrating scripturally that Jesus feeds us his risen body and Spiritual blood (not symbols or just memories, and not his pre death body and blood which is not kosher) I'd like to just briefly sketch the two traditional paths of the Lord's Supper to distinquish our meditations to date.
Traditionally, the Lord's Supper either heads down the symbolic path with the claim that the bread and wine are just physical symbols of Christ's body and blood.
As symbols they help us remember Calvary, but there's nothing Spiritual, let alone sacrificial, going on. There are no offerings of the bread or wine, or any blessings (but 1Cor.10,16), and it's all sort of limited to a static memory of Calvary.
Why would we regularly go to the table to just remember Calvary?
We can remember Calvary without going to the table.
But then why did Jesus command it?
And how can the bread and wine be mere symbols when Paul clearly parallels the "supernatural food" and "supernatural drink" that supernaturally united the saved them in the desert "for they all drank from the supernatural rock that accompanied their travels and that rock was Christ." 1Corinthians 10,3-4 (NEB)
To accept Paul's unmistakably supernatural, realer than ordinary real, focus in 1Corinthians 10-11, but now to speak of the supper as just about symbols or a memory doesn't do justice to scripture. Has God changed?
If it's only about symbols and memories, no wonder so few Christians follow this ordinance of Jesus!
Or, it runs down the ritualistic path whereby so long as the person leading at the table is part of a specially ordained priestly class of folks (but neither Jesus or anybody in the NT ordained anyone a priest) and repeats certain of the last supper words of Christ, it's a valid sacrifice, and ipso facto the bread and wine represent both Jesus God's actual physical pre-Calvary blood and body, and his risen body as well.
No, the only humanity Jesus has now is a risen and ascended humanity, and the agent of his presence here on the table is his Spirit subsequent to our blessing according to the norm of 1Corinthians10,16.
The New And Living Path of Faith Sacrifices Unto Actual Spiritual Communion
At this ministry, we believe the Lord's Supper is a Spiritual sacrifice according to 1Peter 2,5. (For a full treatment of what is meant by "spiritual sacrifice" see Table of the Lord Meditation 14)
This sacrifice comes from setting apart and offering bread and wine in rightfully disposed and obedient faith, and in God actually blessing them and making us per 1Corinthians 10,18, "partners in the altar" as he did for folks around the altar in Corinth, providing us supernatural food and drink (faith and life sustenance) as Christ gave his first people Israel in the desert.
God Accepts This Spiritual-Faith Sacrifice of Lord's Supper or Nothing Happens
Of course, sacrifices by God's people for God's people had ritualistic aspects, but it wasn't the ritual that God rejected, it was that any type of sacrifice (Cain perhaps being the first rejected sacrifice- Genesis 4,5) could be done without actual faith.
Thus, as to any sacrifice, it was and is always God's perogative to be a part of it, and accept it, or not.
Examples of God rejecting physical sacrifice include:
His desertion of the temple per Ezekiel 9-11;
Jesus overturns the Temple tables per Mark 11,15;
Allowing the Temple to be overun and destroyed in 586 BC and 70AD;
Setting the prophets loose such as Hosea 6,6: "I desire mercy not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offering" (see also 1Samuel 15,22);
Offerings made with wrong motivations per Proverbs 21,27: "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination: how much more, when he brings it with a wicked mind."
Psalm 20,3 ("May he remember all your offerings and look with favor on your sacrifices.");
1Kings 18,38,39 (until the fire came down on the sacrifice of the prophets of Baal or Elijah's sacrifice);
1Chronicles 21,26 (until the fire came down on David's thanksgiving sacrifice);
Leviticus 9,24 (until the fire of God leapt from the altar out the temple door in the full sight of the people they didn't know that God had accepted it);
Exodus 24,10, (not until they saw God, did they eat and drink the new covenant meal).
cf judev3.co.uk "Who has to accept Christ's sacrifice- God or us?" Answer: God!
In other words, bible based sacrifices are not a substitute for the actual faith of the offeror or offerors, and the fact is the Spirit of God shows up where He blesses and accepts sacrifices made in his honor and in faith obedience to his word, but only when they are done with a right and humble, responsive human faith.
Back To 1Corinthians10-11 For The Norms of Lord's Supper spiritual Sacrifice
Likewise 1Corinthians 10-11 establishes the requirements of an acceptable spiritual sacrifice.
Paul is challenging the Corinthian church to a proper faith before they participate in a Spiritually sacrificial meal that now represents and re-enacts the good news of their new covenant with God.
Perhaps he is recalling that Moses and the seventy celebrated their new covenant-sacrificial meal, only after the people by faith agreed to obey all the Lord said (v.7), and only after Moses had sprinkled the people with the blood (v.8). This sacrifice was accepted by God, and the seventy and chief priests knew this because they "saw" him standing on a sapphire foundation (v.9-10).
Only then did they eat (Exodus 24,11).
For Corinth, the first challenge to ensure Spiritual God showing up and communion is to put aside their sexual temptations (1Corinthians 10,8,13).
The second is to literally reject once and for all their communion with demons at sacrificial meals offered to idols.
These two things involved a type of "communion" but not a holy fellowship with the living God of Israel (through his risen body and blood) and the body of faithers:
"You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the Lord's table and the table of demons. Are we to provoke the Lord? Are we stronger than he is?" (1Corinthians10,21)
One or the other actual communion is possible but not both.
Paul has assessed that rightful communion with God is not happening for these reasons:
"When we bless the cup of blessing, is it not a means of sharing [Gr. koinonia, communion, partnership] in the blood of Christ? When we break the bread, is it not a means of sharing the body of Christ." (1Corinthians10,16)
This NEB translation rightly suggests that the partaking is a means to communion, not necessarily a done deal without the proper faith on our side of the table.
To make it plain, communion according to 1Corinthians 10,16 happens when God, in some way, Spiritually shows up at the supper and table named after him, at this spiritually sacrificial meal, and this requires a repentant faith focused toward pleasing him, not just eating symbols and referencing memories, or repeating Jesus' words before he died.
Communion is an actual Spiritual reality (God is Spirit, John 4,24), an interaction given us by God, that we also seek by acting on the promises of faith, that is above the common physical plane. It primarily and amazingly calls to mind that we human beings are made in God's Spiritual image and likeness (Genesis 1,27), and thereby share a spiritual nature with God, a nature that can recognize him, and to an extent understand Him, especially if we are born again by the water of and Spirit (cf John 3,5).
God showing up and putting more grace in motion (accepting the Spiritual sacrifice in some way) upon our faithful offering is the pattern not just at the table, but in every type of Spiritual sacrifice.
Cornelius' Spiritual Sacrifice Teaches About the Spiritual Sacrifice of the Supper
As another example, the angel of the Lord spoke for God in recognizing the Spiritual sacrifices of the Roman centurion Cornelius: "your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God [NASB]. Now send to Joppa for a man named Simon, also called Peter... " Acts 10,4-5.
Cornelius' prayers and alms, his lifestyle of faith, added up to a spiritual memorial, his remembrance of the things of God (prayers and almsgiving- more than a static memory of things about God) became a spiritual sacrifice, living service offered to a living God.
The spiritual sacrifice of this unbaptized and uncircumcized gentile, from the Roman provincial seat of Caesarea, moved God's Spirit, and so set in motion a breakthrough- that gentiles would receive the Holy Ghost and fully become part of God's new gospel people (Acts10,4).
We read the bible with the bible and note that both Acts 10,4 and the Lord's supper per Luke 22,19-20 and 1Corinthians11,24 speak of a Spiritual memorial, a rememberance, that comes with an active offering, speaks to God in prayer, and calls for his response.
The point always remains the same.
Our faithful and active sacrifices, now only Spiritual not physical, after the resurrection, offered to God move him to aid us with grace and favor.
For sveral instances of other Spiritual sacrifices seek Table of the Lord. N. 14.
Focus Scriptures Demonstrating That Christ's Risen Body is The Source Of Our Communion with Him
Hebrews 10,5-7: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but you have prepared a body for me. Whole offerings, and sin-offerings you did not delight in. Then I said, 'Here I am: as it is written of me in the scroll, I have come, O God, to do your will.' "
Hebrews 10,19-20: "So now my friends, the blood of Jesus makes us free to enter the sanctuary with confidence, 20 by the new and living way which he has opened for us through the curtain, the way of the flesh."
Luke 23,45: "the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two."
Hebrews 10,22; "so let us make our approach in sincerity of heart and the full assurance of faith, inwardly cleansed [kj,"with hearts sprinkled clean, a gracious Spiritual act by God much like him blessing the "body" and "blood" on the table] from a guilty conscience, and outwardly washed with pure water [baptism]."
Isaiah 52,15: "So shall he sprinkle many nations, kings will shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider."
Hebrews 10,5 has this interesting idea that God took on a body for some reason, that is, to show us something by it.
He didn't just show us an obedient faith unto a sacrificial and bloody and profane death (which opened the door to a New Testament), that ended all physical sacrifices.
No, His risen body showed us that an obedient faith leads to bodily resurrection.
His body was primarily and ultimately prepared for his resurrection.
In fact, He died showing us that there was something more important than our physical body or it's death our new and living resurrectional faith, that eternally provides, on earth or in heaven, a Spiritual communion with him as our risen Lord.
A British Commentator takes Hebrews 10,5 and ably notes that this verse, and the whole passage itself, is primarily about his resurrection body: "What was unique about Jesus was his resurrection from the dead- not just a renewed physical life- but as 'the firstborn of many brethren.' "
(Romans 8,9, Noel Rude: godward.org "But a Body Hast Thou Prepared Me").
In other words, whereas his physical body died, is so over, his resurrected body still speaks eloquently.
His resurrection gave us more than the brutal memory of Calvary, but a new and confident faith, that takes us beyond the physical veil of the Jerusalem temple, and into the actual fellowship, the communion presence of God, who is Spirit.
We bring this resurrectional faith to Hebrews and particularly to the celebration of the Lord's Supper.
We know from 1Corinthians 15,50 that flesh and blood cannot enter heaven.
We also know Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God in resurrectional power (cf Colossians 1-2, Revelation 1,5).
It is precisely this resurrectional and Spiritually triumphant faith that we are challenged to bring to the table of the Lord, and to all our Spiritual sacrifices.
The Spirit Sprinkled Down Blesses What's On Table
Isaiah 52,13 prophesies about the resurrected Jesus: "behold my servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted."
This is a prophecy of his resurrection.
But wait, there's way more- v. 15 stirs us to even greater heights: "Thus, [lifted up!] he will sprinkle many nations."
But now Jesus has no more physical blood in that the sacrifice of the cross was once and for all accepted. Moses sprinkled all the people with physical blood before the Sinai covenant sacrifice was accepted, Exodus 24,8, so now we look to the Sprinkling of what his physical blood purchased, and what his "sprinkled" blood represents, his "Sprinkled" Spirit, his consecrating Spirit.
His blood purchased the cleansing release of the Spirit according to John 19,34: "But one of the soldiers thrust a lance into his side [after he was dead] and at once there was a flow of blood and water.
So the sprinkled "blood" of Isaiah 52,15 and the visionary ever flowing Spiritual blood of John 19,34 corresponds with the flow of the baptismal water and the flow of the Spirit, which still is sprinkled in the form of the Holy Ghost:
"This is he whose coming was with water and the blood: Jesus Christ. He came not by water alone, but by both water and by the blood; and to this the Spirit bears witness." 1John5,6-7
So at the table our offering and blessing of the bread and wine, and the breaking of the bread, all call down the "sprinkled" blood, all fulfill Isaiah 52,15, all call down the Holy Ghost into the bread and wine, and they become the risen body and "blood" of Christ.
These are soul rending, spirit lifting, profound post holes of faith, praise Jesus.
And so we bring all this faith and understanding to our pre-kingdom Spiritual feast at the table of the Lord.
It was in this risen Spiritual communion sense that Paul taught 1Corinthians 10-11.
It was in this same post resurrectional sense that Jesus prophesied "This is my body" Luke 22,19 and "This is my Blood." Matthew 26,28.
In this same prophetic way too, with Jesus knowing by faith that his body and blood would resurrect, that he stated John 6,56: "Unless you eat the flesh of the on of man and drink his blood you have no life in you."
(we have dealt with the spiritual nature of the word "flesh" in these meditations- see especially Table Meditations N. 10 and N. 12, the latter expanding on 1Corinthians15,44 which states we all have a fleshly-spiritual body, that will rise. Note also Jesus refers to himself risen at Luke 24,39 as having "flesh", the Son of Man's "flesh."
His flesh and blood could only be "real food" and "real drink" (John 6,55), that is Spiritual realities at the table, after his resurrection, or we would drinking physical blood and eating human flesh with physical blood still in it (Deuteronomy 12,6).
Likewise, only after his resurrection came the fruitful and challenging table of the Lord teaching of 1Corinthians 10. Prior to that it was the "last supper." Now it's the Table of the (resurrected) Lord. Now it's the Lord's Supper with different and better post resurrectional sustenance.
Real Food and Drink, Real Communion Because Sprinkled From Heaven
So we too now come to the table of the Lord, after his physical body has been laid down and resurrected, having let go of our unfaithful fleshiness.
Then, by our faithful and obedient offering (like Cornelius offering alms, like paul offering the gospel to the gentiles) and the scriptural blesssing of the bread and cup, we can expect his risen presence at, his acceptance of, our supper, by our adherence to the new and living and Spiritually sacrificial way of faith.
And if we come with keen eyes of faith, like Paul, heeding Jesus' prophetic command to do this supper in his living memory, as a memorial, then by faith we can experience the Spiritual realities of his risen body and Spiritual blood, supernatural food and drink, real food and drink, sprinkled from heaven (Isaiah 52,15).
for video of supper: http://vimeo.com/63572579
PREACHING HOUR TV
TUESDAY EVENINGS - 8:30PM EST
Preaching Hour TV weekly on Cox PATV Channel 15 in Cheshire, Southington and Meriden CT and on VCAM Channel 15 10pm Fridays in Burlington VT.read more...
Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...