Taking Jesus at His Word
Of all the things our Lord Jesus attended to on the eve of His crucifixion, instituting, or establishing, a new meal was an important part of that night. This meal He enjoined upon his disciples for generations to come. And of this meal, Jesus connects and identifies the New Covenant of His blood with it. Now that is saying something! We rightly conclude that participation in this meal is something most special.
Interestingly, the Old covenant was likewise ratified by blood. And gruesomely the sacrificial blood of animals was thrown upon the altar, and then flung at the people so that they might be covered under the covenant God made with His people Israel. But with the new covenant a more efficacious blood confirms the agreement God makes with man. It is the blood of the perfect sacrifice, that to which all animal sacrifices previously pointed. It is nothing less than the blood of the Incarnate Son of God. And this blood is not flung at us, but rather, it is offered to us in a meal.
And Jesus says of the bread He blessed and broke, “take and eat, this is My body, given for you.” And of the cup that He blessed and shared with His disciples, “take and drink, this cup is the new covenant in My blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin.”
It is best to take Jesus at His word. “This is My body. This is My blood.” We get in trouble when we try to understand or explain it. It is obviously in the category of a miracle, and one of the mysteries of the Faith. And yet it is a tenet of the faith that God’s Word is able to accomplish what it purposes. After all, God spoke things into existence out of nothing. We just accept that we need His supernatural, sacramental body and blood to be nourished and sustained in the forgiveness of sins. What a meal!
Skipping such a meal is not conducive to good health...
Since You Asked…
Does the receiving of money offerings play a significant role in the worship service?
Yes, more than you might think! Cash is one of the strongest symbols in modern culture. When we offer our money on the altar it should represent our time and effort – our very selves. In early Christian worship gifts-in-kind were handled during the weekly assemblage. In our post-industrial societies, we now exchange in paper or metal symbols. The offering of our selves upon the altar is in response to God’s love proclaimed in the Good News and in anticipation of how God offers back that which is entrusted to him. During the moment of offering we also offer bread and wine upon the altar, and in return these gifts are offered back to us as the very body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.