At the Lord's Supper A Blessing Is A Blessing Is A...
As I went on for awhile about these Table of the Lord Meditations, my Baptist friend was patient but also ready to pounce on any whiff of non-biblical dogma or philosophy.
I told him that the Lord's Supper, according to the word of God, is a spiritual sacrifice (1Peter2,5), not a physical sacrifice by any ordained priesthood.
I readily conceded that there are no more physical sacrifices (Hebrews9,27), or any New Testament ordained priesthood, and that Jesus didn't ordain anybody a priest, let alone make a Galilean fisherman Pontiff between God and us.
So I kept going and said that the only biblical priesthood that now exists is the universal holiness priesthood that comes with baptism in the Spirit (1Peter2,5 and 9; Acts 2,39).
This allows us all to approach God with Spiritual, or faith sacrifices, like the Apostle and Prophet Paul did in spreading the gospel to the gentiles (Romans15,15-16). This ministry to them, the bible says, was a spiritual sacrifice, his "priestly service of the gospel of God."
Praise Jesus this sacrifice by Paul was highly acceptable.
The Roman Centurion Cornelius' almsgiving to the Jews was likewise an acceptable faith sacrifice, as evidenced by the angel from heaven telling him so, and his baptism in the Spirit (Acts10,4ff).
God answers in some real way all our faith sacrifices- even the offering of our bodies as a living sacrifice.
I then told my Baptist brother that I celebrate the Lord's Supper according to the command of Jesus, King of the Jews. I agreed that we don't eat his Pre-Calvary body and blood because Genesis 9,2-4 and Leviticus 17,10 say the faithful can't eat-drink the blood of any physical sacrifice, which this supper isn't.
But we do eat his risen "flesh", "bread from heaven" (John 6,50 and 6,53). We do eat his Spiritual "flesh", his spiritual body. We all have a spiritual body says 1Corinthians 15,44, and it will rise to eternal life or condemnation. We do drink his everflowing, resurrected "blood" in that John 19,34 is a vision of Jesus' ever flowing "blood", not solely a final spurt of his physical blood.
God is Spirit (John 4,24). Jesus is God. His risen body is a spiritual body. So it's not to hard to understand in John's Lord's Supper context of chapter 6 that Jesus provides us Spiritual bread from heaven at his supper, at his table.
The risen God, we know, also has risen flesh that changed in appearance, Mark 16,12. This flesh could change from the more physical flesh (as when Thomas said my Lord and God) in the early days of his resurrection to less physical flesh, in keeping with his ascension Mark 16,19.
Before I could go any further and tell him that Jesus prophesied "this is my body" and "this is my blood", according to his faith in his soon-to-rise again body and "blood."
Before I could get to the Israelites ate "real" spiritual food and drink (which kept them alive, ie there's "unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood....") on the way to the promised land for forty years, no less (1Corinthians 10,3-4), he finally looked at his watch, and slightly at me, and protested "Transubstantiation."
Oh my- old "fighting words."
Since I'm not a denominationalist, or a creed maker, or a new constitution diviner (Peter did fine at 1Peter2), I don't have to defend any fancy word, or novel doctrine.
I don't have to get offended even if my friend's NIV bible curiously takes out the word "bless" at Mark 14,22, when Jesus institutes His supper. For all you NIV readers, "bless" is definitely included in the concept of "gave thanks."
Is this why so many Protestants don't "bless" the bread and wine, or juice?
Anyway, I just preach and teach the word today, as received by the Spirit today (John 8,31) and revealed by the Spirit.
When God's word says "bless", I bless. It still says "bless" today.
"Transubstantiation" is the Vatican word and dogma (partially stated in 1215 AD at the IV Lateran Council and later at the Council of Trent, 1560, in the face of exiting Protestant Reformers) that says the clerical repetition of Jesus' words ('this is my body', 'this is my blood') ipso facto, 'ex opere operato', changes the bread and wine into his body, blood, soul and divinity, both his Pre-Calvary and post Calvary body.
Denominations are welcome to teach whatever they want, but it's fair to say that after 454 years 'transubstantiation" is not working for a large percentage of the faithful. This non biblical doctrine may explain why so few Protestants still meaningfully celebrate the supper, if at all.
Praise God we now can rejoice in our God given religious freedom.
But such churchy language as "transubstatiation" fails when we are left with the claim that both Jesus' physical human pre death body and His risen body come back into existance in the bread and wine, which by the way, no longer exist.
"Transubstantiation" is a fancy and philosophical word.
Jesus didn't ever say it. Nor did he transubstantiate anything.
He said "Do this" [spiritual sacrifice, this blessing, consecration] in memory of me."
This was a command to bless the bread and the wine ("And he blessed and he broke it and said..." 1Corinthians11,24a, Aramaic Bible In Plain English) which is what the church obediently did at Corinth (1Corinthians10,16).
We All Understand Blessing And If God Says "Bless" We Bless
Issac blessed his son Jacob and it worked and so Jacob surpassed his brother, became the namesake of Israel, and gained the right of the firstborn (Genesis 27).
Jacob blessed his twelve sons, and they were all duly and particuarly blessed (Genesis 49).
At Numbers 6,22-27 the Lord commanded a blessing prayer for the Israelites that has proven effective up to this day.
The elders of Bethlehem, as witnesses to the beautiful story and humility of Ruth, and the excitement of someone joining their people, were compelled by the Holy Ghost to bless this Moabitess as she joined God's people (Ruth 4,11).
Jesus commanded us to bless those who curse us (Lk 6,28).
All this blessing- all commanded by God.
So too the bread and wine.
We get blessing. It's very important. Blessings change things.
What parent doesn't bless his or her child?
So we say "thanks" to Jesus for his saving blood, and bless the cup, and we get the blessing of renewing our faith covenant with him. We get fed real food and drink for our very real soul. We get strength for our weariness. We receive discernment of the needs of the body. We might even get a healing.
If "bless" is good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for us.
Exodus 23,25: "I will bless your bread and your water; and I will take sickness away from you." If we ask in faith, and we set it apart in honor of him, he will bless our bread and water.
How much more the bread and the wine per his command.
"Bless" is just a really simple way to say consecrate, to set something apart for God's use, for his blessing, to make it holy. We bless, we set something apart, we ask for his blessing on it. And He has to the choice to accept our faith or not, and answer it by actually blessing the bread and wine, or whatever we offer him in spiritual sacrifice.
What we offer, and how we offer it, has to be acceptable to him.
No one can force the hand of God (Exodus 24,10, Meditation N. 13). No one can force him to bless what we bless. That was the lesson of the prophetic contest between the prophets of Baal and Elijah (1Kings18,25). Both the Baalists and Elijah knew the basic techniques of sacrifice, but only Elijah's hewed to the Lord's word and had the faith and obedience that made his sacrifice acceptable).
Nothing good happens with just our blessing, until God blesses what we have offerred.
Jesus is ultimately the one who blesses.
Neither he or any human flesh transubstantiates anything. He just blesses it, puts His Spirit in it, consecrates it. God is Spirit, He either voluntarily enters, by his risen presence in the bread and wine, by his blessing or he doesn't. He either blesses our spiritual sacrifice, or not.
It's not the formula of man's words, or repeating what Jesus Himself said. It's our faith meeeting his choice to bless or not.
Korah Was Not Commanded To Bless- We Are
The story of the sons of Korah, a second priestly class, the Levites, and their "Korah rebellion" is instructive (Numbers 16). Korah was a Levite, but not in the High Priesthood order of Levi like Aaron, and later Zadok. He was a gatekeeper of the moveable Temple or "Tent" (1Chronicles9,19), a temple singer (2Chronciles 10,19, and see also Psalms 42,44-49 etc psalms "of the Korahites").
Korah got it in his head, and convinced 250 other Levites, that Moses and Aaron were hogging all the work, enjoyed a higher standard of living, and were lording it over them, even though they had a nice enough life, close to God already. (Numbers 16,8-11)
So they rebelled- insisiting that they could also offer the sacrifice of incense which was reserved only for the high priesthood. This was their way of getting their camel's nose under the priestly tent, a first step toward satisfying their ambitions.
Moses prays and then gets the word from the Lord to 'call their bluff.' So he tells them (I'm paraphrasing) "tommorrow come with your bronze censers, your 'fire pans' for incense. Then light them up you lighweight Levites! (cf v. 17) And then we'll see who is holy and who may bring the sacrifices." (v.5)
All the Temple utensils had to be duly blessed according to God's command, Numbers 7. The Jewish Publication Society Translation of Numbers 16, 17 suggests that each of them brought "his" own fire pan. They likely fashioned them themselves and blessed them themselves, and stationed themselves at the entrance of the tent.
Headstrong, blessing stuff and offering incense before the Lord said so.
O My. Watch Out!
The Lord (Verse 19) swoops down, shows his fire to the whole community, then consumes the 250 men offering incense! (verse 35)
And then the Lord does something that seems curious. He tells Eleazar, son of Aaron, a valid high priest, to gather up the fire pans from the rubble, because they had become sacred, by the Lord's destructive and cleansing fire (Numbers16,38).
"Become sacred"- they had become properly blessed!
By God alone!
Instead of using the fire pans, as fire pans, that wasn't enough teaching that day for our gracious God. No, they were no good for that anymore, having been disobediently self-styled by the ambitious sons of Korah. So, the Lord told the priests to hammer them out, smash and flatten them idols- disobedience is as witchcraft says the Lord- and used the now properly blessed metal on the altar (which one?).
Blessing stuff is no joke! Important enough already is the lesson from the sons Korah rebellion. Likewise, at the table, there is no need for a novel blessing or priesthood for what goes on at the Lord's Supper.
So blessing, and who rightfully blesses something, and how and when and why, is important.
It's a weighty endeavor for us Christians. We don't need to start up with our own words and doctrines when the Lord's written doctrines will do.
All Baptized In Spirit, All Priests, All Can Bless
We Christians, anointed ones, are all priests by our holy Ghost baptism, by the fire of the Holy Ghost, or not. If we are so baptized, if Christ actually lives in us, the hope of glory, if we are temples of his Spirit, we can bless the bread and wine.
This is a command of the Lord. (Then it's up to God to do the rest.)
This is how Paul exhorts, and calls for unity in Corinth, a factionalized and immature church, by remembering that Christ lives in us as individuals, who make up His risen church body.
And so he says, for our example today- "the cup we bless", "the bread we break" (1Corinthians 10,16-17)
Conclusion: "Bless" Suits Our Biblical Lord's Supper Just Fine
Who needs the church word "transubstantiation" when the bible says "bless."
The blessing of the bread doesn't bring the human Jesus back to his pre death physical body.
That body doesn't exist anymore.
His dead body changed in an instant (cf 1Corinthians 15,52) to his risen Spiritual body, which gets in the bread, if our faith is acceptable to God.
So who needs man's word "transubstantiation" when our acceptable blessing brings us bread from heaven, real food, and his everflowing Spiritual "blood", real drink (cf1Corinthians10,3-4).
For a short video synopsis of the supper: http://vimeo.com/63572579
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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...