Are We Pepared For the Table? (Part 2)
In our last Table of the Lord Meditation (n. 9, 9.15.12) we noted that the modern church is presented with challenges of rightly dividing the riches of the Lord's Supper, a supper that we are all commanded to celebrate.
The primary challenge, as we mentioned, is that we live in a time when Baptism in the Spirit (the chief sign of the covenant, see definition n. 4 of "Baptism in the Spirit" to the left), is not often taught or defended as the key means of understanding and abiding in the word (John 8,31), of which the Lord's Supper is a vital part.
So today we'll continue with the theme of being better prepared for the Lord's Supper by delving into some of the richest scriptures about both the Holy Ghost and the Supper, in hopes of being better prepared for the table.
Focus Scriptures and Commentary Relevant To the Lord's Supper
John 6,51: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.
John 6,54-55: "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. v 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed."
This use of "flesh" likely amplifies John 1,14 which tells us that Christ (God is Spirit, John 4,24) became flesh and dwelt among us, and allowed us to behold his glory. But after his death-resurrection, the word made flesh goes back to a risen Spirit-flesh, in that this is the way Jesus sometimes appeared to his disciples, in risen Spiritual flesh (Mark 16,12, his spiritual body per 1Corinthians15,44).
So likewise, if the Spirit became flesh in the incarnation, and risen spiritual flesh in the resurrection-ascension, so Spiritual flesh can come down upon the table again (John 6,51, also 1Corinthians15,44), for the life of the world, if we have the faith (and the Spirit it brings) to recognize Him.
John 19,34 (after His death): "But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out."
After The Fullness of our One Baptism, We're Prepared For The Lord's Supper
We're baptized into his bloody death (Romans 6,3), so we can understand the baptismal blood flowing out after his death, John 19,34.
But, we are also baptized into the newness of His resurrectional life (Romans 6,4), so the water of John 19,34.
Christ's offer of new relationship with humanity always follows this same baptismal pattern: His shed blood fully purchases the eternal flow of His washing blood-Spirit for us, His new life for us, and in us.
Why waste the power of the blood by not receiving all the new life opportunities of it, particularly being fed on his body and blood, his risen food and drink, real spiritual food and real spiritual drink (1Corinthians10,3), after we bless them (1Corinthians10,16)?
This new life is also represented by our One Baptism in His One Spirit (Ephesians 4,4-6), and this one baptism includes both water baptism and the inner cleansing and filling and living waters of Holy Ghost Baptism, a promise for all people for all time, Acts 2,39.
As fleshy-physical humanity, we often stop at an external "water" faith of physical water baptism. We also often stop at eating and drinking something physical or merely symbolic at the table of the Lord rather than getting prepared in biblical faith to eat his [Spiritual] "flesh" and "Blood"?
Of course we'll be tempted to believe it's physical flesh and blood, and be grossed out, as were folks who turned away from Jesus and His teaching about it, John 6,66. (This is fully covered in the "Reviving the Lord's Supper" under the "Home" tab to the left)
Or, think them as just symbolic things represented by a little physical bread and wine, but the bible never says his body and blood are symbols, or physical beyond the obvious fact that, in one sense, it's just bread and wine.
A symbol didn't die on the cross. Jesus, in physical flesh, did. And He said the supper was about His Body and Blood, but that physical body and blood doesn't physically exist anymore: "[physical] flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God, neither the perishable inherit the imperishable." (1Corinthians15,50).
So how could we eat Jesus' physical body that no longer exists?
And besides, to a person of faith, Spiritual realities are not less real because they are primarily Spiritual rather than primarily about physically fleshly things (John 6,63:"The Spirit is the life-giver; the [physical] flesh does not benefit at all.")
Consider 1Peter 2,5 which commends us all, as priests, to offer "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." This word doesn't say "offer symbolic sacrifices" or "offer memories." It says "offer spiritual sacrifices" and the new Passover ritual of the risen Jesus fits this description of "spiritual sacrifice" perfectly.
A living or spiritual sacrifice consists of more than physical symbols, and is no less real because it's "spiritual," (John6,63) as the New Testament biblical priesthood is no less "sacrificial" because it doesn't offer physical blood sacrifices.
Certainly, Revelation 6,9-10 (martyrs under a heavenly altar) contemplates the Spiritual sacrifices of faith testimony, and faith holiness, and even faith martyrdom, all of which are eminently spiritually sacrificial, and are being offerred until Jesus comes in judgment.
Speaking of judgment, would or could people actually call down judgment on themselves, and even die, because they are participating in a symbolic memorial without repentant faith (still practicing immorality and idolatry)? It's possible God would be offended at the misuse of symbols, but much more likely because we are partcipating in a living sacrifice- that calls down the very real presence of God, and claims actual communion with an actual God- without faith? (see 1Corinthians 11,29-30).
More Scriptures Reveal Primacy of Spirit In Our New Covenant
1Corinthians 11,25: "This cup is the new covenant in my blood."
Hebrews 9,14-15: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offerred Himself without spot to God, cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God? v 15 And for this reason He is Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inhertance."
Hebrews 8,6: But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises."
Hebrews 8,10: "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."
These scriptures, from Hebrews particlarly, fulfill the promise of Jeremiah 31,31-34, with Jesus as Mediator of the Holy Spirit, of God Himself Who Is Spirit and also describe our baptism in the Spirit as a seamless, yet gigantic, covenantal leap forward. And we duly note that it is always God writing the terms of the covenant with His Spirit but this time on our faithful hearts not on stone.
Again the pattern in Hebrews is the same as John 19,24 and elsewhere. The blood purchases (or unleashes if you will) the promise of the Spirit, a new Spiritual connection to God by our baptism in the Spirit.
This salvation purchased by His blood and put in motion by His Spirit living in us leaves us more than momentarily free from sin, or momentarily disposed to religious duty, but also more prepared and hungry to meet the risen Jesus at the Table.
We meet him here in faith, on his own written, spoken, and Spiritual terms, at his resurrection level of holiness, humbled and rendered to live the servant lifestyle that the supper demonstrates, because we are fed with mighty food (Psalm 78,25) for our faith witness and journey.
John 6,58: 'This is the bread which came down from heaven- not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever."
In the first covenant the way into the Holiest of Holies in the temple, that is fully into the presence of God, was not yet allowed or shown to God's people (Hebrews 9,8). But the blood of Christ cleansed our conscience and gave us not only the confidence but also the Spiritual means to draw as close as humanly possible (9,14).
Now we approach him boldly and by way of an ardent faith that brings us the means of the Spirit to come into his full presence anywhere, even into the inner Holy of Holies room of the temple, where the Ark of the Covenant chest, and its contents, were kept.
The ark contained the holiest and most important representations of the Hebrew faith (Hebrews 9,4): Aaron's rod that budded; the tablets upon which God wrote the commandments, the mercy seat, and a golden pot of manna.
Jesus' fellow Jews had no access to this manna, let alone the right and to eat it on demmand.
And yet after Jesus shed his blood and gave us his Spirit, he expected that we would gladly bless unleavened bread and unmixed wine, and freely partake of a better eternal bread, better than any manna, and a better eternal cup, better than any cup of the world, and also know that these were better, and taste that they were better, and live on the level that his resurrection affords and our one baptism enables.
So the preparation for any good scout and anyone coming to the table is similar and includes having been washed in water baptism and Spirit Baptism (Luke 22,10), and a hunger for the full biblical promises of the table.
We approach the table with a sufficient faith to start a fire, to call down a Holy Ghost anointing on the bread and wine, knowing that things as well as people can be anointed per Exodus 40.8ff.
We come to the table with this ardent faith to offer all we have to the one who doesn't need anything, and yet He draws near to us, and comes down anyway, in Spirit and truth, lest we perhaps take for granted all that what he did for us on Calvary.
Lord Jesus, we pray for great faith, to sustain and strengthen our spirits, so that we would abide in and live according to your entire word. And Jesus we ask that you would put a hunger for all that your table offers in those who haven't perhaps been there yet, that your entire people would return to it, based on your word and your Spirit, in Jesus Name I pray.
for video re. 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...