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Faithlife

Given to Who

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The principle for removing all leaven from bread was similar to that underlying the draining of blood from animal flesh. Both leaven and blood had quickening power and were to be kept separate as an offering to God. The 1st and 7th days of this period were marked by a holy assembly, during which the only work permitted was the preparation of food (Ex 12:16). This period when unleavened bread was eaten was described as a feast because it opened the 7-day period of grain harvest (Dt 16:9). During this feast special burnt sacrifices were offered, along with a sheaf of newly harvested barley. (cf. 2 Kgs 23:21–23; 2 Chr 35:1–19).[1]

I was a Cadet and secretly proud of it.  In Jr. High School I used to watch the big boys, dressed in their uniforms.  Their shoes seemed to shine uncommonly.  Some even more above and beyond the others.  “Spit shine” was what they called it and I hear all kinds of recipes as to how to do it.  The bottom line is that serious soldiers and cadets were often measured by the shine of their boots.  Why?  It had to be important enough to the soldier to give it both time and patience.  It was a repeated process of applying and buffing wax in thin layers to create a totally smooth surface which ultimately would hold a high gloss.  Unless you were serious you’d never take the time.  Brass buttons were another benchmark, the brim of the hat . . . I wanted to be like the soldiers who were serious about it.  Some guys just couldn’t wear a uniform.  No matter what it was like, when they put it on, it looked like a sack.

The first couple years as a cadet was great.  Then I was conflicted.  Hair lengths began to get longer and the hippie culture grabbed my school throat.  The comfort of my faded, patched blue jeans was so much preferable to the rough woolen uniforms that we wore.  Eventually the hippies won and the Cadet Corps disappeared.  While I enjoyed my blue jeans, I secretly mourned the loss of the corps.

I have always appreciated people who took what they were doing with a degree of seriousness, as if it actually mattered.  Going through the motions can be a lousy way to navigate your way through life.

So today we come to worship.  Our focus is observance of the sacrament of Communion.  We’re trying to treat this with a degree of seriousness that is relevant to the living of our Christian experience.  It could be that in realizing the significance of some of these sorts of experiences there is a dimension of faith living that few people choose to enter.  You might say that it is the “spit-shining” thing.  It requires time and patience and a desire to become all that you can be in God’s army.

When we distribute the elements of Communion, we pass what properly should be unleavened bread and wine.  And they carry a symbolism relative to our spiritual deliverance that reaches way back to Exodus of the people of God from Egypt and we find in the book of Deuteronomy 16, direction for the commemoration of that event.  The observance of the Passover.

"Sacrifice as the Passover to the Lord your God an animal from your flock or herd at the place the Lord will choose as a dwelling for his Name. Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste—so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt. Let no yeast be found in your possession in all your land for seven days. Do not let any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain until morning." (Deuteronomy 16:2-4, NIV)

"For six days eat unleavened bread and on the seventh day hold an assembly to the Lord your God and do no work." (Deuteronomy 16:8, NIV) [2]

For your thought and consideration today I’d like to suggest that the elements that we partake of may not be given for you in the same way.  We participate in them together.  One is given for us and the other given on our behalf.

1.   The Body of Christ is God’s offering given to you.

"And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”" (Luke 22:19, NIV) [3]

" Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”" (Luke 22:7-8, NIV) [4]

 

"Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth." (1 Corinthians 5:7-8, NIV) [5]

Christ clearly identified himself with the past deliverance of the people of God and presents himself as their deliverer.

The Passover Lamb was to be consumed in the evening, the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  And for seven days they were to eat bread without yeast as a remembrance of their deliverance from Egypt, for us a reminder of our deliverance from sin.

As I read this I saw how closely the working of God was tied to the history of a people.  For the Hebrew people God was not separate from their nation.  He was involved in every aspect of national life.  This was one of the reasons perhaps that they missed the Messiah because they were looking for a national deliverance.  Often I hear of the American people as well blurring the lines of spirituality and nationalism.  We all know that Jesus came to advance the kingdom of God, in the human heart and this still is the case.

But when we compartmentalize our faith, I think that we miss something incredibly significant.  When we think about faith in terms of times and places or priorities, I think that we only hurt ourselves.

So many times I have been reminded that we have six days between Sundays and the living of our relationship in those six days is crucial.  If we don’t vitally live that out in those six days then we’ll find nothing more significant when we gather on the Lord’s Day.

Communion in it’s history is significant to the deliverance of a nation.  I believe that you and I need to carry some concerns for the deliverance of this nation.  I feel that  it ought to occupy some area of concern for us on a regular basis and it most likely should be something that we pray about with passion.

"if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV) [6]

I believe that the church is called to intercede for the nation.  It begins with the house of God and it doesn’t start with trying to reform our politics or our politicians.  It begins with the humility and the willingness to admit that we have failed in what we are called to be and to do.

"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (Deuteronomy 11:18-19, NIV) [7]

Or how about the tendency to rely on other people to disciple your children.  The scripture tells us that we need to learn to integrate, not compartmentalize our faith and it needs to be a regular, natural part of our interaction with our children.

I have some plans for a Sunday evening children’s program in the Fall that excite me.  It won’t be a drop-off program.  It will require the attendance of at least one parent with their children.  You’ll hear more in the days to come.

The Body of Christ is given for you. 

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter 2:24, NIV) [8]

The degree to which you are able to receive the deliverance that this sacrifice provides and implement His teachings in your daily life will determine the type of experience that you have when we come together as a body to worship, to listen to sermons, to observe Communion, to baptize new converts, . . . whatever.

Now the Blood.

2.   The Blood is Christ’s offering given to God for you.

"In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." (Luke 22:20, NIV) [9]

The blood was not given to you as was the body of Christ.  It was shed for you, spilled out.  It wasn’t mean to satisfy you.  It was meant to satisfy God.

"When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance." (Hebrews 9:6-7, NIV)

" When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." (Hebrews 9:11-22, NIV) [10]

You see the blood represents the satisfaction of the holiness of God, the justice of God.  His love is beyond all comprehension and yet His Love cannot overrule the notion that sin requires atonement.  Someone has to pay.  It cannot be ignored.

Whenever I ask for or give forgiveness I seem to get or give  the answer, “That’s okay.”  The truth is that the wrong we do is never okay, regardless of what we say.

It took the blood to forgive your sin, my sin and to usher in what  Jesus called a “new covenant” in His blood.  It required a sacrifice once for all, never to be repeated again.  It gives us access to God. 

" Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:19-23, NIV) [11]

Without the shed blood of Christ you’d never have a prayer, you’d be hopelessly lost.  By the blood you come near.

Too Much Blood?

By John Fischer

I just heard that a recut version of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” is being released in time for Easter. This version has seven minutes of graphic scenes removed to help make it more palatable to a wider audience. In referring to the film’s projected longevity, an executive with the film company was quoted as saying, “this movie has nine lives.”

I had to smile at the statement. A movie about the greatest story ever told that would not even exist today had Christ not permanently risen from the dead making eternal life possible for multitudes upon multitudes of people who will enjoy eternity with God in heaven has nine lives? Is that all? The movie may die; the story plays on.

There were complaints about the amount of blood in the original film. For that reason I was braced for it when I went to see the movie a year ago. To my surprise, it was the abundance blood that had the greatest impact on me. I watched the Roman soldiers getting splattered with it, and realized it was the blood of their salvation and they didn’t even know it. I watched Mary helplessly trying to wipe it all up, and realized it was the salvation of the whole world and did she know it?

But the big realization was when I connected the blood of Jesus Christ with what was necessary to cover my sin. That’s when there was no longer an issue of too much blood. The new question was: Would there be enough? I suddenly realized I’d been singing R-rated hymns all my life, and I finally understood them.

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins,

And sinners plunge beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains.

That’s a lot of blood. I understand this sentiment. If this blood washes me clean, then I am going to need enough to dive into because I am dirty all over.

The new version was cut to try and lose its R-rated status. In the end, the Motion Picture Association of America refused to rate the recut because there was still too much violence for younger viewers. Fine with me. I always thought the crucifixion of Christ should be R-rated anyway.

What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh precious is the flow

That makes me white as snow.

No other fount I know—

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Too much blood? Never. Just as long as there’s enough for everybody.


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[1]Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Baker encyclopedia of the Bible. Map on lining papers. (786). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House.

[2]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[3]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[4]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[5]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[6]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[7]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[8]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[9]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[10]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[11]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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