Tuesday, June 26, 2018

June 27 - Luke 22:19-20


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.” 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 22:19-20


If I asked you to define "institution," what would you say?


·         The first thing we probably think of is a big organization, like a college or a bank.

·         The second thing we may think of is a long-standing societal custom. For example, we may about the institution of marriage.

·         But institution can also refer to an action that establishes a tradition. For example, when Jesus "took bread, gave thanks and broke it," he was instituting the sacrament of holy communion. Indeed, when reading through the Gospels (and even in 1 Corinthians 11), we call the words of Jesus at the Last Supper, "The Words of Institution."


What was he instituting? "The New Covenant!"


The Old Covenant given to Abraham and his descendants. If they would receive (and through the generation keep) the mark (circumcision), they would become and be God's people.


Now, some reduced this to a one-time, once-and-for-all, impersonal, external act. A required ritual. An excuse for a party as the little boy cries. Religious, but not personal: "If you receive the mark on the traditional eighth day after birth, that's all you need."


That's clearly not what God intended, though. And the prophets kept reiterating this. They kept saying that faith is not external actions, but a matter of the heart, a matter of faith. For example, Jeremiah said, "Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, remove the foreskin of your hearts" (Jeremiah 4:4). As the Apostle Paul would say later, "a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal" (Romans 2:29).


In the New Covenant, it isn't you or me or our little boy children who receive the mark. It was Jesus himself. He was "he was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; and upon him was the punishment that made us whole" (Isaiah 53:5).


Sadly, however, some reduced Christ's sacrifice to a one-time, once-and-for-all, impersonal, external act. It's true that Christ's sacrifice opened a door eternally, but God doesn't want for us to treat the cross -- or holy communion -- as mere ritual. He wants us bring the meaning of that external act into our hearts. We are invited to participate in Christ's death -- dying to ourselves and living for him.


In Christ's Love,

a guy who doesn't want

communion or any

sacramental rite to be

a dusty old institution,

but a living reality


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