Thursday 05 April 2012

Bible Book:

"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." (vv. 24-25)

Mark 14:12-25 Thursday 5 April 2012


Today is Maundy Thursday, when Christians recall the last supperthat Jesus ate with his disciples before his arrest. The events ofthe evening became the basis of the Christian service of theEucharist or Holy Communion.

Just as Jesus seems to have made secret prearrangements about hisentry into Jerusalem (Mark11:1-3), so he apparently booked a private place for himselfand his disciples to eat the Passover meal together. Hisinstructions about preparing the meal include spotting a man who iscarrying a pitcher of water as a signal (men didn't usually do thischore). At the meal itself, his announcements were also clearlypurposeful and pre-planned.

The Passover meal recalls the deliverance of the Israelites fromslavery in Egypt (Exodus 12), and to this day includes symbolicfoods which are interpreted during the course of the meal. Thisstory of deliverance is a crucial part of how the covenant with Godwas understood. What Jesus seems to have done is chosen, duringthis ritual meal about freedom, to introduce some newinterpretations over the bread and wine and apply them to himselfand his message about the kingdom of God. His forthcoming death is"my blood of the covenant". The claim is an enormous one to make.It presents Jesus as the essence and culmination of all thepromises of God through Jewish history, and the means by whichhuman deliverance happens.

It is no wonder that such a purposeful, ritually enacted lastmessage to his disciples became the heart of subsequent Christianworship - and that we are brought closest to the gift andintentions of Jesus through the bodily acts of eating and drinking,not through 'over-thinking' about our faith.

It is worth noticing though that this profound moment was sharednot just by Jesus' friends but by the one who was about to betrayhim (verse 18), and in full knowledge of his imminent mortaldanger. We should not think of communion as something that can onlyhappen when all is harmony and peace. It is a gift we can celebratein the midst of life at its hardest, and even in the company ofthose we do not trust.

To Ponder

Think about a Holy Communion service which youhave attended, which was particularly special in some way. Whatmade it so?

When have you found God in the midst of life atits hardest? What happened?

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