Links Daily Devotional

Bread and Wine

“This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19, NIV)

Golf, like other sports, is not a game of symbols. A bad shot is a bad shot. And while it is possibly the sign of a bad swing, it is not the symbol of it. No one has ever waxed eloquent about a shank!

In fact, disciplines rarely provide metaphors within themselves. Rather, they help us cross from one world to another, so to speak. Thus, a gardener’s red rose may be a suitor’s sign of affection. And a mulligan in golf has been taken up as a picture of second chances, even God’s grace.

In the hours before his arrest, Jesus sat at the Passover table with his 12 closest followers and spoke to them of his death. He did so using the meal before him.

The bread, he said, was the symbol of his body. No, he was more direct than that: “This is my body,” he stated, “given for you.”

The wine, he said, was the symbol of his blood to be poured out for them. No, he was more direct than that: “This cup,” he stated, “is the new covenant in my blood.”

Different church traditions, we know, handle this differently. Some lean toward literalism, others toward metaphor, when it comes to the bread and the cup. To quibble over that question is to obscure the point.

The point is the body. The point is the blood. The point is remembering the sacrifice of Christ.

In these special days, this Holy Week, we do that. Somberly and thus paradoxically, we celebrate this death of Jesus, for by his blood, poured out for us, our sins are washed away. We should be so breathless in the recognition of that act and its effect that we are unable to mouth arguments about the nature of the dinner courses.

And we should recognize that our melancholy over the death of Jesus can never approach what those 12 and many other disciples endured in the hours to follow. They had no advantage of hindsight, as we do. Our dark mood over the cross is always softened by the playing of the ensuing verses in the hollows of our mind. There we already hear the chords of the dance, the light cadence of the resurrection—call that song a symbol if you like, but it plays literally for many believers!

The bread, the wine. The weight, the lifting. Unwarranted death, eternal life. These are the themes of our calendar this week. They should also be the themes of our heart.

Jeff Hopper
April 2, 2015
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