The other day I stopped at my mom’s house early in the morning. She was already off and gone for the day, but she had left her coffee in the coffee pot and it was still warm. It seemed like a great day for little coffee in my opinion too. I got a cup prepared it with a little milk and sugar, and did the chores I had come over for. The coffee was great! I asked my mom later on what brand of coffee it was, because it was so good. “Oh,” she replied, “I think it was just Maxell House or Folders vanilla coffee.” Of course it was!
In a day where Starbucks is the big name, and hipsters are particular (or pretend to be) about what type of coffee they’re drinking and how it was roasted, ultimately I am still my grandfather’s granddaughter. I like simple coffee that can take a little sweetener and cream. I’m not really all the fancy, and I am no hipster critic. I know about the different roasting, and some of the fancy names of the coffee related drinks, but at the end of the day, it’s a good old tried & true coffee brand was the one that set my tastebuds on full celebration!
Sometimes the simple things are key or are the reminder of who we are and where we are headed. I have good roots, and it makes me happy when simple things like coffee remind me of those good roots.
Communion is another simple thing which has recently reminded me of good roots, that explain who we are and where we are headed. Whenever I drink grape juice, I still think of the tiny 0.25oz shots of grape juice that were always used in communion from my childhood. I think about the words from the many communions I had been a part of in my growing-up years, “this it my body, broken for you. Take and eat” “This is my blood, poured out for you. Do this is remembrance of me.”
As I was drinking my grape juice, this morning, I thought about how as Christians we love the ideas of the “blood of Christ” and how it’s our atonement or salvation, and how it covers for a us a multitude of sins. We like it when God does stuff for us, and unfortunately some people act like that’s the whole gospel message right there. However, in communion alone, it’s not just about the blood of Christ being poured out for us and providing a cleansing nature, there’s another sacrifice as well: “my body, broken for you” This one seemed a little more mysterious to me. I decided to explore the possibilities of what it could mean, as I ate some toast.
Often in the New Testament section of the Bible the phrase “Body of Christ” can refer to the people of God who believe Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah who brings restoration to all things. The Body of Christ is often synonymous with the church. Is this something Jesus possibly considered when he said “this is my body, broken for you”?
According to St John, none of Jesus bones were broken during his trial and crucifixion, and this was recorded to show the similarity of the tradition of the Passover lamb. He was very beaten up, bruised, and exhausted, so maybe that’s what Jesus meant by “broken”. However, If none of his bones were broken, which is typical what we think of with a broken body, when he said, “This is my body, broken for you” I wonder did he mean his physical body?
Certainly Jesus had an amazing concept of all that was going on and of what would happen. He was more than any of the prophets. With such perspective of God’s overall plan, Is it possible that Jesus knew it would not just be his physical body that would be battered, but more of the body of Christ? Could this be a contributing reason to Jesus overwhelming grief in the garden of Gethsemane?
The authors of Romans & Hebrews talk about how God has chosen the Jews to be God’s representation to all people, and how through history they haven’t always willing kept all that was asked of them, as far as being God’s representation. Ultimately, they were still God’s chosen people, regardless. However, something happens in their story, the author of Romans states it as God set them aside, and opened the doors for non-Jews to also become the people of God.
The truth is, that is one of the things God frequently asked or required of the Jewish people, that as the people of God they would be a light to the nations, a priesthood of people, a blessing to all nations. However there are stories that suggest their leaders didn’t always endorse this assignment as God requested. They became more closed off then God meant for them to be. (a strangely familiar pattern)
So according to the author of Romans, God did the dramatic task of opening the door to the Gentiles, and for a moment putting the Jews on hold. Obviously this isn’t just something God would do because he’s without emotion, but on the contrary, God has always deeply loved Israel. The whole Bible is filled with the language of his love for Israel and of the battle of Israel not truly realizing or coming to her full identity. God chose the Hebrews as people because they weren’t yet a people, they weren’t big and powerful. God choose them because maybe they could relate to the little guy. Maybe Israel could understand the outcast and castoff and the nobodies. Yet the Bible speak of how Israel took God’s love, adoration, and gifts and started to imagine herself to be something “great” like other big and powerful nations. But those weren’t the reasons why God chose the Hebrews, and it wasn’t what he intended for them to become.
Yet through all this, I still don’t think God castoff Israel, but he’s made her wait. She needs to know who she is, but she need to see it from a new perspective.
Again Romans talks about how these Gentile believers, who come to Jesus, will become the very people who make the Jews realize what they’ve had going for them all along. There will be a time when both Gentiles and Jews will be a unity people of God -the very thing which God intended all a long.
So the question remains, Did Jesus see that his death would bring about a sort of necessary brokenness in the body of believers (the body of Christ)? Letting in the Gentiles to make the Jews realize what God had always been intending to do. Did Jesus weep in the garden of Gethsemane, in part, because he would have to put his beloved Israel on hold?
I remember early on in meeting my husband, and the day I thought I’d have to stop pursuing him because I thought I might have been conflicting with where he wanted his spiritual journey to go. I never cried like that day, never before and never since. There was no comfort. My heart was sure that he was the right one for me, but my head said I was getting in his way. I had to step away. It was the most tragic episode of my life. Thank God is was also one of the shortest chapters, which came to a resolve in our going from being friends to dating. God was generous with me at that time. But the pain is unforgettable.
With this unfortunate event in my memory, I can imagine Jesus weeping over having to make any sort of similar decision. Heart break, beyond heart break.
God has always wanted to included all people in on his plan. If the only way this could happen is by the body of Christ being broken so that we could be included, then certainly that is not something to take lightly. We can’t merely focus on how the blood of Jesus washes away our own personal sin, and what Jesus’ own sacrifice has meant for us, but we need to remember and to include our brethren.
If as Christians, we try to say the Jews no longer have a place as God’s people, then how is the different from the historical mistake that Jews might have made when God gave them his plan? If we’re exclusive-ist, then we are not the Gentiles who God’s going to use in his plan.
Again the author of Romans mentions how if God didn’t spare the Jews, his chosen people from the earliest years, then he’s certainly not going to more favorable to us -the newcomers to this faith- if we start acting in the same faults some of them had.
Communion is the bread (the body of Christ) and the wine or cup (the blood of Christ) together, for remembrance of what this Messiah has done, and not just on the cross but continually, even to our day and age. God has opened to us the ability and privilege to walk right up to God and get to know him, and his heart, and where this whole plan of God’s is going to next.
The last thing I want to point out for consideration:
In the book of Revelations, which prepares us for what God will be doing next here on Earth, it has this phrase, “and they over came him (the enemy) by the blood of the Lamb (Christ’s blood) and the power of their testimony.” In Romans and Hebrews, it says the reason that God would put them aside and allow us as Gentiles & outsiders to come in at this time, is for their (Israel’s) redemption. It will take a people who will not only drink the communion cup and enjoy what Christ has done for them personally, but also those who we partake of the bread and see the body of Christ is broken. …but only for a time. For Christ is the restorer of all things, and there will be a day where we dwell together in unity.
It is to be our testimony that God not only loves us, through Jesus Christ, but God also still loves the Jews and the people of Israel, and this will only become evident if we live & believe it with our whole lives. Actions speak louder than words, and this is the power of anyone’s testimony that it’s true throughout our whole lifestyle and not just in our words and our good days.