Barry Newman's Blog

October 14, 2009

Christ Centred Communion (part XV)

In Summary

There was a request by Jesus for his disciples to view the Last Passover Meal in a new way.  Whenever such a Passover meal was to be held in the future, by any of his followers, they were to interpret the meal differently to the way that any had done in the past.  They were to remember that he, by his death, was the ultimate saviour who delivers his people from the consequences of their sins.  It would be a once a year remembrance.  However, because his followers, Jews and Gentiles, had this one common allegiance to the Lord who had died for them they often came together to share a meal but more frequently than once a year. Yet at these meals there was no requirement for them to conduct a Christian ceremony nor does it appear that they did so. If the request of Jesus was meant to be an instruction applicable beyond Passover meals and to be understood as a commandment for his people, both Jews and Gentiles, for all time, it is odd that of all the Gospels, only Luke records the words, “Do this in remembrance of me”.  One would expect to find such a global and important commandment to be found in all Gospels. Furthermore, unless one considers the sentiments of 1 Corinthians 11: 23 – 26 to constitute the single exception, no such instruction is given by Paul, James, Peter or John in any of their letters. 

Many of  the Corinthian Christians came from and still lived in a pagan world and had to be careful about what they ate at their meals, community or otherwise.  They were to refrain from eating meat that they knew had been offered to idols.  Neither the wine they drank, nor the bread they ate, indeed, nothing about their meals, was to be associated with the gods of the pagan world.  When, as Christians, they shared meals with each other they were to recognise the bond that they had with each other because they had the one Lord who had died for them. They were to treat one another as all one in Christ and this was to be evident in the conduct of their meals. They came together to eat.  They did not come to participate in a Christian ceremony.  When Paul refers to, as the translators have it, “The Lord’s Supper” it is not his title for a Christian ceremony. He is making a reference to a meal which does not have the Lord’s stamp upon it.  It does not seem that there ever was a ceremony or rite observed by Christians of the New Testament reflective of the Last Passover Meal.  Given the nature of the gospel and the freedom from Law that it entails – for freedom Christ has set us free (Gal. 5: 1) it would at least be very odd if not contradictory for there to be any ceremony the observance of which was mandatory.

If we were to have a community meal like the Corinthian Christians we would need to get it right where they got it wrong. It would need to be a meal in which Christ, the one who died for us and by that death brought us together, was honoured.  We would love one another no matter what our differences in education, social standing, gender, or culture because we would see ourselves as all one under Christ, the Christ who died for us  Others would know that we were disciples of Jesus because of the love that we would display towards one another (John 13: 35).  It would be “Christ Centred Fellowship” – “Christ Centred Communion.” And Christ’s death and its significance for us would be obvious.  The Lord’s death would be proclaimed.

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