Barry Newman's Blog

June 18, 2010

Christ Centred Communion – Further Thoughts (part XIV)

Filed under: Christ Centred Communion — barrynewman @ 9:11 pm

Understanding “Poieite” as “You are Doing” and the so-called Oddity of Jesus not having yet Died

Whether Jesus uttered a command or a statement, his words, “This is my body which is given for you. ‘Poieite’ this in remembrance of me.” is a reference to his death that has not yet occurred.  Thus there might appear to be two oddities. His body has not yet been given and furthermore, as a consequence, the remembrance is associated with the future rather than the past.  Traditionally, we recognise that Jesus is stating something in a startling fashion and we do not baulk at the idea that he can speak of his “body given for you” though it has not yet been given.  Traditionally we also consider that Jesus is issuing a command or making a request to call to mind, to remember, what he is about to accomplish.  However I have argued that Passover meals were in themselves remembrance events and that Jesus is saying that his disciples must look on this last Passover meal itself, as well as any future Passover meals that they celebrate, in a new way, seeing in what they do a new remembrance event in which he and his death are central.

Now, if we understand that Jesus is making a statement rather than a command, the remembrance he refers to is less of an oddity.  He is indeed referring to his death in terms of his body which has not yet been given but the remembrance is in terms of what they are in fact currently doing.  As suggested earlier, he is saying, that though they don’t know it they are involved in a remembrance event that has his redemptive death as its focus. God’s great act of deliverance in the past could not but point forward to his greatest of all great acts of deliverance, an act of salvation about to take place. Additionally, perhaps he is saying that this has always been the case whenever the Passover has been celebrated. He has been the focus of the remembrance event without anyone realising it.  This idea is taken up again when considering 1 Corinthians 11: 24-26.

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Concluding the argument at this stage, I think the suggestion that Jesus is making a statement rather than a command has greater explanatory power from a number of points of view.  Even if this is not admitted, one is not entitled to categorically state that “poieite” has to be understood as a command on the basis of the text of Luke alone.  That it could be understood as a statement is at least equally justifiable.  In fact in my judgement the evidence favours the idea that Jesus is making the statement, “You are doing this.”

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