Barry Newman's Blog

July 4, 2010

Christ Centred Communion – Further Thoughts (part XXI)

Filed under: Christ Centred Communion,Uncategorized — barrynewman @ 10:25 pm

Understanding “Poieite” as “You are doing” and the words, “as often as” – 1 Corinthians 11: 24 -26

What are we to make of Paul quoting Jesus as saying “as often as” in relation to the drinking of the wine in v. 25 and Paul’s own use of that notion in v. 26 remembering that Luke makes no mention of Jesus saying, “as often as”?  It may be that Jesus never actually used a word that could be translated, “as often as”.  However, it is inconceivable that in any future Passover meal celebrations the disciples would not see the meal as a remembrance event that focussed on the death of Jesus.  Consequently even if Jesus did not explicitly refer to the notion, “as often as” it would certainly be implicit.  However, let us assume that Jesus made an explicit reference to, “as often as” which Luke himself did not explicitly refer to.  Let us also make the reasonable assumption that Paul’s “as often as” in the discourse of Jesus is just as applicable to the eating of the bread (v. 24) as it is to the drinking of the wine (v. 25)

Let us also consider the possibility that “poieite” should be understood as a statement and not a command.  Then we seem to have Jesus, as Paul reports him, in effect saying, with respect to both the bread and the wine, ‘You are doing “this” in remembrance of me, whenever you celebrate Passover.’  That Passover would have been in mind is assumed because the setting for these statements made by Jesus is the Passover meal and the bread and wine referred to are bread and wine of that meal. 

Of course, the theology of 1 Corinthian 11: 24-26 is at least as rich as that which was unpacked in our discussion of Luke 22: 19.  Repeating, with a few additional words[1], what was said earlier, Jesus is saying, “You have not realised it, you don’t even realise it now, but the truth is, as you eat this Passover bread and as you drink this Passover wine, you are dealing with an event, though occurring long ago that has its fulfilment in me.  My imminent death is for that salvation that the Exodus event only points to.  You are at the peak of history.  You are doing this not ultimately in remembrance of an event past but in remembrance of the event about to take place – my death that inaugurates the new covenant.”  Furthermore, if what was argued above is correct, the Corinthian text makes explicit what was implicit in Luke -“whenever you participate in Passover meals you will be remembering me”.

Additionally however, what is implicit in Luke, and explicit in 1 Corinthians, could be considered to have another aspect.  Jesus could be saying, “And this has always been the case.  The redemption of the Israelites was always a reflection of, always a pointer to, the greatest redemption event – my death.” That is, Jesus could be understood to be claiming overall that, “Though not known, though not understood, the celebration of Passover in the past has always been a remembrance event of me and the redemption I accomplish. Though you do not know, though you do not understand, the celebration of Passover on this occasion is a remembrance event of me and the redemption I accomplish.  Furthermore, whenever in the future you celebrate Passover, you will be doing so in remembrance of me and the redemption I accomplish.” 

Jesus spoke of the Scriptures bearing witness to him (John 5: 39) and that in particular Moses wrote of him (John 5: 46).  And as mentioned earlier, Luke’s fulfilment texts, specifically refer to the suffering Christ (Luke 24: 25-27, 44-46).  Do we not have rich evidence of the scriptures bearing witness to the Christ who was to suffer in the Last Passover meal and all the richer if “poieite” is understood as a statement rather than a command?

[1] The additional words are “and as you drink this Passover wine”.


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