Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Catechism #37

Q. What is the second sacrament?
A. The second sacrament is the Lord’s Supper, in which believers symbolically partake in the body and blood of Jesus.

As we saw last week, a sacrament is an outward sign that represents an inward expression. The first of the two sacraments is baptism, and the second is the Lord’s Supper.

Also known as Communion and the Last Supper, the Lord’s Supper refers to the final meal Jesus ate with His disciples on the night of His arrest. During the meal Jesus used two elements to paint a picture His followers would never forget. He told them as often as they ate the bread and drank the fruit of the vine, they were to remember His body and blood.

What we need to remember about this meal is that it was not a random menu; those men in the Upper Room, as well as Jews everywhere, were eating the traditional Passover meal, which was a celebration of the day God led their ancestors out of Egyptian bondage, and spared their firstborn sons by passing over every house that applied the blood of a substitute lamb to the door.

The bread that Jesus broke, symbolizing His body, was called the Afikomen; at the beginning of the meal the leader (in this case, Jesus) would take three pieces of matzo, then select the middle piece, and hide it away wrapped in white linen. At the end of the meal the middle piece would be found, broken, and eaten. This matzo represented Jesus in every way—He is the middle person of the Trinity; the matzo has both stripes and holes all through it, just as Jesus was pierced and whipped (by His stripes we are healed!); as the matzo was hidden and wrapped in white, then later revealed, so Jesus was buried, wrapped in white, and later resurrected.

For so long the matzo had represented the Passover lamb, one without spot or defect. The matzo was baked without leaven, which is a fermenting agent representing decay. In essence, the matzo was pure. Jesus told His disciples to no longer eat the matzo while thinking about the Passover lamb, but thinking about Him, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

Similarly, the cup that Jesus drank (the third of the four Passover cups) was known as the Cup of Redemption. That cup also represented the shed blood of the Passover lamb, which allowed all who trusted God’s promise to be saved. The Passover leader would remind his family of that lamb, but Jesus said, “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood (Matthew 26:27-28).” As often as we observe the Lord’s Supper, we do it remembering Jesus.

This sacrament does not save us; it is just an outward sign of an inward expression.

No comments: