“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotion for Wednesday, February 24, 2021. Artwork by Susan Zendt (c) 2021. Used by permission.
And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. (Mark 14:22-24).
How many times have you heard those words in church? I grew up in the Lutheran church, and have attended worship just about every Sunday for over sixty years. So for me, three thousand times? Give or take a few. I’m used to hearing those words weekly. For the last thirty-five years, I’ve spoken those words weekly at the altar.
What would it be like to hear them for the first time? What would it be like to hear them just hours before Jesus’ arrest in the garden? What would it be like to hear them less than a day before his death and burial?
I’m pretty sure I would wonder, “What are you talking about Jesus?” Every disciple in the room knew that the blood of the covenant was a bull, a lamb, a doves or pigeons offered up at the temple. The blood was an atonement, a “covering,” for sin. Imperfect, sinful, unclean people cannot come to worship a holy God. A sacrifice must be made – a price must be paid – or I will be shut out from the presence of the Lord. My prayers will go unheard. My cries for mercy will not reach his ears. My life will remain in the pit. I will be in “deep yogurt.” (I got that from a friend of mine in Crosstrainers a long time ago.)
His body? His blood? What does that mean? What is going to happen? They had no clue. The unleavened bread (matzah) and wine of the Passover meal was what it was. A remembrance of God’s power to save his people. It was a reminder of his involvement in the lives of his people. It was a continual memorial to his great love for us! After more than a thousand years, how could Jesus now change that ancient tradition?
Well, it’s because Jesus is the one who will save God’s people. He is the incarnate one who gets involved in our lives. He has come to save! He is the one who will clearly show God’s love when he dies on the cross. This tradition, this story, this moment, is all about him.
The disciples eating bread and drinking wine with him wouldn’t get it till later. After his death. After the resurrection. After they got to see him alive again! The pieces would all fall into place when they heard his voice, saw his wounds, and experienced his presence.
What happens when you hear the words, his words, “this is my body” and “this is my blood” in the sacrament? Do you make the connection? Do you see God’s plan? Does he make a connection with you?
Heavenly Father, no matter how many times I eat and drink, the sacrament connects me with my Savior, your grace and new life. Thank you so much for the words and the meal. Amen.