Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Lord's Evening Meal as Sacrifice

One Scriptural passage that has really helped me to
appreciate tomorrow night's upcoming Memorial of Christ's
death on Nisan 14 is 1 Corinthians 10:18:

"Look at that which is Israel in a fleshly way: Are
not those who eat the sacrifices sharers with the

When posing this rhetorical query, Paul alludes to the
OT practice of communion sacrifices. One can find a
lovely description of such offerings in Leviticus
7:1-38. I want to recount briefly what that Biblical
chapter says and apply it to the apostolic words found in 1
Corinthians 10:18ff.

The communion sacrifices were peace offerings designed
to restore the broken relationship that obtained
between God and His ancient worshipers. It was a holy
presentation to Almighty God (YHWH), and when offering
a communion sacrifice, the Israelites were fittingly
obligated to give their best to Jehovah (YHWH).

Leviticus 7:28-30 mandates that one presenting a
communion sacrifice to Jehovah should offer the "fat
upon the breast" to God as a wave offering.
(Leviticus 7:30 briefly explains what a wave offering
entailed.) In addition to offering the fat and the
blood to Jehovah or YHWH (Leviticus 7:33), the one presenting
peace offerings to God was also commanded to give "the
right leg" of his sacrifice as "a sacred portion" to
the officiating priests. Furthermore the High Priest
and his sons were to have a share in this communion
offering. What a privilege all those who offered
communion presentations enjoyed! Paul rightly said
that those who sacrificed upon the altar became (by
their respective gifts to God) sharers in the altar.
But how does this levitical practice apply to
Christians today?

As Paul intimates, the Lord's Evening Meal (1
Corinthians 11:20) is the antitype of the OT peace
offerings. Just as ancient worshipers of God brought
their sacrifices to Jehovah in order to repair the
breach that obtained between themselves and God, so
anointed Christians annually observe the Memorial of
Jesus' death in order to remember how God repaired the
figurative breach between God and sinful humanity and
thus fully reconciled His sons to Himself.

Anointed Christians share in the antitypical communion
meal by partaking of Christ's blood (the cup of wine)
and his body (the bread). The emblems at the Memorial
are emblems or signs of the spiritual reality effectuated
by God and Christ. Those who partake of the cup and wine
today share with God's altar as they partake
of a meal, in effect, with Jehovah, His High Priest
(Jesus) and other fellow anointed ones (underpriests). It
is still an inestimable privilege to sit down for a
meal with God. Anointed Christians therefore esteem
the undeserved kindness that has been shown to them
through the Son of God's ransom sacrifice. However
they are not the only ones who benefit from being
present at the yearly communion meal.

The great crowd of other sheep who possess a hope of
living forever, while not partaking of the emblems and
thus sharing in the altar, still have their
appreciation for Christ's sacrifice deepened as they
listen to the discourse given about Jesus' death and
watch the symbols of his death being passed around the
Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. I thus hope that everyone attending the
Memorial this year reflects on what Christ's death
means. May you continue to grow in love and
appreciation for Jehovah God (YHWH) and His Son.

Brotherly love,

No comments: