Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Devotional: What Do We Remember? Mark 14:12-31

Mark 14.12-31 outline

The next section recounts Jesus’ Passover celebration with his disciples. It actually would not have been much of a celebration for them because Jesus again uses the meal to announce his death, the betrayal of Judas, and the denial by all the disciples. Mark again uses his typical “sandwich” method of presentation as he brackets Jesus’ explanation of the new covenant and new community that will be inaugurated by his death and resurrection, with his two predictions of denial and betrayal by his closest friends. While this must have horrified and surprised the twelve (indicating that they still were not listening and did not understand what Jesus was all about), Jesus words and actions show that he knew exactly what we was doing and what would happen. This was God’s plan from before the beginning and Jesus was giving his life willingly, as the Passover lamb, to become the ultimate sacrifice to defeat the greatest enemy and liberate his people from sin and death. Jesus was in control of the situation and would work through even through the disciples’ weakness (14:28) to create a new community based on the forgiveness and new life created by his poured out blood and broken body.

It was a custom at the Passover meal for someone to ask about the meaning of the meal. Jesus uses this opportunity to explain the new meaning and the new kingdom community his death and resurrection would create. Just as the original Passover sacrifice created the nation of Israel out of slaves, the sacrifice of Jesus would free humankind from sin, death and evil, create the church as a new community of Christ followers and unite them, by the indwelling Spirit, into a people that images Christ as his “body” until he returns. The Lord’s Supper would replace the Passover as the celebration of this new age; a cosmic day of liberation. It is interesting that Jesus chooses the bread rather than the meat of the Passover as the symbol of his body. This time the sacrifice is complete and does not need to be repeated. The bread symbolizes the indwelling Christ who binds the new community together and empowers it for service. The wine symbolizes the blood that is poured out to bring us into intimate relationship with God. Just as the disciples distributed the bread which Jesus multiplied to the four and five thousand, we are now empowered by Christ, as we “eat the bread” and “drink the blood” of covenant commitment to distribute Jesus and his blessings to the world.

The disciples still did not get it. Like Peter they all thought they could this in their own power. Peter pridefully compares his own commitment to the other disciples and receives the rebuke of Jesus. But even with the rebuke Jesus anticipates the forgiveness made possible by his death and resurrection as he says, “after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” The disciples will learn that it is only through intimate connection with Jesus, made possible by his sacrifice and the indwelling Spirit, that we can have fellowship with and serve God. We are dependent every moment on Jesus and what he has done.  This is what we must remember every time we take the bread and the cup.

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