It has been some time now since I have written a blog post, and I apologize to my faithful readers.
It has been the middle of summer and I have a tendency to get distracted.
The biggest distraction was the wedding of my oldest son a couple of weeks ago. I must confess that while the wedding itself was a joyful event, I found it to be bitter-sweet, and troubling.
This was the first time in over 28 years since my ex-wife and I were in the same room together, other than a court room.
I had prepared a gospel presentation which I was unable to give, and so my own inaction was grievous to me throughout the reception, and for weeks following.
The wedding itself was held in a Roman Catholic Church, and I could not help but think about the errors of that organization throughout the ceremony. Some things were very familiar to me, like the choices of Scripture that were read.
Still I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that every Roman Catholic church contains bones of some “saint” or martyr woven into their elaborate decorations. Mention was made of the nine Jesuit martyrs who were killed by the Iroquois during the war of 1649, and I couldn’t help but wonder which martyr’s bone fragments were in the building we were in.
I cannot help but note the cannibalism in the account of Jean de Brebeuf’s killing, how the Iroquois thought they would partake of their victim’s courage by drinking his blood. Amazingly, the Catholics themselves also ground up parts of his bones and included them in medicines with which, it was claimed, several people were cured from various diseases and “heresy”! (If you are doing the same things the pagans are doing, how are you different?)
Indeed, the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, that one must eat the literal body of Christ to be saved, actually means that one must literally be a cannibal in order to be saved!
While the bible does not specifically address the issue of cannibalism, we can be sure that it was unthinkable to the Hebrew society as a whole, and to most societies in general. Man was made in the image of God, and deserves to be treated with respect. Those who kill others are to be put to death according to the Scriptures.
When Jesus said “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you .” (John 6:53) many of His disciples were offended. The Roman Catholic Church takes this statement to mean that the communion bread, and wine, become the literal body and blood of Jesus, based on His statements in Matthew and Luke;
26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matthew 26:26-28
It is interesting how so many spiritualize and allegorize so much in Scripture, and yet here where Jesus was clearly speaking allegorically, the allegoricists take these statements and make them literal. One of the big objections the reformers had to the Roman Church was the doctrine of transubstantiation, that the bread and wine of the communion table become the literal body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. If only professing Christians would keep on reading, they would understand what is being said! Well, okay, they need to keep on reading with reliance upon the Holy Spirit, but when we do He points out our errors, and corrects us.
Luke records the purpose of this command, by the way;
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Luke 22:19
Yes that’s right, it was a means whereby we are to remember Him, and His sacrifice for us. A memorial! The very word “remembrance” has the same root as “memorial”!
In the very next breath, in John chapter 6, Jesus explains what he means when he says “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you”
61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:61-63
“The flesh profiteth nothing”! Essentially He is saying that if someone had licked-up some of the blood on the ground under the cross, and/or snuck into the tomb and snipped off an ear, and literally ate the body and blood of Jesus Christ, they would have been just as lost, after doing it, as they were before!
…Keep on reading!
“the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” He is not saying that these particular words are life, but that everything he taught throughout His ministry is life! Jesus is saying that His words are who He is, and we must take them in, and digest them and make them a part of ourselves, in the same way we take a piece of meat and digest it so that the protein it contains becomes a part of our own muscles.
The picture of eating the words of God can be found repeatedly in Scripture
2:9 And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; 10 And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe. 3:1 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. 2 So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. Ezekiel 2:9-3:3
8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. 9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. 10 And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
Many people eat a little bread, and sip a little wine, at communion (or mass) and walk away totally unchanged. The flesh has no benefit! Jesus is telling us that we need to take His words and make them a part of ourselves! His goal for us is to make us like Himself, and that won’t happen if all we do is eat some bread and call it “the body of Christ”!
Faith means we take His words, believe them, and make them a part of our selves!
This is why Jesus Christ Himself is called “the Word” of God. Words are important to God. God never lies, and never deceives, although He is able to use the lies and deceptions of others to His own ends. His word is more important to Him than His very name!
I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. Psalms 138:2
Jesus is the Word, and the Word is Jesus. The Word of God is the visible revelation of God on the earth!
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
It is the words of Jesus which give us life, and not only this one statement, but everything He said throughout the gospels, and even those words of His which are recorded in the epistles and Revelation. In fact the whole bible is the Word of God and must be taken as one revelation from Genesis to Revelation. God who walked with Adam in the garden is none other than a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As it says about Abraham, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness”.
Do you believe God?