Summary: The power of the Lord’s Last Supper is lost on many of us because we fail to understand Jesus’ use of the word Cup; this sermon reveals how the Disciples understood Jesus saying "This is my body" and "Drink this to commemorate me."
REAL PRESENCE OF JESUS CHRIST AT EUCHARIST UNDERSTOOD AS OATH, SACRAMENTUM.
It is impossible in a short space to convey all that should be said on this subject. It would be easy, for me to be misunderstood, because I can only express part of my understanding of this subject in a short space. So note that what is said here is only part of the story. This is the beginning of a discussion on the many meanings inherent in the Eucharist.
This piece, in regard to real presence is to be viewed as a discussion of the meaning of sacrament as sacramentum or oath, by viewing the historic situation in which the Lord’s Last Supper happened.
I. CONSIDER THE JESUS’ USE OF LANGUAGE, THE IDIOMS HE USED.
Jesus said, “This is my body . . . .This is my blood.”
Earlier he had also said, I am the Vine, you are the branches.
He also said, “I am the door of the Sheep . . . .”
He also said, “I am the good shepherd.. . . . “
Jesus was a carpenter, not a shepherd. When a follower of Jesus is called a sheep, we know the language is figurative. Likewise when we call Jesus the Carpenter a Shepherd, we understand the metaphor.
We understand very well what Jesus was saying when he used metaphors and parables.
We get tangled up in trying to make sense of Jesus’ statement at the Last Supper because we read back to the Lord’s Last Supper meanings that the Chuch came to understand later. “This is my body“ is misunderstood because the teachers at various times in Church History have lifted the Lord’s Supper out of its historic context. I am not saying that fuller understandings of the event after His Resurrection are not warranted, I am saying that failing to see clearly what the Disciples would have seen and heard and understood at the Last Supper robs that scene of its power.
So we begin with the proposition that Jesus being a masterful teacher could use symbol, parable, metaphor and figurative language for a purpose. Our first chore in coming to understand the Eucharist is to try to get at the understanding those at the Last Supper had of the significance of the event. That is the first and crucial meaning of the event.
II. THE CONTEXT IN WHICH JESUS SPOKE.
The mid-east, in Jesus day was controlled by an alien, despised power. The subjugated nation into which Jesus was born longed for a leader to drive out the hated Romans.
Only a few days before the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus Himself had been hailed as a deliverer of Israel, a Savior King who would unite the Jews and throw out the Romans. Jesus had rejected this view of the purpose of his life. He was not bringing in the Reign of God by raising an insurrection against Rome.
Earlier on, he had challenged his followers with words that explain clearly the meaning he attached to the Eucharistic Cup on that Passover Eve.
In Mark the 10th chapter is recorded an event when one approached Jesus and said, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit the aionian, the eternal life?”
Jesus said, “You know the commandments, keep them.” The man said, “I have done that from the time I was a youth.” Jesus looked at him, and loved him, and said, “You lack one thing. Sell all that you have, give it to the poor, then you will have treasure in heaven and come, follow me.” The man turned away, for he was wealthy. Jesus said, “Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” Some versions say, “Children how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” With or without trusting in riches it is hard. Riches are only one obstacle. Pride is another, and fear another.
Remember, when Jesus called the first disciples, he called them from their livings, from their work. Peter, James and John had to give up the fishing nets and boats. Levi had to leave his position at the tollbooth collecting taxes.
It was after Jesus said to the young man “Sell all you have, give it away, and come follow me” that Peter said to Jesus “What about us? We have left everything to follow you.”
Jesus said, “Truly I tell you; there is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother, father or children, or land, for my sake and for the gospel who will not receive in this age a hundred times as much – houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and land – AND PERSECUTIONS BESIDES; and in the age to come, eternal life.“
Persecution, a threatening word that, when promising rewards for discipleship. Jesus said to his 12, “Many who are first will be last, and the last first.”