Summary: Forth of Five in series on Why Do We Do What We Do? So what is the idea with a little bit of bread and a tiny cup of grape juice? Is it really the body and blood of Jesus and if it is why is this a sacred thing for Christians. What is the purpose? Who
So what is the idea with a little bit of bread and a tiny cup of grape juice? Is it really the body and blood of Jesus and if it is why is this a sacred thing for Christians. What is the purpose? Who is it for? What is it about?
The Last Supper
Most people are familiar with Leonardo Devinci’s painting of the Last Supper.
While it isn’t entirely accurate (people in Jesus days reclined to eat rather than sitting at a table) it still captures the essences of the evening. There are his closest friends spending a nice evening celebrating the Jewish Passover.
There is the proud impetuous Peter; the careful, skeptical Thomas; the unsophisticated sons of Thunder, James and John. There are all of the other disciples closest to Jesus and there is Judas who, torn between guilt and greed, will that very evening sell his friend’s life for 30 silver coins.
But most of all – there is Jesus. He is pictured in the center of this rather eclectic group of would be leaders. Everything has come to focus at this moment in time. In fact all of the history of human kind either builds to or builds on the hours which start at this table and end in an empty tomb three days later.
All of Jesus’ life takes meaning in this moment. It was to be an event and moment so important that it demanded a memorial.
This is not new. We are used to such things.
In fact, we need and demand them. From the very beginning of time when God flooded the earth and then majestically gave Noah a rainbow to the crude pile of rocks Jacob and Labon piled up to mark the time and place when they separated from each other and agreed to not hurt one another.
Significant events demand significant memorials in life.
The more significant the event, the more lives involved, or the more important the life, the greater the memorial is needed.
Today there are those who are struggling to build a fitting memorial for 9/11 in New York City on the site of the World Trade Center. We have seen the memorial build on the site of the Oklahoma City Bombing. Some of us have visited the Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor. Our cities are full of memorials. Some like the Viet Nam Memorial created to remember the 50,000 lives lost. We have literally millions of memorials covering fields and hills with individual pillars of stone and markers of marble – they recognize the significance of the lives spent here on this earth.
Jesus’ memorial would be different than these.
There was a Death – But there was also resurrection.
There was sacrifice and heroic love. But there was also victory and promise. The moment would not end in tragedy. It would end in hope and salvation.
Jesus did not leave what other men leave. There is no tomb like that of Egyptian Pharaoh’s. There is no marvelous bust like that of Julius Caesar. There is no great city with his name on it like Washington, D.C. There isn’t even a small village like the one named Williamston (short for William’s Town) or the one named Okemos (named after a local Indian Chief).
No, the memorial Jesus left for us would be quite different.
There is something compelling about a cemetery
Some people are afraid of these places. They conjure up images of ghosts, vampires, devils, and demons. They are pictured as dark and dreary, scary, and to be avoided except when duty demands.
There is an old story about a man who used to walk home from work by way a cemetery. One dark moonless night on the way home from work he essentially had to feel his way across the dark fields and in between the markers. Unfortunately for him a fresh grave had been dug and he slipped into it.
The grave was deep and it’s walls were steep and he tried for several hours to climb out – without success. Finally, tired, cold and weary he leaned against a corner of the pit, put his head on his knees and fell asleep.
Another man came along some time later following the same short cut through the cemetery on his way home. It was still very dark and he too fell into the same pit. While the man in the corner was slowly coming to his senses having been in a deep sleep the second man was rather frantically trying to get out – thinking he was quite alone.
For some time the second man jumped and grabbed hold of bits of grass trying to get out and was as unsuccessful as the first man – now sitting groggily in the corner watching. Finally the first man said, “You’ll never get out of here.” But he did!