Scripture: Mark 14:12-16, 22-25
The Passover meal had to be prepared in a certain way and had a distinct form. It included four points at which the presider, holding a glass of wine, got up and explained the feast’s meaning. The four cups of wine represented the four promises made by God in Exodus 6:6-7. These promises were for rescue from Egypt, for freedom from slavery, for redemption by God’s divine power, and for a renewed relationship with God. The third cup came at a point when the meal was almost completely eaten. The presider would use words from Deuteronomy 26 to bless the elements — the bread, the herbs, the lamb — by explaining how they were symbolic reminders of various aspects of the early Israelites’ captivity and deliverance. For example, he would show them the bread and say, “This is the bread of our affliction, which our fathers ate in the wilderness.”
One more example: I read some years ago in National Geographic that after a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, some forest rangers began a trek up a mountain to survey the damage. One ranger found a bird of which nothing was left but the carbonized, petrified shell, covered in ashes, huddled at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by this eerie sight, the ranger knocked the bird over with a stick — and three tiny chicks scurried out from under their dead mother’s wings. When the blaze had arrived, the mother had remained steadfast instead of running. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings lived. “And Jesus said, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” Luke 13:34). He did indeed gather Jerusalem’s children under his wings — and he was consumed. All real, life-changing love is costly, substitutionary sacrifice.
Jesus says, “Take it”. He lets us know that we have to take what he is doing for us. We have to receive it actively. It is common to distribute the Lord’s Supper and say, “Feed on Him in your hearts by faith.” You don’t get the benefit of food unless you take it and digest it. You can have a meal piled high in front of you, all the food cooked to perfection, and you could still starve to death. To be nourished by a meal, you have to eat it. The excellent preparation of the food doesn’t help you if you’re not willing to pick it up and take it into yourself. Taking it is the same as saying, “This is the real food I need — Christ’s unconditional commitment to me.
—Timothy Keller, King’s Cross
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