Originally scheduled for November 4
In the middle of the 19th century,
the European wine industry was faced with a crisis. A strange
disease was destroying all of the vines which produced wine grapes.
The culprit was a small aphid which poisoned the roots of the vines.
The solution was rather unorthodox. There was no pesticide available
which could kill this aphid, but grapevine roots from North America
were naturally resistant. By grafting the European grape vines on
the American roots, the epidemic was stopped. Many European growers
felt that the American roots were inferior, but ultimately they had
no choice. They either grafted onto the American roots, or the
One of the problems the early church faced was
something similar. As the church spread from its Jewish roots into
the Gentile world, an explanation was needed for how God would allow
this to happen. After all, the Jews were the chosen people. The
Jewish Christians were confronted with the fact that God wanted this
to happen, but they needed an explanation that would satisfy their
understanding. The solution was in this image of grafting onto an
existing root. The Gentile Christian was grafted onto the Jewish
roots. This, incidentally, is a picture of how it is that a
non-Jewish Christian can claim the Old Testament as part of his
faith. He’s been grafted into the family of God.
Communion is a classic example of this; the
root of communion is Passover. From Passover we inherit a number of
aspects of communion:
Passover required a blameless
sacrifice, just as Christ was our perfect sacrifice on the cross.
The sacrifice produced blood. In
Passover this was used to save the Jews from death in the 10th
plague. In Christianity we know that it is the blood of Christ that
covers our sin.
Before celebrating Passover, the Jew
was required to eliminate all yeast (which symbolically represents
sin) from his house. The Christian is to examine himself and repent
before taking communion.
The Jew was to eat bread which had no
yeast in it for the duration of the Passover feast, just as we are
to keep ourselves from sin.
Only the circumcised could
participate in Passover; only those who believe in Jesus should take
We have been, in a very real sense, “grafted”
into the story that God is telling his children through the years.
The high point of that story so far is the death, burial and
resurrection of Jesus Christ. These are the events that we are to
remember in communion. The bread his body, the cup his blood to
remind us of what he has done for us. Examine yourself, therefore,
and partake in a worthy manner.
The vine does not grow unless it is properly
tended. The remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ, the regular act
of self-examination and repentance, and finally the reminder that
Christ is coming again will serve to help your own vine grow.