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Communion Meditations (2022)


Bread of Heaven

Originally scheduled for January 2

Death Valley National Park is none too humble about it: it is the hottest place on earth. The visitors guide for the summer months includes the following warning:

Exploring safely in the summer means being inside an air conditioned vehicle or going higher in elevation. Spending more than a few minutes in the extreme heat can quickly lead to dehydration and heat illness, as you lose more water by sweating than your body can absorb by drinking.

Perhaps this gives you some idea of how the ancient Israelites felt when they found themselves rather lost in the desert in Sinai. Option A: starve to death. Option B: a miracle. Of course, we know that they received manna from heaven, the bread of angels, the bread of life. They probably didn’t recognize it at the time, but it was a forerunner of what Christ would establish in what we now call communion, or the Lord’s Supper. One key point which we should recognize here: God provided a way when it was apparent there was no way. It set the pattern for what Christ would do later.

The central mystery of this, however, came before the establishment of the Lord’s Supper. We can read about it from John chapter 6:

So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. "For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. "This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever."

(John 6:53-58 NASB)

It took approximately two verses for his disciples to complain.

Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?"

(John 6:60 NASB)

You can see their point. It is more than a difficult saying; it is something that is beyond human comprehension. How is it possible the Christ, in his physical human body on earth, can look at a loaf of bread and say, “This is my body…”? We logically ask, which is it? Is it his physical body, or the bread? If you’re not confused with that, remember that the church is always described as the body of Christ.

Your author cannot provide you with a definitive answer. But there is one thing you should remember: God never said you would understand what he meant. He just said it’s true. Take it as the truth, beyond your understanding.

Consider this thought from Thomas Á Kempis: if you knew the answer to the dilemma, what would you do differently? Would you not still partake of communion as your Lord commanded? Your Lord provided all the information you really need when he established the Lord’s Supper. He told you what to do and how to do it. As he did with the ancient Israelites, God has provided a way to do as he commanded. You don’t have to understand it; you just have to do it. So when he established the Lord’s Supper he gave you a practical demonstration of how it was done. As you eat this body and drink this blood, the bread and the cup, remember you don’t have to understand it. You just have to do it in an honest and sincere manner. Our faith is not in a system or a theology, but the Son of God himself.

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