Communion celebrates Jesus’ work (that is, his sacrifice) to make us right with God.
In my prior post, entitled Cannibalism, Communion (aka the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist) was seen as a spiritual invitation to salvation.
Communion is a symbolic rite reminding us of Jesus’ sacrificial death for us as the solution for the wrong things we have done.
This is all good.
However, Paul warns against the abuse of this important ritual. He is critical of those partaking in the practice of communion in “an unworthy manner” and “without discernment.” The result of this mistaking is “judgment” and becoming “weak and sick,” even dying.
He advises the proper approach to Communion is via self-examination, the result of which will most likely be proceeding with reverence and humility. Perhaps that’s why it is often called “Holy Communion.”
Jesus said many things that surprised and even shocked his followers. One of his more appalling statements was that we needed to eat his body and drink his blood. That’s a hard thing to swallow — literally and figuratively. Gross.
He asserted that those who ate his body and drank his blood would have eternal life. Jesus’ followers had trouble dealing with this and many stopped following him because of that. I would have had second thoughts, too.
Of course, Jesus wasn’t issuing a call for cannibalism, he was speaking metaphorically. However, ascertaining precisely what he meant is a bit challenging.
Just as we need food and drink for physical life, we need Jesus’ body and blood (his death) for spiritual life.
Eating his body and drinking his blood is a euphemism for accepting him and his death as the solution for the wrong things we have done.
Also, eating his body and drinking his blood foreshadows communion (aka the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist), which serves as a regular reminder of his sacrificial death for us.
Eating his body and drinking his blood was not a physical call to cannibalism, but a spiritual invitation to salvation.
Among the many “laws” (that is, rules and regulations for right behavior), that God — through Moses — gave the nation of Israel was an unconditional prohibition against drinking blood.
Every Hebrew would have been taught this from early childhood. Breaking this law would have been unthinkable to them, a repulsive act to even consider. Drinking blood was strictly verboten.
Then Jesus came along with his radical teaching that shocked many. He told his followers that they needed to drink his blood. His followers — all Hebrews — were appalled. Viewing his statement as heresy, many turned their backs on him and left.
The idea was so repulsive to them that they were unable to get past the shock of a literal interpretation to consider that it might just have a figurative meaning.
In making this bold statement, Jesus was foreshadowing his sacrificial death. Succinctly, his blood would be spilt as a redeeming, life-restoring sacrifice.
Jesus wasn’t contradicting the laws of Moses. Instead, he voiced his intention to fulfill it.