Thursday, March 22, 2012

This Is My Body; This Is My Blood

Mark 14:22-25 (ESV)
And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." [23] And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. [24] And he said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. [25] Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."

The Lord’s Supper. Jesus institutes it here, one of the four times the words of institution are encountered in scripture. It is perhaps the most peculiar of them. Eating is implied with the word take, but is not expressly mentioned. He tells them it is his body. “this is my body” it stands out, almost stands alone, as if to emphasize what it is, his body.
It is only after the disciples have drunk from the cup, then that he tells them what it is they have just drunk. Again Mark’s word order is at odds with the word order recorded elsewhere. Instead of “this is the New Testament in my blood” we have “This is my blood, of the Testament poured out for many.” I know the translation says covenant. Diatheke properly understood is a Testament, yet a testament is a type of covenant. I think it only proper to emphasize the Testamental character of this “covenant” as a testament goes into effect when the testator dies; I think it says something about that somewhere, Hebrews or something. I long for the days when people would riot over the changing of words with less meaning in a translation. Like when the early Christians rioted because Jerome translated Ivy instead of Gourd.
I think though in this rendition of the words of institution is that which is missing. See it yet? There is no talk of this being about remembrance. I’m not saying that remembrance isn’t part of the Lord’s Supper. But Mark doesn’t emphasize it at all. What is important here, is that it is Christ’s Body, and it is his blood. The remembrance part doesn’t need to be said. If you are eating his body and drinking his blood you will remember he who gave you that body and blood. But remembrance which most protestants want to emphasize, as if, if it was a meal of remembrance there would be no way that it could be what Christ says it was, his body and blood, but only a meal of remembrance, well that doesn’t even make it into Mark’s Gospel. And Mark had Matthew’s example already. He is trying to say something here! Primarily, it isn’t about remembering, it is about participating in the Passover Christ is preparing for us with his sacrifice. It is about this first and foremost.
One has to worry when you see people bringing in dichotomies that aren’t readily apparent from the text itself. When people think that if it is done in remembrance it can’t be what Christ says it is. As if the only way one could remember Christ is if it was wine and bread alone and not his body and blood. Or that the fact first Peter 3 says baptism isn’t a removal of dirt means that the previous line about it saving can’t be true. Evidently, Baptists think we need to be saved from dirt? When we partake of Christ’s body and blood, we remember Jesus in a very special and Biblical way, we partake in the sacrifice the Passover he prepared for us.


Stickhorsecowgirls said...

I've been told (obviously, since I do not read Greek)that the verb "IS" as in ("This IS my body--)that the verb is emphatic. Could you explain this? I do believe that he meant it literally and find it ironic that my Baptist friends say they believe in literal interpretation, except for Holy Communion and Baptism.

Mark Olson said...

The Lord's Supper is so special because of Jesus and His real presence.

Bror Erickson said...

wow, you've been following for so long, and just now you comment?
Is means is. There are different ways of saying is in Greek, just as there are in Spanish and so on. Mostly concerning what it is you are talking about. An is of place and and is of being.
The is used here is one of being. But more so the emphasis is given by word order in Greek, not necessarily the words used. Mark's word order is peculiar in emphaszinge the link between this and Christ's body, the cup and Christ's blood. Really there is no way to interpret this figuratively. I also find the baptist's position to be a bit ironic. they have a literal interpretation for everything except that which is meant to be taken literally.