THIS DO IN REMEMBRANCE|
Posted: June 6, 2006
Growing up in Richfield I remember riding my bike "uptown" for the big parade on Memorial Day. The high school band, along with a mixed assembly of people, vehicles, tractors, and bicycles gathered in the parking lots of the local library and Masonic hall, awaiting the signal to begin. As the band struck up with the crisp military staccato of a rousing march the parade would move out onto the road. Led by flag squads, veteran's groups, police and fire vehicles, local dignitaries and scout groups, we kids would ride our bikes along behind as the parade and its spectators made their way to the cemetery.
At the cemetery we would gather with the parade units and spectators as the band played the Star Spangled Banner, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited (including the words "UNDER GOD"!), prayers were offered, and speeches were made. Toward the end of the ceremony a rifle squad would fire off a 21-gun salute in honor of those who died in service to our country and the haunting strains of a bugle sounding forth Taps would fill the air.
The annual Memorial Day parade and ceremony marked a somber, bittersweet occasion for many. For us kids it was a special day, a fun day because of the parade. Oh, we were aware that there was a war going on in some far off place called Vietnam. We knew that many families had blue stars in their windows, some even had a gold star. We had heard stories of World War 1, World War 2, and Korea and even watched as veterans of those wars stood at attention, saluting as the flag went by. We never fully understood or appreciated the occasional tear that came to their eyes at the time though.
As I grew older I began to understand more of what Memorial Day was about. I realized that it is indeed a special day and much more than just a fun day. It is a day of remembrance. A day to honor family members, neighbors, friends, and comrades in arms who had given the ultimate sacrifice to purchase, preserve, and ensure the freedoms that we take for granted in our great country.
Just as our country has provided a way to remember those who sacrificed their lives for our civil freedoms, God has provided a way for us to remember the One who sacrificed His life for our spiritual freedom. It is called the Lord's Supper.
Jesus and His disciples met in the upper room prior to His death, burial, and resurrection to observe the Passover. As they sat at the table Jesus "...took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:19-20)". In doing so He gave in advance an illustrative means for us to remember the sacrifice that He was about to make.
The bread that Jesus broke for the disciples was a special type of bread. It was unleavened bread. Essentially it was a flat bread made with oil and flour, without yeast or any other leavening agent.
Most of the bread we eat today is leavened bread. Now it may not sound too appetizing to say this but leavened bread has undergone a natural decomposition process. When yeast is introduced into the lump of dough it begins to digest or decompose the carbohydrates in the dough. Carbon dioxide is given off and the lump starts to rise. This process is called fermentation and helps to produce the texture, taste, and aroma that we enjoy.
Now, with this bit of biology and bakery in mind, consider what Jesus said to the disciples in Matthew 16: "Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. Ö How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. (Matthew 16:6, 11-12)"
That is why Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8: "Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
Leaven or yeast, because it is an agent of decomposition, represents sin in the Bible. Sin, like leaven corrupts that which is good. However, Jesus Christ was untouched by corruption. He was untouched by the leaven of sin. According to Hebrews 4:15, He "...was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." And, as Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:22, He "...did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth".
It is for this very reason that Jesus used unleavened bread when instituting the Lord's supper. Leavened bread would represent a body corrupted and tainted by sin. As such it would be a poor, dare I say sacrilegious if not blasphemous, representation of the perfect, sinless, holy body of the Lord Jesus Christ that was given for us.
Likewise, just as the unleavened bread represented Christ's body, the pure unfermented juice of the grape represented His precious blood. It, like the bread, was untouched by the decaying processes of fermentation. Consequently, only unfermented grape juice can picture the pure blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for our sin.
Remember, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Ö Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (1 Peter 1:18-19, 23)"
Besides, nowhere do the Scriptures say that Jesus used fermented wine in the Lord's Supper. In fact, the Bible refers to it as "the cup," "the fruit of the vine," and Jesus' "blood". The term, "fruit of the vine" is an expression referring to the fresh juice or blood of the grape.
We also need to understand that the word wine was often used to refer to everything from fresh pressed grape juice to concentrated juice that had been boiled down to a thick syrupy consistency as much as one tenth or one twentieth the original volume. It also could be used to refer to the reconstituted syrup when it was mixed with water and served. Fermented wine was only one of the juice products originally referred to by the word wine. Today, however, wine has come to mean only the fermented product.
Those who insist on using fermented wine at the Lord's Supper fall in the same category as those who would use leavened bread. If you insist on it out of tradition you are guilty of "Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. (Mark 7:13)".
Another prevalent error in regards to the Lord's Supper has to do with its meaning. Jesus said in the Scriptures, "this do in remembrance of me." It is not done for any other reason. It has no saving or other meritorious value. It does not in some strange or mysterious was become the very body and blood of Christ nor does Jesus inhabit the bread and grape juice so that His followers can literally consume His body and blood (Those that would cite John 6:48-58 need to remember verse 63: "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.").
When He held up the bread and the cup it was an illustration of His body that was soon to be given and His blood that was to be poured out for us on the cross. Each time we participate in the Lord's Supper we are participating in a very special act of worship as we remember Jesus, "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)" "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. (1 Corinthians 11:26 )"
So, the next time Memorial Day rolls around, pause to remember those who gave their all for our civil freedoms. Then give thanks to the One who gave His all for our spiritual freedom.
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