Participation

The story of Jesus is unique among religious literature. 
Instead of mankind desperately seeking God, God came to earth as a man to break the in barrier between God and man.  Instead of poets dreaming up gods of their own imaginations, God revealed exactly who He is: the face, the voice, the touch of Jesus.  The glory of Jesus is not a glory to be achieved; it is a glory to simply behold in humility, repentance, and faith.

The Table of the Lord demonstrates our participation in the mystery of redemption.  One of the Greek words for participation is koinoneo which means

“to have a share of, to share with, take part in” is translated “to be partaker of”
(Vine’s Dictionary of NT Words)

Koinoneo emphasizes the fellowship resulting from shared experiences and beliefs.  Somehow, when we come to the table we do not just observe a memorial of the ministry of Jesus.  We actually participate in the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.  What are these mysteries?  They are summed up by Paul in seven words:

“…Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

This is the theme of everything said and done at the Last Supper.  This meal marked the passing of the Passover and the coming of “The Great Thanksgiving”—the Eucharist.  No longer a celebration of a deliverance from in the distant past, our Fellowship Meal (koinoneo) is a participation in a current deliverance from sin and destruction.

Jesus said we should participate in the bread and the cup as a remembrance of Him.  Our English word, “remembrance” comes from the Greek word, anamnesis which means:

“a remembrance” (“again”) …not “in memory of” but in an affectionate calling of the Person Himself to mind; (b) of the “remembrance” of sins… is not simply an external bringing to “remembrance,” but an awakening of mind. (Vine’s Dictionary)

At the Lord’s Table we do more than remember, we participate.
The Holy Spirit ministers to us as we believe in Jesus’ Body and Blood, His substance and His life.  He told us in John chapter six what it meant to eat and drink of His substance and life—it is to believe—this is the work of God.

John 6:28-29
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

At that Last Passover and First Communion, Jesus spoke of our participation in the New Covenant:

  • We would enjoy the complete forgiveness of sins.
  • We would engage in a life empowered by the Holy Spirit.
  • We would be branches in Him, the True Vine, bearing much fruit.
  • We would be destined for eternal life in His Father’s house.
  • We would have the opportunity to be one with Him as He is one with the Father.

He prayed that we would seize the opportunity.

As we consider the events of the final week of Jesus’ ministry of this earth, we do more than remember, we participate.  We are there

  • at the table,
  • in the Garden,
  • at the arrest,
  • through the night of trials in the courts of men,
  • on the road to Calvary,
  • at the cross,
  • in the storm and darkness,
  • hearing His last words,
  • seeing Him lifeless and still, silent,
  • weeping at the tomb through the night, and
  • rejoicing in the dawn of a new day, a New Covenant and a new life!

The story of Jesus is unique among religious literature.

Scriptures:
Mark 14:22-26

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”  Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”  When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
2 Peter 1:4
… he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
1 Corinthians 10:15-17
Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
Colossians 1:24-27
Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.  I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness- the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.  To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are more than the leader of my religion, the philosopher whose words I try to follow, or my hero from history. You are my Deliverer, my Savior, my best Friend, my King, my Counselor, and my Companion in the way. Today I will listen to Your voice sounding in music of Your creation, in the words of friends, and in the silences in between. I believe in the power of your substance—Your Word, Your presence, Your strength. I believe in the power of Your life—the Holy Spirit, the force of divine creation and restoration of what has been lost. I will carefully place my feet in Your footprints clearly seen in the path of life before me. In Your Matchless Name, Amen.

Song:
Break Thou the Bread of Life
Words: Mary A. Lathbury; Music: William F. Sherwin

1. Break now the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
as once you broke the loaves beside the sea.
Beyond the sacred page I seek you, Lord;
my spirit waits for you, O living Word.

2. Bless your own word of truth, dear Lord, to me,
as when you blessed the bread by Galilee.
Then shall all bondage cease, all fetters fall;
and I shall find my peace, my All in all!

3. You are the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
your holy word the truth that rescues me.
Give me to eat and live with you above;
teach me to love your truth, for you are love.

4. O send your Spirit now, dear Lord, to me,
that he may touch my eyes and make me see.
Show me the truth made plain within your Word,
for in your book revealed I see you, Lord.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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