The day we began our ministry in the home church that meets at our place, we laid the foundation of all that would be built in our fellowship. God is not obsessed with sin and our sinning. He is life and life is His passion. A life time celebrating the Lord’s Table in an institutional setting could have taught me that the cross and the blood were all about release from guilt and the receiving of forgiveness. This is part of it but not the major part. The cross leads the way to life – the life of our Father as ours. Christ’s life for us and in us. The life of Holy Spirit igniting us with eyes that see and ears that hear. This is the full meaning of the Lord’s Table and the eating of the Bread of Life.
‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ John 10.10 NIV. Our unadulterated Jesus life imparts this limited life. Revisionist gospels leach out this life and align us with theft.
FULLNESS AND LIGHT
Some cultures do not link the Lord’s Table with the testimony of John. Steeped in legalism they see every event through the lens of the law. As a result the atonement comes to be seen as a forensic acquittal rather than the holistic fullness of Christ our life - transfusing our being with the presence of God. There’s no need for woe over the horror of the cross. Jesus regarded it as the joy that was set before Him – the drawing of all of us into His life and the means of the trinity entering our lives. The Lord’s Table is the picture of the new covenant worked out in all of us – from His body to ours literally since in the spirit He becomes us. This is the meaning of ingesting the bread and the wine. Eating Jesus who manifests as each of us and as the body of Christ.
Jesus is the food that sustains our everyday life with the anointing of spirit and life. He does not enter you and be this life to you because you have done something to deserve it. He enters because you are you and deeply loved by Father, son and Holy Spirit and you have invited Him. The difference between folks who live in law/religion and those who live in the Spirit is sometimes observable. The former have a dullness of spirit and an imperviousness to truth that is invisible to them and not always to others. Those who live in the Spirit unsurprisingly have a freshness of spirit and newness of outlook that transcends their sometimes ageing flesh and less than positive circumstances. The Son of Man will give us this spirit-life when we settle for living totally from Him and cease trying to live from ‘His Stuff.’
FOOD THAT ENDURES
“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval’ John 6.26 NIV.This scripture is about living from the source of life instead of attempting to create life by our actions and motions. But wait, there’s more.
‘Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you’ John 6.53 NIV. Here the topic is our life in the Spirit; the entrance of the Spirit of Christ into our being as our sustenance. Here to be manifest in our spirit, soul and body as the infinite and eternal life that is the life of God expressed through Mary, Jane and Bob in the course of their everyday life.
FOOD THAT LASTS
The Lord’s Table, often called the Lord’s Supper is a banquet of life that never ends. If I have a savoury for breakfast like scrambled egg, tomato and toast I can last until lunch time without the need to snack. If I have something sugary, not so much. If we eat Jesus our spiritual inner man or woman is forever satisfied. This is because Christ in us is life without limit. Jesus said, ‘Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you.’ Turning this around it means that when we eat Christ, invite Him to enter our being and be our life, we have life without limit. This is spirit of life that distinguishes religion from the Kingdom of God.
We are speaking of Christ’s life as incarnation and our fellowship with God as their indwelling of us. All of this has been initiated by Christ whose life is ours and whose fellowship with Father and Holy Spirit are ours. Jesus is our judge saviour and grace. His life in us reveals our potential in Him. There is no condemnation here. Just a revelation of who He is and who we really are in Him. He has saved us from our sins and from the separation to which we are inclined. In Him we belong. Always. He is our grace in person because we are graced with His forgiveness and graced with His life and the presence of Father and Holy Spirit. There is huge generosity in Jesus. Quite the opposite of mean versions of the gospel that would seek to impose themselves on Believers.
Jesus gently exposes our lack of likeness to Himself and provides Himself as the solution to our deficit. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Just grace and life.
On this theme Christian Kettler and others write, ‘Christian views of atonement readily speak of the vicarious death of Christ, and rightly so. In recent years, however, Thomas F. Torrance, James B. Torrance, and others have spoken of the importance of not just limiting the vicarious work of Christ to his death. No, from baptism to resurrection Christ lived a life FOR US IN THE ENTIRETY OF OUR HUMANITY. His vicarious work is a vicarious humanity lived for us and in our place, judging our attempts at religiosity and embracing us with a breadth and depth of love at the ontological level [in our deepest being]. In this case, there is no “God of the gaps,” but a God in the depths of our humanity, judging and affirming.’ (1)
(1) Kettler, Christian D The Breadth and Depth of the Atonement: The Vicarious Humanity of Christ in the Church, the World, and the Self: Essays, 1990–2015 (p. 86). Pickwick Publications, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.