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Core 52 Chapter 35 - Communion

Great Scott!  In one of the most iconic movie lines from the 1980s, Doc Brown, played marvelously by Christopher Lloyd in the hit movie series Back to the Future, takes the words right out of my mouth when I think about the beautiful storytelling and Christ-centered community that comes about when believers gather around the table to share in communion.

Ironically, the storyline from that same movie series parallels the pattern given to us by our Lord regarding what we do to remember Him, and it once again makes me want to proclaim, “Great Scott!” at the beauty, majesty and omnipotence of the Lord God Almighty. In the Back to the Future series, Doc Brown invents a time machine out of a Delorean and plutonium, along with some other essential items.  This leads to a whirlwind tour back into time with dramatic impacts on not only the past, but the present and future as well. The back and forth across the “time-space continuum,” will make your head spin but makes for a great story.

The Lord’s Supper, too, when understood in the context of the entire story of God and his people (AKA the BIBLE), crosses years of history that extend from its establishment in the Upper Room at the Last Supper, all the way back to the days of the Exodus when the Israelites were experiencing the first Passover. It goes forward to the present day as we gather as the body of Christ and even far (maybe not so far?) into the future as we anticipate the wedding feast of Christ and gathering of the saints in Heaven for eternity. Let’s buckle up and climb into our own Delorean time machine to look more intently at God’s beautiful love feast set out for us.

For anyone who has grown up in church, it is easy to recall the purpose and meaning behind our weekly observance of communion.  We can find in the gospels where Jesus instituted this memorial meal (Luke 22:14-19 is one example) as a way to remember what He was about to do. He was creating a new covenant through His own body and blood, and He wanted His followers not to forget His unselfish, humble, incomparable act of love. But if we look into it more, we’ll see this was not the beginning of this memorial feast.  Let’s jump in our time machine and go back to the days of the Exodus!

Specifically, let’s go back to Exodus 6:6-7:
 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.”

This passage is from the Exodus account and is what Jews today will read from and recite during the Passover Feast.  In this initiation of Passover, we see the fulfillment of Christ in four key phrases found here:

“I am the Lord and I will bring you out…” – Jesus proclaimed to be God; He and the Father are One. God’s love for His people is all encompassing and all inclusive.

“I will free you from being slaves…” – He will rescue us from our bondage and free us from our sin, by fulfilling the old covenant and making atonement for sin.

“I will redeem you with an outstretched arm…” – God himself will redeem us through His Son Jesus, fulfilled on the cross, by His blood.

“I will take you as my own…” – United in Christ, we have reunion with God; ultimately fulfilled in our future eternity in Heaven; coincidentally, we see Christ anticipate this eternal reunion when he mentions not drinking from the cup again until this time.

So now we jump ahead in our time machine to the Last Supper, the Passover feast Jesus celebrated with His disciples, and we see more fully how this completed God’s desire for rescue for His people.  In the days of Moses, they were most certainly celebrating rescue, but even more so, God was showing them the future deliverance not from their physical burdens and struggles, but their spiritual slavery from sin.

Hold on tight as we go “back to the future!” The eternal aspect of the Lord’s Supper is seen in Revelation 19 and 21 with the references to the wedding feast of the Lamb and our residence in Heaven.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”  (Revelation 21:3)

Sounds a lot like the promise of God we found waaaaay back in Exodus 6:7, right? God takes us as His own people, and we will dwell with Him forever!

All made possible through Christ!

Now let’s jump in our Delorean one last time and come back to today….
There on the table before you is communion. In today’s current circumstances, it has taken on many forms – crackers, pita bread or even a broken loaf; along with grape juice, kool-aid or some other liquid variant. It is laid out before you as you and your faith community gather together to share in this memorial feast. We remember the past and God’s promises to His people Israel; we anticipate the future and the wedding feast of the Lamb; and we mediate on today, both inwardly at our own lives and outwardly with our faith community, as we unite in our remembrance of Christ on the cross.

The entire gospel story that encapsulates the entire history – past, present and future – of God and His love for His people – all in a piece of bread and a cup of juice. Great Scott!! What amazing love the Father has for us.

- Pete Ramsey