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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : CHAPTER 14:22-25 BREAD AND WINE cont.

The Gospel Of St Mark by G. A. Chadwick

CHAPTER 14:22-25 BREAD AND WINE cont.

(4) We have yet to ask the great question, what is the specific blessing expressed by the elements, and therefore surely given to the faithful by the sacrament. Too many are content to think vaguely of Divine help, given us for the merit of the death of Christ. But bread and wine do not express an indefinite Divine help, they express the body and blood of Christ, they have to do with His Humanity. We must beware, indeed, of limiting the notion overmuch. At the Supper He said not |My flesh,| but |My body,| which is plainly a more comprehensive term. And in the discourse when He said |My Flesh is meat indeed,| He also said |I am the bread of life . . . He that eateth Me, the same shall live by Me.| And we may not so carnalize the Body as to exclude the Person, who bestows Himself. Yet is all the language so constructed as to force the conviction upon us that His body and blood, His Humanity, is the special gift of the Lord's Supper. As man He redeemed us, and as man He imparts Himself to man.

Thus we are led up to the sublime conception of a new human force working in humanity. As truly as the life of our parents is in our veins, and the corruption which they inherited from Adam is passed on to us, so truly there is abroad in the world another influence, stronger to elevate than the infection of the fall is to degrade; and the heart of the Church is propelling to its utmost extremities the pure life of the Second Adam, the Second Man, the new Father of the race. As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive; and we who bear now the image of our earthy progenitor shall hereafter bear the image of the heavenly. Meanwhile, even as the waste and dead tissues of our bodily frame are replaced by new material from every meal, so does He, the living Bread, impart not only aid from heaven, but nourishment, strength to our poor human nature, so weary and exhausted, and renovation to what is sinful and decayed. How well does such a doctrine of the sacrament harmonize with the declarations of St. Paul: |I live, and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me.| |The Head, from whom all the body being supplied and knit together through the joints and bands, increaseth with the increase of God| (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 2:19).

(5) In the brief narrative of St. Mark, there are a few minor points of interest.

Fasting communions may possibly be an expression of reverence only. The moment they are pressed further, or urged as a duty, they are strangely confronted by the words, |While they were eating, Jesus took bread.|

The assertion that |they all drank,| follows from the express commandment recorded elsewhere. And while we remember that the first communicants were not laymen, yet the emphatic insistence upon this detail, and with reference only to the cup, is entirely at variance with the Roman notion of the completeness of a communion in one kind.

It is most instructive also to observe how the far-reaching expectation of our Lord looks beyond the Eleven, and beyond His infant Church, forward to the great multitude which no man can number, and speaks of the shedding of His blood |for many.| He, who is to see of the travail of His soul and to be satisfied, has already spoken of a great supper when the house of God shall be filled. And now He will no more drink of the fruit of the vine until that great day when the marriage of the Lamb having come and His Bride having made herself ready, He shall drink it new in the consummated kingdom of God.

With the announcement of that kingdom He began His gospel: how could the mention of it be omitted from the great gospel of the Eucharist? or how could the Giver of the earthly feast be silent concerning the banquet yet to come?

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