Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | July 11, 2008

Eucharist and Salvation

Communion points us to the redemption of humanity in the incarnation of the Son.

By his words at the last supper (Mark 14:22-25) Jesus points us to the bread and wine as signs of his humanity and of the Kingdom which he embodies. When we see the bread and the wine we are therefore called to think of the Son of God becoming flesh and blood and how, by doing so, he has transferred humanity from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light (Rom. 5:18, Col. 1:13). To paraphrase the Church Fathers, by entering into our human kingdom he has taken us into his Divine Kingdom.

So, what we are seeing in the communion table is not just a witness of the fact that the Son has become incarnate (though we do see that). Nor is it only a witness of how he has united himself to us who believe (though we do see that as well).

Rather, when we look at the thanksgiving meal of the Church (the eucharist) we are called to see the Son in humanity, in our humanity, and in the humanity of the entire human race for whom he has become the second Adam. This is what we are giving thanks for. That the second Adam’s faithfulness to the Father has resulted in the reversal of the first Adam’s fall and humanity’s salvation from captivity to sin and death (Rom 5:12-19; Heb. 2:14-15).

This is how John Koenig puts it in his book The Feast of the World’s Redemption:

The presence of Jesus and the promise of God for all humanity belong together – always. But it is the last supper, coming to mind repeatedly in the communal meals of the earliest believers, that most powerfully and consistently presents this redemptive connection. (p. 44)

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Responses

  1. “Connection” (as in “redemptive connection”) is such a powerful and “pregnant” word here isn’t it?

    The Supper is so much more than a memorial (though it is that) – it is real *participation* (communion) in the enduring *connection* that Jesus has with all humanity and with God.

    Thus it’s a family Supper – the family of man, connected together in and with God as his dear children. Glory!

    It is in this sense that I view the supper as an invitation to believe (and thus to receive), not merely as a celebration/re-confirming of pre-existing belief (which it is as well).

  2. Thanks for the comments, Ted, very insightful as usual – and I agree, the communion table seems to me to be an excellent means of response to the gospel, where we are enabled to express our belief in the truth about ourselves by participating in the table.


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