Formations lesson for March 30: Communion and Betrayal
March 13 2003 by David Stratton , Mark 14:12-25

Formations lesson for March 30: Communion and Betrayal | Friday, March 14, 2003

Friday, March 14, 2003

Formations lesson for March 30: Communion and Betrayal

By David Stratton Mark 14:12-25

Who needs the rituals of our religion? More specifically, who needs the Lord's Supper?

When I was growing up communion was something tacked on to the end of a worship service once per quarter. There was little attempt to bring meaning to those little cups of juice and little pieces of bread.

Yet the New Testament teaches us that Jesus saw something more in religious rituals, particularly in the Lord's Supper. In Mark 14:12-25 we read of a troubled Jesus. He was about to be betrayed by one of His closest followers and He knew it. He also knew that He was about to face the horror of the cross.

Where did Jesus find meaning in such a dark time? Through participating in a religious ritual with his friends.

Jesus turns to a ritual The passage begins with Jesus and the disciples making preparations for the Jewish ritual of Passover, a feast commemorating God's miraculous deliverance of the Jews from their bondage in Egypt. As the group participated in the traditional Passover meal Jesus opened up, revealing the disturbing news that one of the disciples would betray Him. In this difficult moment the disciples were distressed as a troubled Jesus revealed that His betrayer would have been better off not to have been born

At the end of the passage Jesus took the initiative to translate the customary Jewish ritual to His personal life. He made a connection between an observance of the ancient religious practice and the difficult hour of betrayal and suffering He faced. In the bread He saw His body that was about to be sacrificed for many. In the cup He saw His blood that was about to be spilled for many. Finally He looked with hope to the time when He and His followers would again drink together in the kingdom of God.

In a dark hour Jesus found meaning through an ancient religious ritual.

Our turning to rituals Today many Christians often dismiss our religious rituals as empty - something that we can take or leave and still have a healthy walk of faith. This is not the example of Jesus. The Gospel accounts reveal Him regularly participating in religious rituals.

Jesus went to the synagogue consistently and He participated in the other religious observances of Judaism. Furthermore, He commanded His followers to engage in the rituals of the Lord's Supper and baptism. Religious rituals were important to Jesus.

In our passage a troubling situation was not an excuse to avoid the ritual. On the contrary, Jesus paused in a difficult time and participated in an established religious ritual with His friends. The note of hope at the end of the passage indicates that this step strengthened Him for the trials ahead.

How did Jesus find meaning through a ritual while in such distress? Notice that He did not passively go through the motions, rather, He got involved. In His troubled state He did not leave the preparations to someone else, He helped with them. He did not divorce the ritual from "real life." Instead He seized the occasion of the ritual as an opportunity to open up and share a matter that distressed Him. Most significantly He took the initiative to apply the elements of the ritual to His personal life.

"All the church had to offer me was a list of rules and a bunch of meaningless rituals." These are the words of a man who left the institutional Christian church. He eventually found a way back to meaningful church involvement, rituals and all. Like him, many Christians struggle at times to find significance in our rituals.

Let us learn from the example of Jesus. Rather than abandoning our rituals in difficult times, let us get involved in them. Rather than divorcing our rituals from "real life," let us make them an integral part of facing our trials. Rather than passively going through the motions, let us take the initiative to apply the elements of our rituals to our personal lives.

If we follow this example of our Lord, then we, like Him, will be strengthened for our next steps through meaningful participation in our rituals.

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3/13/2003 11:00:00 PM by David Stratton , Mark 14:12-25 | with 0 comments
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