Different, But The Same
Read Hebrews Chapter 8
Heb 8:8 But God found fault with the people and said : “The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to My covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
Heb 8:12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” 13 By calling this covenant “new,” He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.
A recent Sunday School lesson was on this chapter in Hebrews. The study was designed to help us see the differences and the similarities between the old covenant and the new covenant, between God and His people. Yes, our new covenant is much better than the old, because Jesus Christ became our perfect sacrifice and our great High Priest. That’s a major difference between the two. There had to be a perfect sacrifice – In the OT, the sacrificial lamb had to be perfect (Numbers 6:14). In the NT, Christ became that sinless, perfect lamb, without blemish. His sacrifice was one time for all (Hebrews 7:27-28).
Here is where my thought processes ventured into a different pathway. In the OT sin sacrifices, the offering was often eaten. The Passover sacrifice is one example. In that case, all of the Israelites were commanded to eat of the sacrifice. Another example is found in Leviticus 7:1-10. In that instance, the sacrifice was consumed by the priests and their families. What are we doing when we partake of the Lord’s Supper? We are “eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ.” These thoughts have given me a whole new perspective on Communion.
In a strange way, it seems to me that in both the OT and NT, the eaten sacrifice is symbolic of the forgiveness of their sins. The sacrifice was brought to the altar for atonement of their sins, and then (at times) they ate the sacrifice as a way of accepting God’s forgiveness. As NT Christians, our partaking in the Lord’s Supper symbolizes our acceptance of the ultimate, perfect, sacrifice of Christ for our sins. It does not save us, but it surely gives us a deeper meaning to the act, when we think of the enormous representation of our situation. We are redeemed by the blood and body of Christ. We partake of that sacrifice, showing that we know we have no pathway of salvation except by what Jesus did for us on the cross. Mindboggling!!
What does that mean for you and me, SSA Christians? Well, we are no different than any other Christian. We all come to God the same way. We all partake in Communion for the same reason. But perhaps we can find another slightly different application for our lives. Most of us have a great deal of trouble accepting the fact that God really can and does forgive us for our same-sex sins. We have labored under the enormity of our transgressions to a point where we can wonder if He really, really has forgiven us. We worry needlessly about that, but today’s thoughts may help us to see that more clearly.
As we take communion, as we drink the wine and eat the bread, we can visualize our being cleansed from within by the blood and body of Christ. Just as the Israelites “ate” as a way of accepting forgiveness for their sins, we can “eat” as a way of accepting forgiveness for our same-sex transgressions. We are consuming the sinless blood and body of Christ. As we partake, we can imagine the blood and body of Christ permeating every single part of us; mind, soul, and body. As that happens, we can visualize our forgiveness. Of course, our participation in Communion doesn’t forgive us, but the symbolism is powerful!
We no longer bring our sacrifice to the altar. Nevertheless, we come to the altar for our forgiveness. Our sacrifice is already at the altar, in the Person of Jesus Christ. While at the altar, we “eat” of the perfect sacrifice which has been freely provided to us by our merciful Father. Maybe I’m crazy, but all this makes perfect sense to me.
Prayer: Father, we thank You for loving us so much that You would provide for us the perfect sacrifice in the Person of Your Son. We thank You that we can know, without question, that You accept us as Your children through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. We thank You for the symbolic example of Communion, whereby we can understand more clearly what You have done for us. Give us a more focused dedication and understanding of Communion from now on.