During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God. [Acts 1:3 (NLT)]
By now, the visiting family has returned home; the jelly beans, Peeps, and chocolate eggs have been eaten; the Easter lily has wilted; the baskets and bunny décor are back in their boxes; and the hardboiled eggs are long gone. While Easter has been put away for another year, its message didn’t end with the resurrection.
The resurrection miracle continued for the next forty days during which Jesus was seen, not just by the disciples, but by hundreds of people. Able to appear in a locked room, the resurrected Jesus seemed less limited by time and space than when He was a man. Although Scripture tells us that He wore the scars of His crucifixion, He talked, walked, ate, drank, and could be touched just like anyone who hadn’t endured crucifixion, death, and burial. Can you imagine what it was like for those fortunate enough to spend time in the presence of the resurrected Jesus? No wonder their faith was so strong that they were willing to endure terrible persecution and horrific torture rather than deny their Lord.
While we can only imagine what it was like when people were in the presence of the risen Christ 2,000 years ago, we can come close to that experience when we share in the Lord’s Supper. Most Communion liturgies include Jesus’ words, “Do this in remembrance of me,” and, upon hearing those words, we recall that last supper in the upper room and Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. Nevertheless, I think we do the Eucharist a disservice when we think of it as little more than a rite to remember an event long past.
Although most Christians believe that Jesus is present in some way during the Eucharist, there is serious disagreement about how and in what form His presence takes; theologians have argued this point of contention for centuries and will continue to do so until the end of time. Nevertheless, while they disagree on things like transubstantiation and consubstantiation, they do agree that in some mysterious way the Lord is present when we eat the bread, drink the wine, and remember His death and resurrection. About this conundrum John Calvin wrote, “It is a mystery too sublime for me to be able to express, or even to comprehend; and to be still more explicit, I would rather experience it, than understand it.” C.S. Lewis wisely added, “The command after all, was ‘Take and eat,’ not take and understand.”
One day, we will dine with Jesus in His kingdom but, until then, when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we are as close to touching the body of the resurrected Jesus as we will be here on earth. When we eat that bread and drink that wine or juice, it’s almost like breaking bread with Jesus in Emmaus, being with the disciples in that locked room Easter morning, or having breakfast with Him beside the Sea of Galilee.
In actuality, the miracle of Jesus’ resurrected presence didn’t end when He ascended into heaven forty days after Easter. In some inexplicable way, He’s with us every time we celebrate the Eucharist.
We should come to the Lord’s table with the confident expectation of meeting Christ there, of receiving there a blessing. [Rev. Chas. A. Savage]
And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. [Matthew 28:20 (NLT)]
Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. [Revelation 3:20 (NLT)]
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