The Substance of Addresses Given by Two Members of the Oxford Mission Brotherhood of the Epiphany, at the Students Conference of the Syrian Christian Church, Held at Kottayam, May 1st--5th, 1916
Chapter III. The Eucharist--The Presentation of Christ to God
WE have seen that the Bible teaches us that man does not devise a way of worshipping God acceptably, but that God has given him a "pattern." All that was foreshadowed in the revelation to Moses has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He is our Sacrifice. He used sacrificial language about Himself (St. Matthew xx. 28; St. Mark x. 45). We can trace His course step by step in the Gospels as Victim until on Calvary all is finished. Then the cloud received Him out of our sight as the veil received the High Priest out of the sight of Israel. Behind that veil, out of the sight of our physical eyes, what is He doing? He is reigning as King; He is teaching as Prophet through the Holy Spirit; but He is doing something else. What was the Levitical High Priest doing out of sight within the veil? Every little Hebrew child knew the answer;--He was presenting the sacrifice that had been prepared. What is Christ doing? He is presenting the sacrifice that is for ever, the sacrifice which is Himself, alive out of death.
At once the question arises: Have we His members any part in the presentation of this sacrifice? Do we look on, peeping when we can by faith through the door that is opened in heaven, or do we actually share in the heavenly worship and partake of the heavenly food? What comes between the tabernacle [38/39] worship and the worship of the beatific vision? Moses, we read, was taken up into the Mount. The Apostles were taken into the Upper Room. Moses was given an outline, a promise of the Thing. The Apostles were given the Verity of the Thing. Moses was given signs of the sacrifice, and of the food of the sacrifice, the Apostles were given the Sacrifice and the Sacrament.
Let us recall the great scene as it was revealed to St. Paul. We remember how emphatically he declared that the Gospel which he preached was not taught him by man. "Neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians i. 12). After his conversion he did not confer with flesh and blood; he did not seek instruction from the Apostles who were Apostles before him. He conferred with Jesus Christ whom he had seen in the way; he sought instruction in the solitude of the desert alone with his Master (Galatians I. 16-17). It is most important to note this, for, to the Corinthians, St. Paul says that one of the all-important verities Christ revealed to him was the institution of the Eucharist and the nature of the Gift that was given in it. "I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you" (I Corinthians xi. 23). Could any consideration help us to realize the infinite significance of the Eucharist more than the fact that our Lord made a special revelation of it to that one of the Apostles who was not present in the Upper Chamber in the night in which He was betrayed?
The account which St. Paul says that he received of the Lord is as follows:--
"The Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He brake it and said: This is My Body, which is for you: this do in remembrance [40/41] of Me. In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying: This cup is the new covenant in My Blood: this do, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me" (I Corinthians xi. 23-25).
It is to be noticed how frequently St. Paul speaks of Christ as Lord in this chapter. It is probable that he desires to emphasize His supreme authority (St. Matthew xxviii. 18). He who was the Lord of the old Dispensation is Lord also of the new. "The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath" (St. Mark ii. 28). It is He who has authority to change. It is He who can substitute the verity for the shadow. So as it was the Lord who instituted the sacrifices of the old Covenant, so it is the Lord who institutes sacrifice of the new.
In the institution almost every word is suggestive of sacrificial ideas, and, indeed, could hardly suggest other ideas to a Jew. Let us take the words "Covenant," "Memorial" (remembrance) from this account, and the word "Outpoured" from the ac counts of St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. Luke. A covenant was necessarily deeply associated with sacrifice and a sacrificial meal (Exodus xxiv. i-ii). "Behold," said Moses, "the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you." The culmination of the sacrifice was: "They saw God and did eat and drink." For the Lord to speak of "the new covenant in My blood" must have conveyed to the Apostles the meaning that they were given blood to offer before God. The word "Memorial" puts this conclusion beyond doubt. We read in the Old Testament: "Your burnt offerings and the sacrifices of your peace offerings shall be to you for a memorial before your God" (Numbers x. 10). (See also Leviticus xxiv. 7.) The phrase is the same as that used in the institution of the Eucharist. As the [41/42] burnt offerings and the peace offerings were for a memorial before God, so were to be the body and blood of Christ. The word "Outpoured" at once suggests the outpouring of the blood of the slain victim at the base of the altar (Exodus xxix. 12; Leviticus iv. 7). With every burnt offering there was also a meat and drink offering, and the drink offering was poured out before the Lord. "In the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the Lord for a drink offering" (Numbers xxviii. 7). When our Lord put the cup into the hands of the Apostles and said that it was His blood poured out, they must have understood that He was giving them something for a sacrificial offering as well as for a sacrificial feast. Even the word "do" may signify "offer" when the context implies a sacrificial meaning. It is, indeed, the commonest of words meaning to do an action, but it is used also in a sacrificial sense. In our English versions of the Old Testament the Hebrew original is translated "offer" when it is connected with what is obviously sacrifice. "The ewe lamb thou shalt offer (in Greek and Hebrew 'do') in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer (do) in the evening" (Exodus xxix. 39). Here, then, we have the institution of the worship of the new covenant, and that worship is sacrificial. It is the offering of a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Father. The offering of the body and blood of Christ. Our Lord has carried His humanity within the veil there to present it to the Father, and He gives it now to us to .present it to the Father with Him.
Such is the divinely revealed system of worship in the Dispensation of the Incarnation and the Holy Spirit. Around the words and actions of the institution have grown all the great liturgies of the Church on earth. Such has been from the beginning the great central act of worship whereby the Church on earth [42/43] has united with the High Priest in heaven in presenting to the Father the "one full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world." The writer to the Hebrews seeing himself cut off from the Temple altar cries with joy: "We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle" (Hebrews xiii. 10). It is the altar of which every altar on earth is but the symbol. There are not many sacrifices--there is but one. We on earth handle the body and the blood, lifting it with Christ before the Father. He leads our worship, for earth in the Eucharist is lifted up to Heaven.
But there follows another truth:--we cannot be united with Christ in offering the holy sacrifice unless we have identified ourselves with Him. We must bring our bodies to be offered with His body; we must bring our souls to be offered with His soul; we must bring our spirits to be offered with His spirit. In other words, we cannot be apart from the sacrifice. We ourselves are to be in the sacrifice. So we are to be constantly winning our bodies in sanctification and honour (I Thessalonians iv. 4), continually winning our souls and spirits in patience (St. Luke xxi. 19). In penitence and confession we identify ourselves with His death; in the offering of the sacrifice and our communion we identify ourselves with His life.
"Can two walk together except they be agreed?" asked the Prophet of old. Can two be offered together except they be agreed? Can a body stained with impurity be put with Christ's body? Can a soul stained with pride and selfishness be put with Christ's soul? We must remember that Christ is not offered instead of us but for us, and He cannot be offered for us unless He is in us and we in Him.