Daily Devotion for April 15, 2014
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
To Spend this Day in Thankful Reverence
Holy Father, Holy God, I come before you today in reverence and awe; I am filled with humility in the face of your greatness, your majesty, your holiness, and your power. And to acknowledge my sinfulness in the face of your pure and holy presence fills me with fear. Yet I pray boldly, for you have called me and adopted me as your rightful heir, through the sacrifice of your Son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I give you thanks for your mercy with every ounce of my being, and pray that your Holy Spirit might be with me, that I might do your will in every thought and action this day; and that the work of my hands and the words of my tongue might seek your glory, and not my own.
And I promise, with your help and grace, to be fearless in the world; for if you are with me, who can be against me? Let me not hesitate to call upon you, for your power and love will see me through anything this world can bring against me. All thanks and praise be to you, almighty God.
In the name of Christ, I pray,
[I am filled with humility.]
Prayer of Thanks for This Life
O God in heaven, I was born a weak, defenseless child, but your angel spread his wings over my cradle to defend me. From birth until now your love has illumined my path and has wondrously guided me towards the light of eternity; from birth until now the generous gifts of your providence have been marvelously showered upon me. I give you thanks for every step of my life's journey, together with all who have come to know you, who call upon your name. All glory be to you, O God, from age to age,
A Prayer for Lent
Father in Heaven, the light of your truth bestows sight to the darkness of sinful eyes. May this season of repentance bring me the blessing of Your forgiveness and the gift of Your light. Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Let me not forget you as I go forth into the world this day, blessed Lord; may my every word be a prayer, and my every act be testimony to your love and truth, and my I know your presence every second of this day.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
At the heart of Galatians 2 is not an abstract individualized salvation, but a common meal. Paul does not want the Galatians to wait until they have agreed on all doctrinal arguments before they can sit down and eat together. Not to eat together is already to get the answer wrong. The whole point of his argument is that all those who belong to Christ belong at the same table with one another.
~ N. T. Wright
Matthew 26:26-29 (ESV)
Institution of the Lord's Supper
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.”
Notes on the Scripture
The bread is unleavened bread, for Jews were not allowed to eat leavened bread at Passover. They could not have such bread or even a particle of leaven in the house, for leaven was generally a symbol of earthly wisdom, while bread without leaven was reminiscent of manna, that is, the food of God with no human component. It was thus symbolic of the unadulterated word of God. Remember Christ's words in Matthew 16:6: “Jesus said to them, ‘Watch and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’”
Leavening or yeast is not evil; in the Bible, holy wisdom is likened to leaven at times. (E.g. Matthew 13:33.) But the Feast of Passover celebrated a more primal relationship between man and God, reminding Jews of their roots in the exodus, a time when all teaching came directly from the mouth of Yahweh.
The body of Christ represented by the bread is thus pure God, untainted by the leaven of human wisdom. Like the Passover lamb that was sacrificed and eaten at the meal, it is without blemish. The bread, then, was given to us by Jesus to be eaten as the symbol of memory and atonement for the new covenant. He is the “Lamb of God”, the terminal sacrifice under the law of Moses. We can conceive that the Lord's Supper is the replacement for Passover. The Lord's Supper becomes the Passover feast of the new covenant, just as purity of heart by repentance replaces physical circumcision as the sign of belonging to the covenant.
The second component of Hebrew sacrifice was blood. It has often been said that God requires blood as the penalty of sin, and it is a fair characterization of the Old Testament. (E.g. Lev. 17:11) Hebrews rituals often required the blood of an unblemished animal to be sprinkled on the altar by a priest, such as Passover, Yom Kippur, and the birth of a first son. (As to this last, see Luke 2:22-24.)
Christ's blood was a final sacrifice, eliminating the need for further compliance with the rituals of the old covenant. Paul fleshes this out at length in Hebrews, especially Hebrews 10, which can be summarized by Heb. 10:12, “He . . . offered one sacrifice for sins for all time.” We no longer make sacrifice for our sins; rather, we commemorate the final sacrifice by drinking wine (or grape juice).
Christ uses the expression “the fruit of the vine” not as a simple figure of speech, for the grapevine and its fruit is one of his primary metaphors. We find the most complete exposition in John 15, doubly appropriate to today's passage from Matthew, because it was a discourse to the apostles during the night of the Last Supper. Note verse 8: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)
So his reference to not drinking the fruit of this vine “until I drink it new with you” has a specific meaning. It looks ahead to the second coming, when we will be judged by our fruits, and if we have been fruitful — if we have lived in Christ and followed his commandments (John 15:10) — the second coming will be a joyous reunion with Christ where our faith and deeds will find eternal reward.