With that as introduction, (See Table Manners Part 1) I have some recently digested revelation bubbling up from within, and perhaps this might be the time and place to get it in writing. But first, a little more about manners.
When our children were young, I taught them the following table manners: “When you sit down to eat, check to see how many are at the table, then check to see how much food is available to eat, and don’t take more than your share. If you do, someone will go hungry.”
The Table of the Lord is much the same. Jesus said, ‘My meat is to do the the will of Him who sent me.’ At least, some of the content of the Father’s will was for Jesus to share the words that His Father had given Him. And so it is for us.
Noting the more recently mentioned table manner: ‘don’t talk with your mouth full,’ I would like to share this recent revelation as it pertains to the Lord’s Supper. I trust that this is a safe place for what is coming. Because where the dry bones of Ezekiel are concerned, the first sign of life was the bones came into right relationship with one another, Ezekiel 37:7.
Right relationship with one another is what The Church is all about. That said, I would like to discuss the parable which best prefigures the relationship between The Church and Her Lord. I call this the sexual parable, and I believe it is the most powerful and fully loaded parable that God has included in both the “created things” (Romans 1:20) and His Word.
We have been created male and female in the image of something otherwise invisible about God. (If I need to support what I am saying with Biblical references, I am willing to do so, but for the present would rather leave that for later, if necessary.)
In the beginning, everything was “very good.” It was very good, that is, until the nature of the work required human reproduction, and then suddenly, something was “not good.” For the sake of the work of reproduction, the woman was taken out of the man. She was a “help meet“ for reproduction. Now please keep in mind that we are talking about a picture, or image, of a “great mystery,” namely “Christ and the Church,” Ephesians 5:31, 32. One of our great difficulties with this word picture/parable/image, is that we tend to be more religious than God, so we have a difficult time opening the package of our own sexuality, there to discover, “Christ and the Church.” In short, we are hung up on the plumbing.
(I really hope we can get beyond this plumbing, to The Truth it presents!)
The irreducible minimum meaning of ‘male and female’ is relationship. Human flesh, and Divine Spirit have this much in common; the byproduct of relationship is reproduction.
I would like to see if we can work our way backward from the ‘new birth’…
Depending on where we look in the Scripture, we are either “born from above,” still in “labor pains,” going through a kind of spiritual gestation, conceived of an “incorruptible seed,” “adopted,” “drawn by the Father,” and I believe we could find many more ways of describing where we have been, and might still be, in the whole reproductive process. (And that’s not counting the discussion of “menstruous rags,” and spiritual “circumcision.”)
All of these word pictures have their spiritual counterpart, except that we have to get past the plumbing to really explore them.
There is a mystery to the truth that we are, at once, born from above, and yet at the same time waiting for the adoption as sons, namely the redemption of our bodies. In short – very short – it is finished, and yet it is not finished. And so we groan inwardly… waiting … seemingly caught up in a process of conception. In the flesh, we are conceived in a moment with all the DNA complete, but a birth in the Spirit is a different matter.
First of all, the seed by which we are born from above is a Word. And that Word, when in the flesh, called its words “Spirit.” “My words are Spirit,” Jesus said, John 6:63. In a very important sense then, our ears have become organs – even female organs of reproduction.
Now please allow me to press this just a little further. Peter tells us, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:4. Note how it says, we have become partakers of “the divine nature.” In other words, with the new birth comes a new nature, even a divine one. The DNA of this divine nature is in the ‘Word,’ or ‘Seed’ (Sperma in the original) of God. It is in this context, that the ‘Seed’ imparts to us these “exceeding great and precious promises.”
Now here is a complication, not well pictured in human reproduction. In spiritual reproduction, the DNA is imparted over time by promise, and promises. This to say, we don’t get it all in a moment, but the nature of God continues to be imparted to us over time as we actively partake of His promises. Our fertility consists of “trusting He is faithful that promised,” Hebrews 10:23.
Among other things, He promised that we were, or would be, “more than conquerors in Him who loved us.” But for that to become part of who we are, we must first embrace the process that, “for His sake we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” It is through this process that we, by the Spirit, become and receive what we have believed God for.
Now baptism acts out, or portrays, this invisible truth of our passage from one creation to another in the new birth. And the Lord’s Supper continues to portray this process.
About that, Jesus said that in the Last Supper, (the one in which we first saw the Passover fulfilled in Him) there was a cup that was a “new Covenant in His blood.” This is nothing less than a wedding cup, for a marriage covenant. He left it for us as a remembrance, but more than a remembrance, He left it for us as “food indeed, and drink indeed.” (I’m reminded that all food is ‘sacrificial life.’)
Paul, however, goes on to explain that if we eat and drink without discerning the Lord’s Body, it is not the Lord’s Supper. It becomes our own supper, and results in judgment, 1 Corinthians 11:17-33.
This is the revelation I received about the matter. Paul knew that it was their own supper, because their careless body language with one another spoke very clearly that they did not see Christ in each other. They were failing to discern the Body of Christ. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” but sometimes the earthen exterior is so offensive that we fail to discern the treasure within others — the Christ within. The Lord draws us into relationship with those that we might not have chosen in the flesh. If beyond the initial offense we can discover inside a treasure by faith — we have discerned the more abounding grace of the very great and precious promise made to that other member of the Body of Christ. They themselves are a revelation of the DNA of God. As we discern and embrace them, we also are impregnated, or further impregnated, with the very nature of God. When this happens, (and I should add this ought to be the “normal Christian Lord’s Supper,”) our discernment will become for us a female organ of reproduction. The Lord’s supper, indeed, becomes food for us, and drink for us. We are what we eat. Out of this transaction, and out of this participation in the wedding cup of the Lord, a oneness grows by which even the world can discern that Christ is in our midst. All of this leads to a growth of our our inward parts, and an increase of His Body, The Church.
To the extent that we are already born from above, it is clear that The Wedding Supper of the Lamb has already taken place, and is taking place, else-wise we are illegitimate children. Paul tells us that we have a mother, the new and free Jerusalem that comes down from God, “…prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”
All this to say, that we are called into an ongoing reproductive intimacy; not only that the world might be saved, but to be formed into the reality which is ours in Christ. Jesus Christ is Lord of all. Whatever the final form of the wedding feast might be, there is a wedding that is already ours in Him, and each one of us is a very important part of this feast.
Picture credit Abigail Miller, Unsplash