Monday, March 21, 2011

Life Digestible in the Blogosphere and the Soul

At the prompting of a friend, I am going to fire this blog up again and see where it takes us. I’m going to take an approach, however, that is less exhausting to myself and my reader. I’m going to stop writing theological treatises and try to just put my thoughts out there as they come to me, in brief, often undeveloped bits—the kind of stuff that is more appropriately digestible in the blogosphere.

The thought occurs to me that something very particular is being communicated to the people of God when in the New Covenant Passover celebration we eat not just the flesh of the Lamb of God but we also receive His blood as well. This is highly significant in that in Old Covenant sacrifice, the blood of the sacrifices was off limits to the people bringing their sacrifices. The blood belonged to the Lord alone, because “the life is in the blood.” The Lord, as the Giver of life, alone had a right to the substance that contained the life force. If this was so with the blood of the animals of Old Testament sacrifice, how much more should the blood of God’s very Son belong solely to Him?

The cross of Christ turns this logic entirely on its head. The Life of God is given for our life. In the Lord’s Supper, we receive the sign and seal of this blood poured out for us. This is the obvious signification, but we need to go further. Of course, in the Old Testament sacrifices, the blood of the animals was given for the life of the people as well, as a type of the great sacrifice God-in-the-flesh would later make for His people. Yet, though the blood of animals was given for them, it was not theirs. This is not so with the blood of Christ. It belongs to us as our spiritual drink. This is a clear example of how the grace given us in the New Covenant is “further up and further in” than what the people of God received in the Old Covenant. In Christ’s shed blood now offered to us to consume, we make the very Life of God our life. The very Life of God runs through our veins because of the Incarnation and the cross, and He signifies and delivers this Life really and truly to us in the cup of the Lord. The fancy theological word for having the very Life of God flowing through our veins is deification. We are caught up in a unique way in the fellowship of the Trinity through Jesus and His blood. The Church Father Athanasius said, “God became man so that man might become God.” We share in the divine nature. We are being made gods.

The deification angle of the cross and the Eucharist, of course, is suggestive of teaching about justification and sanctification. That we receive the blood of Christ to consume in a way the people of God in the Old Covenant did not have the blood of their sacrifices to consume implies more than just blood covering and imputation for us.[1] God is indwelling us, filling us up with Himself that we might be transformed and conformed into His image. His blood not only propitiates God’s wrath for our sin and gives us a standing of purity and righteousness before Him, but it really takes away our sins.

[1] Obviously the blood of animals is life with a lowercase “L” but Christ’s blood is LIFE, so the syllogism might be a bit strained.

1 comment:

Anne said...

Um, wow. "The very life of God flows through my veins..."

I was thinking only recently about Lucy and the Magician's Book, the part when she came across the spell "for the refreshment of the spirit."

I'm sure you know how it goes, but to sum up: After reading it once through, she's so invigorated that she turns the pages back to re-read it only to discover that the spell is used up. Distressed, she asks Aslan if she will never have the spell for refreshment again. And he says, "I will tell it to you for years and years."

Thanks for the bit of refreshment, it was a small yet needed moment.