While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take and eat. This is my body.” He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from this, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many so that their sins may be forgiven. I tell you, I won’t drink wine again until that day when I drink it in a new way with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Then, after singing songs of praise, they went to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:26-30, Common English Bible).
There were a lot of things special about Jesus. Toward the top of the list (but by no means the top) was (or should I say is) his ability to take something very ordinary and do something extraordinary with it. He took an ordinary woman who placed two pennies in the offering and turned it into an extraordinary story about generosity. He took a night in a boat on the rough sea and turned it into an extraordinary experience of him walking on water followed by Peter walking on the water. A dramatic example of living faith. He took five loaves of bread and two fish, pretty ordinary things in Jewish life and did the extraordinary by feeding over 5000 people and having more leftover than what he started with. He took something as ordinary as mud and did the extraordinary by restoring a man’s sight. The list of extraordinary things that Jesus did from ordinary things could get pretty long pretty fast and that is just the things we know from reading the Bible.
And, there is today’s lesson. The meal the disciples shared that night with Jesus was anything but ordinary. It was the Passover meal. Passover is the highest of Holy days for Jews. It commemorates the last of the plagues God set upon Egypt in order to have Pharoah release the Hebrew slaves. It is not an ordinary day and it is not an ordinary meal.
But, just because the day or the meal is not ordinary does not mean there are not ordinary elements to them. Two of the ordinary elements in the Seder Meal is bread and wine. They were typically part of any meal of the Biblical era.
To this day bread is an ordinary part of the meal for many people around the world. When I was a kid, we almost never set down for a meal when bread was not a part of the table. That changed after I became an adult, but as a child, it was a very ordinary side dish of our table.
For those of the Biblical era, it was more than just a side dish. Bread was a utensil. Many people around the globe still use it that way today. As they eat they use the bread to push the food onto a fork or spoon. The bread is used to clean any liquid residue from the plate. It is an ordinary part of the meal.
The wine was also an ordinary part of the meal. It was, as it still is today for many people, a common and accepted part of the meal. How many of us sit down to eat a meal without having something to drink. For us, it might be water, milk, a child’s beverage, soda or an adult beverage, like wine. To have something to drink is a pretty ordinary part of most any meal at most any time in history.
As Jesus and the disciples celebrated the Passover with the Seder meal, Jesus took these two ordinary elements and did the extraordinary with them. He took bread, and after giving thanks he didn’t say the words the disciples would have known, the common words of Passover. Instead, he said, “Take. Eat. This is my body, it is broken for you.”
Then Jesus took the cup of wine, another ordinary element of the meal. And again, he said words that the disciples wouldn’t recognize as part of the Seder. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many so that their sins may be forgiven.”
In both cases, Jesus took the ordinary and he gave us grace, something extraordinary. When you and I come to the table, we remember, we celebrate and we become a part, moving from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Thanks be to God for the grace given to us as the ordinary becomes extraordinary.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved