Monday, May 2, 2011

Eucharisteo - "He Gave Thanks"

So bloggers, with all of my spare time now that school is out I am currently reading a book called "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are" by Ann Voskamp. This book is about experiencing God's grace and how the author came to a realization of what it means to experience grace. I am only through chapter 2 but already something has struck a huge chord with me: when the author begins to examine the word eucharisteo.
The author examined several passages in which thanks is being and breaks down the meaning of this word eucharisteo. First there's the aspect of Jesus giving thanks:
   'While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." ' - Matthew 26:26

So at first look, this tells me that Jesus was blessing the bread, he gave thanks to God for providing them with bread to eat. But at second glance I have a few questions. First, the disciples were already eating, therefore wouldn't a blessing over the food have already been given? Why did Jesus feel the need to bless the bread separately and specifically? Second, he says "take and eat; this is my body". This sparked a familiarity with me as usually this is what the pastor says when we take communion - an act of thanksgiving. The bread a symbol of Jesus' body broken for us on the cross, and the wine a symbol of Jesus' blood shed on the cross for our sins. So what this passage actually means to me is that Jesus was giving thanks for the sacrifice that was to come. Jesus was giving thanks to God for his crucifixion, for his death.  I don't know about you  but I surely don't feel in a thanksgiving mood when death occurs and certainly not if it was supposed to be my own. This is just it. Jesus counted everything as a loss for the sake of the Lord's will. I am not thankful for death because it means suffering, pain, loss, and ultimately treasuring the world more than treasuring the Lord. But Jesus knew God's ultimate plan was for something greater, and so He gave thanks to God for His plan, for His gift, and for the sacrifice of His life.
Another thing, the people of this time ate bread and wine probably every day, I mean wasn't that a part of their everyday diet? I always think of the act of thanking God for Jesus' sacrifice physically through communion. But I think in actuality it was meant as a symbol to give thanks daily for the sacrifice of Jesus, for His body broken on the cross for my sin, and for His blood shed in order that I might receive the gift of grace.
   ' 20Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21“Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.d If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
25At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure." ' Matthew 11:20-26
Jesus performed miracles in all of these cities specifically to show them the power of the Lord, to show them that He was the Messiah and the Savior and yet here it is revealed that they did not repent of their sins. So it seems that Jesus had failed. And yet it says "At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth," Jesus gave thanks. Jesus gave thanks even in the face of seeming failure. He gave thanks to God because He clinged to the truth that God is sovereign and He knew that although at that point it seemed the miracles were a waste, that God would work all things for the good of those who called on Him.
"On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it." 1 Corinthians 11:23-24 (emphasis added)
Again, Jesus gave thanks to God. He gave thanks to God for the betrayal. He gave thanks to God because He trusted in Gods will, He knew Gods will, and He knew that ultimately God was going to use that sin for the good of those who have called on Him.

And now an examination of our thanks:
'Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then He said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."' Luke 17:17-19 (the story of the healing of ten lepers)
Only one leper returned to thank Jesus for what He had done for Him. Just one. But Voskamp provides a closer look at this passage. Jesus tells the foreigner "your faith has made you well." But why? Jesus has already healed him completely before? Why is it that Jesus says that now the leper's faith has made him well? Voskamp examines the Greek word for the translation of "well" which is sozo and means "to save" or salvation. The leper's faith was rewarded with spiritual salvation and the evidence of His faith was in His thanksgiving. The evidence of accepting grace is thanksgiving.
"Our salvation in Christ is real, yet the completeness of that salvation is not fully realized in a life until the life realizes the need to give thanks." - Ann Voskamp
So ultimately I must cling to the truth of Gods sovereignty and His ultimate will and power and in all things give thanks as thanksgiving is the evidence of my faith, of my salvation. Thanksgiving is the outpour of truly clinging to who God tells us He is even through suffering.