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A Journey through the book of Genesiswith Willow Creek Community Church

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Communion and The Last Supper

Tyler Hoff

Today’s reading is a familiar reading of the hours leading up to Jesus’s crucifixion and death.  If you’ve been around church at all you’ve probably heard of or participated in Communion.  Communion is an expression and acknowledgement of the covenant made at the Last Supper.

In Biblical times animal sacrifices were common ways to honor a covenant. 

A covenant was an agreement that God made with his people.  The people would honor the agreement through an animal sacrifice, in which the blood of the animal symbolized the covenant.  Then, they would eat a meal to celebrate.

The Last Supper represents God’s new covenant between himself and the people.  Like the old covenants, a sacrifice was required and blood was shed, but this time it was Jesus.  Jesus would be the final sacrifice; his people would no longer need to sacrifice animals to honor a covenant.  Instead, people would need to repent of their sins, acknowledge what Jesus had done for them and ask the Holy Spirit to guide their lives.  In this final meal Jesus invited his disciples to “eat” and “drink” to accept this new covenant. 

We participate in the Last Supper through the act of Communion. 

We accept what Christ has done for us through his sacrifice and commit to following him through the tangible expression of drinking and eating. 

Communion is meant as an expression of our commitment to following Christ and acknowledging what he’s done for us.  But, it can be a confusing concept for children to understand.  Especially when they read the scripture passage that implies eating the “body” and drinking the “blood.”  Parents, it’s important that you spend some time helping your children understand the symbolism of the Last Supper.  This can be a very rewarding conversation to have with your children, and lead to some great discussion about how they can enter into a personal relationship with Jesus.  There is no greater conversation than the one in which your child accepts Jesus as their “Forever Friend!”

The practice of Communion is meant for anyone who has accepted Christ as their personal Savior.  If you or your child is still exploring what this means, we invite you to contact a Willow staff member who would love to talk to you about how you can take the next step to inviting Jesus into your heart!

 

Your invitation is waiting

Tyler Hoff

As we wrap up the Journey through Matthew, I want to end with a look at one of Jesus’ final parables. In Matthew 22, Jesus begins with the story of a wedding feast.   A king prepares a banquet, sparing no expense for his guests, and at the last moment, they refuse to come. What is worse is that others actually attack and even kill some of the king’s servants. While a great chasm exists between 1st century Jewish culture and us today, this kind of response to a king is universally understood as unacceptable.

To reject the mercy and kindness of a king in the ancient world would have been a great offense, one that would cause even the most merciful kings to respond with force. 

Jesus’ original audience would be equally shocked by what happens next. The king sends another group of servants to the streets to invite another group who would never expect to be recognized by a king. Those who enter receive a welcome that they could have never dreamed. However, our story provides one final warning. A final guest comes into the party not wearing the appropriate clothes. It is important to note that the king calls him friend, implying that this guest has the proper clothes yet has refused to wear them, an insult to the king.  (In Matthew 26, Jesus addresses Judas with the same term when he is betrayed). The result is that this final person is thrown out into darkness for eternal punishment. Jesus is teaching in this parable that it is possible for someone to be associated with Jesus and a church and yet to have rejected his message. 

As Jesus looks ahead to the cross, he exclaims the message that the King has extended an invitation to all of us, but failure to respond to the king comes with eternal regret and separation from the King.  


As citizens of this great king, the final sentence of this section is something to meditate on, “for many are invited, but few our chosen.”  We have been invited. How do we respond?   

JTM Group Discussion #4

Tyler Hoff

Each of the gospels are full of challenging words for us. Some passages are challenging because they’re confusing or we need additional context to understand what the original readers knew that we aren’t familiar with. Sometimes we come across something that seemingly contradicts another portion of Scripture. Sometimes the challenge comes from the fact that it’s hard to live up to what we’re being presented with. 

We wanted to resource you as much as possible to handle these tough topics so we gathered some staff to have a group discussion focusing on some of these specifically. If you’re leading a small group discussion or having a conversation with your family, it always helps to be equipped with multiple perspectives. 

Join us each week on Tuesday and engage in Journey through Matthew Group Discussions.

Jesus & Pudding

Tyler Hoff

Have you heard the phrase “the proof is in the pudding”? Have you ever thought about what it means? The original phrasing of this British colloquial proverb was that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” and pudding referred to a broad category of sausage – a type of food you definitely want to test out before serving to others.

In the temple courts as Jesus is teaching he confronts his listeners with a similar idea. Two sons respond to their father’s desire to work in the vineyard in opposite ways. One responds favorably and the other responds negatively.

By the end of the day, however, the father weighs their actions to reflect their obedience.

Have you ever stopped to consider why the sons changed their minds? Did the first son feel guilty? Did he have a change of heart? Did his better plans fall through? What about the second son? Did he think he had the father’s favor and choose to take a pass after all? Did he see the first son working and assume it was covered?

Jesus doesn’t explore the motives of the sons because at the end of the day they aren’t all that important.

The proof is in the pudding.

It would benefit all of us to take a step back and observe ourselves. What is the ratio of our verbal obedience to our acting in obedience? Words matter, and Jesus is interested in how we respond to him in that way, but he’s even more interested in how we respond with our lives.