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Luke 10 tells a story of two sisters, Mary and Martha, whom Jesus visited while in their village. The Bible says that, during that visit, Martha became distracted by all the preparations, while Mary was focused on fellowship with Jesus. When Martha spoke up, Jesus answered that Marthas concerns were many, but "only one thing is needed", and that Mary had chosen it.
Historians can tell you how important fellowship is: every culture, no matter how ancient, had customs and methods of gathering together in fellowship with one another. Jesus himself said, "Where two or more have gathered in his name..." Clearly there is a blessing from gathering--even more so when gathered in Christs name. Naturally, with a gathering of any length comes hunger; the larger the gathering, the more mouths to feed. Thus, Archaeologists find the custom of slaughtering a large animal during a fellowship gathering in most ancient civilizations worldwide. In the Hebraic culture it was a bull or a ram. Jesus parable of the prodigal son even speaks of slaughtering the fatted calf to celebrate; the loyal son then talks of wishing to celebrate with his friends over a meal of one of his father s goats.
Like Martha, it is natural for people to get distracted by the preparations and miss out on the true meaning of festivities. Most cultures, including Judaism, placed the importance of their festivals on the obligatory slaughter of their feast meat. The reverence of such large, crowd-feeding animals as cows and rams is a deviation by many cultures from the true purpose of the celebration. A more extreme deviation can be found in the many cultures--some even in Biblical times--where the preparations escalated to human sacrifice.
Jesus came to our world fully aware of the misguided reverence in sacrificial festivals around the world. Much of his ministry was spent confronting religious leaders within Gods chosen nation who had become distracted by the laws, the rituals, and the symbols. Now look at what he does at the last supper. This is a supper founded on the ritual slaughtering of a lamb, but Jesus does not base any symbolism of his ministry on the lamb. Instead he waits until after the meal. He passes up the festival meat, and instead picks up bread and wine to use in his message. Bread and wine: neither of which require that anything die in its preparation. At that moment, Gods son set a precedence that has lasted from then until now; there are no more excuses to confuse the sacred act of fellowship with the shedding of blood.
Heres my question: Jesus asked us to "do this" in remembrance of him. What distracts us from remembering Jesus? Is it the preparations? Is it the symbols? Is it the rituals? Is that really what he asked us to do?
Heavenly Father, you are amazing. Your wisdom is astounding. Thank you for sending your son to this fallen, misguided world. Thank you for his ministry to us. And thank you for the fellowship we have with you through Jesus Christ. Amen.