Friday, July 30, 2010

Sharing the Spoils

In different ways and for different reasons, the image of Jesus as a victorious leader-king has been for several years the one which strikes me most. As such, Psalm 110 is one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture. It just so happened that it was also the OT reading at church last week, as the sermon text was Mark 12:35-44, in which Jesus refers to Psalm 110:1.

1 The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

2 The Lord sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
3 Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
4 The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”

5 The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
6 He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth.
7 He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.

During Communion I had saw this image of Jesus as if he were King Arthur sitting to dine with his comrades, the Knights of the Round Table, after a great victory. It was a merry scene, full of mead and broiled meats. The victorious king had returned from battle and now wanted to share a time of glad rest with his brothers in arms, those for whom he had fought. He sat down to share a lavish meal with them, not as their overlord, but as a friend. In this meal of celebration, the king shared the spoils of his victory with all who were there: gold rings and necklaces, finely embroidered linens, and expertly crafted weapons.

How much so with our King Jesus, whose feet rest on the necks of Satan and his minions and of all the sin, doubts, fears, and failures which plague us. Not all his enemies are under his feet yet; Death is the last foe to be vanquished ("until I make your enemies your footstool"; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28). During our Lord's Supper, he is spreading a table for us to celebrate the rest he has won for us, his people clothed in "holy garments" of his own righteousness (Psalm 110:3; Revelation 7:14; 19:8). Jesus condescends to meet with us in glad fellowship and to enjoy rest together. At the table he is also sharing with us the plunder, the spoils of his victory (Isaiah 53:12). He bestows on us life, cleansing, forgiveness, assurance that we belong to the household of God both now and forever, and spiritual power to fight the good fight of faith (see John 6:51; Matthew 26:28; Luke 15:23-24).

In short, the Lord's Supper can be a time for us when we experience and learn in the present what is true of the church and her king through all ages: "They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers" (Revelation 17:14).


Ted M. Gossard said...
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Ted M. Gossard said...

Isn't it interesting that Jesus triumphs in all the ways you describe by the cross. And the Table re-presents that. And we're to follow and conquer in that train. Was a stumbling block to the Jews who expected the Messiah to carry on the tradition of "Holy War" according to their understanding.

I have to admit, it's hard for me to think of Jesus' triumph and victory in militaristic terms, though it does seem that in the end evil is indeed vanquished by the sword of his mouth, his simple word.