[Warning: The Following Contains Christianity. Interesting stuff though, I think. I hope.]
So over the last week our school had a week-of-prayer, with a little prayer room set up. There were art supplies and a lot of paper, (and some Bibles), and some prayer books. The idea was that you would spend an hour at a time reading, or writing, or painting, and just talking to God. A bit more mediative than the desperate OH-GOD-SAVE-ME prayer I’m used to, and I found the difference really intersting. So I painted a bunch, and wrote little notes to tell people that they were awesome, and I read a bunch of a Celtic Prayer book.
If anyone wants to get me this for Christmas, I would love you forever.
It had daily readings and devotionals that were more useful or less useful as the case may be, but I was extremely caught by the reading for November 10th. In it, they were talking about David and Jonathan, and what it meant that they’d sworn a blood oath, a covenant, regarding each other. They were more than just good friends, they had become the local equivalent of blood brothers. The oath, (as reconstructed through SCIENCE (or maybe tradition)), is this;
This bread is my body, all my strength is yours, and this wine my blood which I will shed willingly on your behalf. Your enemies become my enemies, too. All I have is yours by right.
So you know. Legit. And why would Saul have then gone crazy and done his best to kill David when he heard they’d done this? Because they’d both become each other’s heirs. If for any reason Jonathan died (perhaps in battle, he was a crazy military leader after all), the crown would go to David. And because Saul was all about personal power MY FAMILY MINE I AM THE GREATEST THE CROWN WILL EVER BE MINE BECAUSE I AM SO AWESOME LOOK AT ME GO, he found the idea that the crown would go to someone else to be a trifle offensive.
Anyways, we know how that ended. Jonathan died in battle, and David was crowned king by the whole nation, who said “We can follow the son of the crazy guy or we can follow the military strategist who the prophet tells us to follow. Looks like the Prophet is SPEAKING TRUTH.”
But when I
heard saw that passage for the first time, those phrases sounded familiar. If you’ve been in a church setting a lot, you’ve probably heard communion taken. And then if you look at Matthew 26, it goes;
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
— Matt 26:26-29
So this is like– SIMILAR. And I know it’s not an exact match, but it makes sudden SENSE to me that when Jesus was saying those things, he’d be referencing some cultural context everybody knew. “Look, we’re blood brothers, my job is on you and I can totally die in your place. Which I’m gonna do. CAUSE WE”RE BLOOD BROTHERS now drink up.”
I am so heretical.
But like– *points from passage to passage* doesn’t it look like it matches a bit? Cultural references? Because I was always baffled as to why Jesus would say something like that. Why are you talking about blood and bread like that?
It’s because Jesus is talking to his BEST FRIENDS. And he’s saying that they’re family now, and when he says for everyone else to keep sharing the bread and the wine, they’re becoming blood brothers with Jesus too. (And each other? Yes? Yes?)
And I suppose that also means we have Jesus’s imperative to help the poor and be friends with the people who society treats as worthless or “sinners” and stand up to the establishment and tell them to stick their heads in buckets of water and boil them, etc.
Historical context makes thinks make sense, I am SO MUCH A FAN.
And so there’s that.