Sacrament – symbol, sign, signature by Deon Crafford
Matthew 26:26-29 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Baptism and the Eucharist or Communion, are the two sacraments contained in the Christian Faith. Neither of these are essential to one’s salvation as that had already been completed by Jesus Christ. Then why is it still important that these sacraments be applied in the church? Why if my salvation had already been effected, do I need to partake in the Holy Communion and be Baptised? Is this not then counter to the teachings of the Word, and running close to some form of penitence or even legalism in trying to play a role in my salvation or righteousness before God? Are these sacraments non-negotiable pre-conditions to living my life in and for Christ? One would imagine the answer must be no, otherwise one would be discounting the intervention of Jesus Christ in bringing us in right-standing before God. And yet they are such powerful events in the Christian Faith. Why?
First of all these were instituted by Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our Faith, making the participation in them an act of obedience to our Lord. That alone should be sufficient reason for us to honour the sacraments, but we could go further and ask ourselves why these were instituted by Jesus? Without claiming insight into the mind of Christ, we can safely assume that when Jesus installed these two sacraments, His aim was to create visible signs and physical actions which pointed directly to the grace He had worked and bestowed on all of us. Although we’re only baptised once – as a sign of taking up the New Life in Jesus Christ, we regularly partake in the Holy Communion, which time and again reminds us that we’re living under the power of God’s immeasurable grace as facilitated by the body and the blood of Jesus Christ.
Many today are keen to have something significant they hold on to, celebrate or believe in, tattooed on their bodies. It becomes a public and permanent display of something important to that person. When we partake in the sacraments they become to us symbols or representations of what happened when Christ died for us all, they become signposts that direct us to a life of purity and spiritual maturity and they ultimately become our spiritual tattoos – the public and permanent display of Whom we’re living by. It holds then that I approach and partake in these sacraments as a clean sheet of paper, presenting myself to have the name of Jesus Christ written all over me. And that is what the sacraments represent – we have Jesus Christ written all over us. What joy then to partake in these events and confirm my identity, my grace-filled heritage and my future!
Love to all