Most of us don’t read theology
textbooks for fun.
God knows that. So it is
that the New Testament in particular abounds with metaphors, similes and life
object examples—things which make the point clear by portraying it in an
everyday sort of picture. You will remember some of them:
dissertation on the whole armor of God was probably inspired by the fact that
when he wrote it, he was chained to a couple of Roman soldiers.
parable of the sower and the soils would be familiar to the farmers of his day,
and the gardeners of ours.
among us who have remodeled a house in any way can certainly see the point of
the parable of the builders, the house upon rock or sand.
We continue to do this
today. If you will look back into a conventional hymnal with songs dating
from the 1800’s it will not be long before you find metaphors about the sea and
ships. Haven of Rest, Lower Lights and The Old Gospel Ship are but three
This persisted into the twentieth
century, in particular to one outstanding picture before us: the steam
railroad locomotive. If you have ever traveled on such a train, you know
exactly why. The rhythm of the pistons and wheels was borrowed by many
artists; if you listen even now to Southern Gospel style music, the rhythm of
that engine can still be found, often quite easily. Older Christians will
remember “Jesus on the Mainline” and others.
One reason we pick up such
metaphors is that both the ship and the railroad engine mean a voyage—going
someplace we have not been, or returning to home. The picture is easy to
grasp, and the preacher’s sermon easy to outline—for the Christian is a pilgrim
in this world, on a voyage from sin to heaven.
Have you ever thought of the
Lord’s Supper in that light? The elements themselves, bread and wine, are
common enough. Christ gave them new meanings while adapting older
meanings to the same cause.
think of bread. It is excellent nourishment, and adaptable in many ways
(including some which involve peanut butter.) It is the food of a mature
Christian. But please note that bread doesn’t last very well. You
keep needing more of it.
think of wine. Wine is an excellent antiseptic (used for cleansing wounds
in ancient times) and a reasonable anesthetic as well. In contrast to
bread, it keeps quite well for a long time.
There you have it:
nourishment for the soul, needed each and every day. A cleanser and pain
killer, which will last forever. We need Him every hour; we will go with