The Bible uses several metaphors to describe the church. All of Paul’s extended descriptions of God’s gifts give attention to various concepts I like to think of as the giftwrapping. Prominent among them is the metaphor of the human body. The church, that is, is not a building or a random group of people but the body of Christ.
The most extensive description of gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14) includes the most extensive description of the church as the body of Christ. Let’s take a careful look (quoting from CSB).
Blood stains. No cleaning product advertises that it contains blood. Yet Christians sing of being washed in Jesus’ blood.
There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains. — William Cowper
Now there’s a truly unpleasant image. Hardly anything makes me want to wash my hands faster than handling raw meat and getting the blood on them. If sinners are plunged into a fountain of blood, it might cleanse their guilt, but they’ll never get their clothes clean!
To understand the imagery of being washed in the blood of Jesus, we need to consider both the connection between blood and cleansing in the Bible and the role of blood in our own bodies.… Read the rest
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. . . If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” His audience of devout Jews grumbled. So did his disciples, so much so that some of them stopped following him (John 6:66). It’s still a disturbing thought, but for the Christian, the obvious application of this metaphor is communion. Jesus said the bread is his body and the wine is his blood.
Jesus compared his claim to the manna in the desert, except that everyone who ate that food eventually died. Yet Paul makes it clear that the manna was spiritual food, as well as physical food.… Read the rest