What hangs on your tree that tells about Jesus?
It is said that once the tree became part of the Christmas traditions the people wanted something on the tree to tell about Jesus. So they hung small white wafers on the branches. These wafers reminded the people of the unleavened bread eaten during the Lord’s Supper or Passover which is a symbol of Jesus’ body that was put to death for us.
In later years, people made little cookies in different shapes like stars and angels and hung them on their tree. These cookies helped them think of how sweet God’s love is for us.
It was prophesied that Bethlehem, a little town in Judah (now Israel), would have a ruler of Israel “come forth” out.
“But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)
Jesus, son of Mary, was born in the town, which, being interpreted, means place or house (beth) of bread (lehem).
Within the tabernacle and temple was a ‘place of bread’ – The Table of Shew Bread or Bread of the Face or Presence of Christ.
There were three covenants made Covenants made at the Table of Shew Bread concerning the bread:
- The Covenant of Manna
- The Covenant of Unleavened Bread
- The Covenant of Passover
Manna was to be gathered in exact amounts no more and no less. The Principle learned from this is “Thou shalt not live by bread only, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Deut. 8:2-3; Matthew 4:3-4; Luke 4:3-4) and the covenant is, “I will live exactly by the Word of God.”
Unleavened Bread was placed on the Table of Shewbread and it is the bread eaten at the Passover, before the Israelites left Egypt. Leaven is a symbol for the spirit of influence (good or bad) just as yeast spreads its influence through the whole “lump” of dough. Influence can sway the people. In this case god wanted them to abandon the influence of Egypt (worldliness, idolatry, etc.) The Principle is “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean, put away the evil of your doings” (Isaiah 1:16) and the covenant is, “I will put away the spirit of the world.”
The Covenant of Passover had to do with the Passover Lamb which had to be cooked whole with fire and represented Christ giving of his “whole” self to “feed”, “strengthen”, “nourish”, “empower” us through the atonement. In John 6:51-57 Jesus explains the Passover lamb: to eat thereof is to partake of eternal life (it signifies a relationship in which Christ dwells within the individual and he in Christ) THAT as the father is in Christ and Christ lives by the Father – even so shall he that partakes of the true Passover shall live by Christ. Becoming one with Christ, being perfect. The covenant is, “I will live only by the Spirit.”
When we partake of the bread at the sacrament altar we are renewing these covenants and asking for the Spirit of Christ to be with us. We are partaking of the fruits of the atonement:
With the Bread Christ overcame our Physical Death. When we partake of his flesh, we are partaking of his life; his example; his teachings; his commandments; etc. We demonstrate our gratitude.
With the Water Christ overcame our Spiritual Death. When we partake of his blood, we are partaking of the blood of atonement; to be cleansed, redeemed, sanctified, made holy, etc. We rejoice.
Eating and drinking as symbols suggest nourishment, strength, power, refreshment, rejuvenation, energy, etc. We are preparing to receive eternal life.
The Messiah (as a Priest) is standing at the Table of Shew Bread (the sacrament table). When we approach the table (as deacons) we are in His Presence. He stands at the table offering the sacrament (atonement) then Christ (as a deacon) proffers his atonement to us.
The Sacrament is so much more than just thinking about Christ at the time of his death while the sacrament is being passed.
This forgotten symbol has so much more meaning than bread or wafers alone. Next time you take a piece of broken bread during Sacrament Meeting think about these covenants.
“Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger…” (John 6:35)
“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:51)