The Grand Entrance
When the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai, Moses went up the mountain, and then came down again with the law. Here, Jesus has gone up into heaven in the ascension, and—so Luke wants us to understand—he is now coming down again, not with a written law carved on tablets of stone, but with the dynamic energy of the law, designed to be written on human hearts.
Part of the challenge of this passage is the question: have p 30 our churches today got enough energy, enough spirit-driven new life, to make onlookers pass any comment at all? Has anything happened which might make people think we were drunk? If not, is it because the spirit is simply at work in other ways, or because we have so successfully quenched the spirit that there is actually nothing happening at all?
The apologist Justin Martyr (ca. AD 100–165) wrote a defense of the Christian faith in the middle of the second century to debunk the rumors swirling about Christians. Some rumors included the belief that Christians practiced cannibalism—since there was talk of eating flesh and drinking blood, and such things were done in secret. Justin offers a thorough rebuttal to these claims and in doing so provides the most thorough early account of the Lord’s Supper that we possess from the early church (First Apology 65–67). Justin indicates the standard elements of the eucharistic rite:
• A celebration of baptism often precedes it (linking these two sacraments together liturgically).
• A prayer is offered for the entire community.
• The blessing is given over the elements by what Justin calls the “president of the assembly.”
• The deacons distribute the elements to the members.
Furthermore, Justin mentions three requirements for participation:
• The participant must believe that Christian teachings are true.
• The participant must be baptized.
• The participant must be actively living according to Christian teaching (Billy, Beauty, 62).