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What was God doing in World War One?

Now while they were eating (Jerusalem, AD 30), Jesus having taken bread, having expressed thanks, having broken, and having given to the disciples, said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and, when he had given thanks, he gave to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this - being poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins - is my covenant blood. 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 26: 26-29
Over 40 million men were broken in the First World War - over 1600 Jersey men killed, many more broken. What’s that got to do with Matthew’s eye-witness record of Jesus and his disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem the night before he was crucified in AD 30? See bold above.

In that upper room: Jesus had taken bread – he had become a man; he had expressed thanks – he was thankful that he was there as a man to complete a task; he had broken that bread – he was hours away from being broken, cruelly and as a criminal, on that cross. He would go under the pain and injustice of the religious, political and military authorities of his day. He resolved to go under. He wouldn’t fight.


‘He died that we might be forgiven/ He died to make us good/ That we might go at last to heaven/ Saved by his precious blood.’ (C F Alexander, hymn-writer, 1818-1895)
The 1918 Armistice was a contract between the Allies and the Germans. In that upper room Jesus took a cup – a cup full of awful pain and shame. He said that this cup represented his blood, the blood of a new contract. He told his disciples, “Drink this cup.” Participate in the contract, in God’s one-sided cease fire. This contract is for the forgiveness of all wrongs. And for something even more positive.

He was about to pay – within hours – for the forgiveness of the sins of others. The troops on both sides and from all over the world – by contrast – had been prepared to kill and be killed for their rights, their nations and their freedoms. Given these contrasts, where was the LORD God during the First World War? What do you think?

Jesus there in AD 30 Jerusalem may well give us an answer because, after inviting them to participate in his broken bread and his awful cup he says this to them, “I tell you, I shall not drink ever again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it with you new in My Father’s realm.”

The vine in the Hebrew Bible mainly represented the Israelites, God’s chosen people. An early reference is to a choice vine; later references are to a wild vine. In between they had turned away from the LORD God and towards their own interests, while maintaining an outward religion.  

They had wanted freedom from the LORD God. Their starting point of no longer serving the LORD God was the appointment of a powerful fighter as their king. Relying on him they went to war. They too became “troops” -prepared to kill and be killed for their rights, their nation and their freedoms.
The crowning fruit of the wild vine which was the Israelites in AD 30 was to kill their own long-promised Messiah, Jesus. 

“I tell you,” Jesus said “I shall not drink ever again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it with you new in My Father’s realm.” The cup he was about to drink was the fruit of the wild vine: the fruit of getting and keeping and living for themselves by their own (supposed) powers. 


‘God had condemned sin before, but never so efficiently as in the death of his Son.’ (C H Spurgeon, preacher and writer, 1834-1892) 
He became the enemy of his own people and was put to death – because he loved them. Fifty days after Jesus’ death and resurrection, his message came to the religious, political and military authorities – and to people of all nationalities - in Jerusalem. “This Jesus whom you crucified now has for you the gift of forgiveness and the gift of God’s own holy spirit to live within you.”

In that case, where was the LORD God during World War One? He had long ago been killed by those who regarded him as Public Enemy Number One. Was he, 100 years ago, recalling the same death and brokenness experienced by the dead and broken. Was he offering the cup he had already drunk to all those who were alive across the world throughout the conflict? 

Was his promise the same as that given in Jerusalem to those who killed him? Forgiveness and much more besides? Is he still doing that?
Sinner Syvret

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