Return from Exile, Return to the Garden
In Scripture, exile means death. When Israel has gone into exile, God shows Ezekiel a valley full of bones and asks him if they can live, and Ezekiel says, “Only You know Lord.” Israel had become a graveyard, a cemetery in Assyria and Babylon. The gospels make it abundantly clear that Jesus came to be Israel, to be the true and faithful Israel but also to restore Israel. This meant that it was necessary for Jesus to go into exile, for Jesus to go down into the grave in order that Israel might come out of the grave. Jesus had to go into exile so that Israel could return to the land. This means that this meal is an exilic meal. It is the body and blood of our Lord, the death and the exile of Jesus. We are eating the exile of God incarnate. But this means that our exile has been served, our payment has been made. Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden and so began the exile of the people of God, in the day they ate of the fruit they did truly die: they died the death of exile. Later, Israel received the land of promise as a type of the end of exile, but even they lost it due to sin. But now in Christ, our exile is over. We have returned to the garden, and God invites us to eat from the Tree Life, to eat and live forever.