Warning: this post is me simply thinking "outloud", so give me a little lattitude here as I'm still working out my thoughts.
First, let us read Luke's account of Jesus' words over the bread at the Last Supper:
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”Of course, given that it is Memorial Day, I can't help but note that "in remembrance of me" can also be translated "in memorial of me". The terminology is rich here and, in part, relates to the Passover, which was also described as a "memorial" (Exod 12:14). For a much fuller treatment on the theological implications of the language of "memorial" see Scott Hahn's Letter and Spirit: From Written Text to Living Word, 87-102.
While I clearly think that Jesus' words and actions must be understood within their Jewish context, I did recently notice something in John Nolland's three volume commentary on Luke which I thought was interesting. Here it is...
Nolland writes that in Thucydides (History, 2.43.2) and Libanus (Declam. 24.3), "give one's body" is "an image of dying in battle for the sake of one's people" (Nolland, Luke, 3:1054; emphasis added).
I found this striking. In fact, certain Jewish traditions suggest the idea that an annointed one would be cut off in battle, much like the Davidic figure in Psalm 89. In fact, a while back Brant wrote an amazing post on the messianic interpretation of this psalm in ancient Judaism (see my follow-up, where I show how it is used in connection with Isaiah 53 to refer to Jesus in 1 Peter). Nolland's insight might offer further insight here into Jesus' role. Jesus might see himself as winning the battle, by dying in it.
Moreover, it should be pointed out that the martial language may not be completely disconnected from atonement theology--after all, redemption can refer to the rescuing of prisoners of war who have been liberated. Just a thought...