Summary: Simple bread has incredible meaning when it’s used to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
Meaning of the Bread
For Christians, this is a season of remembering. We look forward to celebrating and remembering Christ’s death and resurrection but, in advance, we remember many other events and words that led up to that horrific sacrificial offering of Himself. During his final meal with his disciples, Jesus did something that he wants Christians to remember.
Please turn, with me, to the earliest record of the events of Jesus’ life and ministry.
Mark. 14.22- he took some bread and did something unusual and new with that bread. He blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples and told them to eat it and that it was his body. It is recorded similarly in the parallel account in Matthew 26, but the account in Luke adds another detail.
Luke 22.19- says that he gave thanks, which is another way of saying that he blessed it. But, then, he said something else.
“…this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me…”
Christians are to perpetuate what Jesus began in this final evening meal before his sacrificial offering. Christians are to follow the practice of taking bread, thanking God for it, breaking it, and, through this, remembering Jesus. Christians are to remember what he did and are to remember that this represents his body. There is symbolism involved in simple bread- a simple ordinary and everyday commodity became a powerful symbol of something incredibly great.
‘This is my body.’ What is involved in that expression? Let’s explore that a bit today as we anticipate regular participation in taking the symbol of bread.
Paul makes some helpful statements about the bread.
1 Cor. 10.16b- our taking of the bread puts us into communion, or sharing, of the body of Christ.
v. 17- our taking makes us one loaf and one body because we participate in the one body of Jesus, represented in the bread. Our taking of Jesus into ourselves does something mystical, magical, powerful, and wonderful! Paul puts this in an interesting context.
v. 18- because people ate of the meat from the sacrifice, they participated in the altar and all that it meant. They became part of the system and were tied to the worship system of the time. Participation in one made one a participant in the greater. Taking a bit of bread makes one a part of what gives that bread its significance-which is Christ’s body.
Let’s look a little farther.
1 Cor. 11.23- Paul received instruction, from the Lord, about something Christ did the night he was betrayed.
v. 24- he declared that this is his body.
Question: what is his body?
Question: what did he do for his body?
These are important questions and they open us up to some wonderful blessing from God through Jesus.
v. 26- read. Then, in “The Message”- “…every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you re-enact in your words and actions the death of the Master.” Every time we take the bread, we re-enact the death of the Master- we act it out- we remember it, in that way- not just in an ethereal and mental way. Our senses come into play. Our bodies come into play. Our emotions come into view, too. Our whole selves- like loving God with all our soul, strength, bodies, and mind- participates in what Jesus did. This simple action that Jesus performed gets enacted one more time. Around the world, this occurs countless thousands of times each weekend. In some circles, it happens thousands of times each single day. Jesus death- the central event of God’s plan for salvation- is put before Christian people, and non-Christians, too, each and every time God’s people take of bread in communion. We get to act it out. We get to remember, by doing, not just by thinking it through- this is not an academic exercise. This is so much of the way God wants it- to be actually enacted and done over and over and over again so the message goes deeper and deeper and deeper into each of God’s children.
Jesus said that the bread represented his body that was broken for you. What’s his body and what does it mean that it was broken for each of us?
1. First of all, his body is his body- his physical body. He lived in a physical body- that started as a newborn body and ended up a healthy 33-year-old body- in the prime of life for most men. But he laid that perfect physical body down in sacrifice. We’re told that he was scourged, in the context of preparation for crucifixion. (Read from Dictionary of the Bible). Then he was crucified. This was not pretty. And what came of this, for us?