Summary: The body of Christ (his physical body, the bread, and the church) are most useful when broken, for God’s plans to save the world. Bulletin notes attached.
Have you ever broken anything? A dish, a plate? My friend Greg, who is now the assistant pastor at the Wesleyan church in Marysville, had our share of breaking things. I got new boxing gloves one year, and we were boxing out on my back porch. He pushed me, and we broke the porch window. Another time I got my dad’s four-wheeler when I got it stuck on a beach, and couldn’t get it off again before the tide came in. And our most infamous break was another guy’s arm in a wrestling match. He too is a Wesleyan pastor. Whodathunk?
We got into trouble fairly often, and we learned that things were usually better before they were broken. In fact, most things are more valuable when they are not broken. But not always. Today we will look at what the Scripture calls “the body of Christ”, and we will see how God chooses to break it. The broken body of Christ, we will see, is God’s method of saving the world.
There are three things in the Bible called the body of Christ. If you’re a Bible scholar, perhaps two of them pop right into your head. But we’ll begin looking at the most obvious of the three:
1) the physical body of Christ. We believe what Colossians 2:9 says: For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. We believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God the Son, entered this world as a baby. He remained fully God, but he became fully human as well. John 1:1 says that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And v14 says: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Christ, who was very much God, also took on flesh. Why?
a) to show the way. To show us how to love and forgive, to care and to stand up for the truth. But, lest He be confused with any old moral teacher like Confucius or Muhammed, Christ also came
b) for a debt to pay. This debt of sin, which we all have accumulated over the years. It’s like a bank account: the problem happens when we take out more than we put in, when we withdraw more than we deposit. Now, people try to make deposits like going to church, being good, giving to charity and so on. But each of us made too many withdrawals. We each needed someone to make an investment into our spiritual bank accounts.
Which is what Christ did. He paid the debt for us. The penalty due to each one of us because of our overdrawn bank account, He absorbed. The penalty was death. And He took it. This is the first area where we see “brokenness” come into play. The physical body of Christ was broken for our sacrifice. He took the penalty for us. He made the sacrifice for us. Watch what He went through:
Matthew 26:49 – a deceitful kiss from a good friend. 27:26 – He was flogged and whipped with stone-studded leather straps. 27:29 – He had a crown of thorns placed on his head, and v30 says the guards hit him in the head, driving the thorns deep into his flesh. He also spat on Him, and finally in verse 35, we read they crucified Him. They hung Him on a cross. He was certainly broken.
If Christ had only taught good living, we’d still be slaves to sin. We’d have no positive hope of rising from the dead. But since He was God, and paid our debt for us, He set us free from sin: from its penalty (hell), and its power (having to obey it, having to sin). In order for the body of Christ to reach everybody, to touch everybody, to save anybody, it had to be broken. Broken for you, for me, for all who live. We must believe these facts, and receive Him into our lives. We must ask this broken man to come and fix us. To accept His sacrifice, to stop trying to pay our debt ourselves. Even as we prepare for communion, let’s take a moment to remember His sacrifice, the broken physical body of Christ.
The second thing in the Bible referred to as the body of Christ is…well, us. 2) The spiritual body of Christ is the church. 1 Cor. 12:27 says this: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” Believers are called the body of Christ. The Greek word for church, “ecclesia”, literally means “called-out ones.” If Christ has called you out of the world, out of sin, and into eternal life, you are the church.