Matthew 26:26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
One of our regular church practices is that we serve the Lord’s Supper on the first Sunday of each month, just as we did this past Sunday both at church and in our homes. Communion not only brings together our people around our common Savior but sends us out as a community to replicate the life of love that our Lord Jesus calls us to emulate in our daily lives. Sometimes we need reminding that this monthly five-minute portion of our worship service was originally a full Passover meal that would have provided not only fuller stomachs but rich imagery to feast on as well.
In today’s text from Matthew 26 we see Jesus with his disciples celebrating a Passover meal. Ancient Jews—and our Jewish friends today—commemorated this annual event which reminded them of God’s faithful deliverance of the Jews from Pharaoh over a 1000 years before Jesus. This was the single most defining event in Israel’s history. God’s wrath came to Egypt and only those who put their faith in Yahweh by slaying a lamb and spreading its blood on their doorposts would be saved as the angel passed over their household. Death came to any who did not faithfully come under the blood covering of the substitutionary sacrifice. We learn that God’s gift of salvation is a costly one that requires sacrifice.
In fact, in 1 Corinthians 11:24, some manuscripts record Paul quoting Jesus’ words as, “This is my body, broken for you.” Perhaps your own tradition of the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist uses these words which emphasize the centrality of brokenness that precedes the release of God’s mighty saving power.
I have always appreciated Henry Nouwen’s contributions on the spiritual life but particularly his take on the Lord’s Supper. In Life of the Beloved, Nouwen reflects on the bread that Jesus takes, blesses, breaks and gives at the Last Supper. In speaking of the broken bread, he reminds his readers that God’s beloved sons and daughters are like that broken bread in the hands of Jesus. That because Jesus himself took on brokenness to bring healing, our own brokenness can be redeemed when we remember we are in the hands of our Savior. Nouwen says,
“The deep truth is that our human suffering need not be an obstacle to the joy and
peace we so desire, but can become, instead, the means to it. The great secret of
the spiritual life, the life of the Beloved Sons and Daughters of God, is that
everything we live, be it gladness or sadness, joy or pain, health or illness, can all be
part of the journey toward the full realization of our humanity” (Life of the Beloved,
Questions to Consider
What pain in your life is part of your life journey right now whether in your family, with work, in your finances or a health issue? Is there a pain affecting the world that grabs your attention and perhaps is something God is calling you to address? How in your daily work and life is suffering a regular theme and how do you presently see God working in it?
Jesus, thank You for choosing to allow your body to be broken so that we might experience healing. As we daily rest in Your loving grace, give us the confidence to hand over the painful areas in our lives and realize that You are a great redeemer and restorer of broken things. As we face broken systems in our own lives and those whom we serve and work among, may we find confidence in the fact that You gave Your life on the cross so that brokenness would be ultimately defeated. Amen.