This is My Body which is Broken for You.
As we approach the Easter season, let us consider the words that Jesus spoke on the same night He knew He was going to be betrayed. The very Bread of Life broke bread with His disciples as He loved, fed, and served them all—including the one who would betray Him. When Jesus asked them to eat the bread which symbolized His broken body, He didn’t simply share a story or explain coming events; He took it a step further to illustrate the soon-coming crucifixion. This allowed the disciples to actively participate and literally digest His teaching.
Jesus didn’t give this particular instruction to the multitudes, but intimately experienced this event with His personally-chosen twelve disciples. As He broke and served the bread, He was—at that very moment—enacting the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy “ Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me” (Psalm 41:9). He knew that the imminent betrayal by Judas would initiate events leading to His sacrificial death for all of them—even the traitor.
Jesus’ words are doubly-precious to me, personally. I can still hear my father—my first and best pastor—reverently repeating Jesus’ words to each church member as he lovingly served communion to those of us kneeling together around the altar. Though Dad was a loving and expressive father, I never heard him speak more kindly, humbly, and tenderly than when serving the Body of Christ to the Body of Christ in this manner.
Later, as an adult, I realized that some in that very congregation would also soon “betray” Jesus (i.e., a board member who had a secret affair with a lady in the church). But in that holy moment, we gathered, as one Body, in solemn silence, as we remembered our Savior and His Body which was broken for us. Each one searched his or her own heart because we knew— without exception—we all needed the sacrifice of a Savior to wash away our sins.
This is My Body…
As Jesus and His disciples gathered around the Passover table, He was keenly aware that His body was about to be broken. This precious body, specifically chosen to express the image of God to the World He came to save, now neared the end of its earthly usefulness.
Jesus’ body had been deliberately designed by God. As Hebrews 10:5 says, “Therefore, when Christ came into the world He said, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me.” It was not a handsome or well-built body so that everyone—not just the beautiful people—could relate to Him. This divine/human body was born in a stable so that everyone—not just the rich people—could approach Him.
This body had enabled Him to preach the Good News to the poor, to touch and heal the sick, to free captives of all sorts, to open the eyes of the blind, and to feed the hungry. It had set the pace for rugged fishermen as they walked together for untold miles proclaiming that He, this unlikely Royalty, had come to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth.
Yes, this body had served Him well. It had been nurtured, fed, raised, and trained by His human parents, loved—and hated—by those He came to save, and followed by His disciples and the great multitudes.
Which is broken…
But one more thing was required of this precious body.
It needed to be broken.
Jesus knew what was coming. He didn’t run away. Though He wrestled mightily with His fully human-yet-somehow-fully-God nature during His prayer time in the Garden of Gethsemane, He defeated the temptation to yield to His human desires. After that, it was a done deal. He only had to walk it out with His Father.
For me? For them? For all of us? How on earth could the disciples understand how Jesus’ broken body could benefit them? They loved Him. They followed Him, constantly, for three years. He taught them. He fed them. How could His broken body—His death—be anything but devastating to them? How could they possibly understand?
They had walked with that body. They had seen the miracles. They had eaten the multiplied loaves and fishes from their 12 leftover baskets after He fed the 5,000. They believed that He was the Son of God. So even though they didn’t comprehend the significance of what was about to take place, if Jesus said to take and eat His broken Body, they would do just that.
Jesus doesn’t want His Body to be Broken Again
As the Body of Christ, Jesus is the Head, we are the Body. If we are not connected to Him, we will just not function well. If we are not connected to each other, we will be all out of joint! In Christ, the Body is not made up of one part, but of many (I Corinthians 12:14).
We cannot say, “I don’t need you!” because God, Himself, has placed every part in the Body, just as He wanted them to be (1 Cor. 12:18). If God has designed His Body “just so,” who are we to disagree? God even designed His Body in such a way that He gives greater honor to the parts that lack it, so that there should be no division in the Body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other (1 Cor. 12:24b-25).
We are so connected that, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Cor. 12:26). There should be no fractures, divisions, or amputations in the Body of Christ.
This is one reason that we regularly take communion together. We’re His Body, now. He doesn’t want His Body to be broken anymore – spiritually, physically, or relationally.
By His stripes we are healed.
But what about those of us who Jesus loves and wants to reach but whose bodies are “broken”? Our bodies are not perfect because we live this world. But one day, we, like Jesus will have amazing, perfect bodies that can do
incredible things that we have not even imagined in this life on planet Earth.