Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Broken for You
As the elements were being a passed, a man entered the back of the church. Because he was late, he had missed the passing of the bread and was only in time for the cup. I saw that he was going to miss out on the bread, so I broke my cracker in half and handed half of it to him.
As soon as I had done it, the significance of this struck me.
"While he was eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, 'Take and eat; this is my body.'" (Matthew 26:26)
The broken body of Jesus is what we celebrate when we take the Lord's Supper. It suddenly struck me that, in this specific instance, this fellow church member would not have been able to partake if the bread had not been broken. Then, when I ate the bread, it struck me that the bread could do me no good unless it was further broken. Each bite, each chew, broke it further so that I could consume it.
Similarly, the cup could not benefit me unless it was poured out. It spilled into my mouth when I drank it.
Jesus body and blood cannot benefit us unless his body is broken and his blood is poured out. And in all the passages that chronicle the Lord's Supper, Jesus continually says, "For you."
When I take the Lord's Supper, I find no way around the fact that I am a consumer. You have no bragging rights when you are eating and drinking. The food and liquid do all the work, all the sustaining, all the enlivening. I simply receive. It is humbling. I bring nothing to the table except the ability to consume. There is no pride in benefiting as a consumer.
And you cannot consume food and liquid unless it is broken and poured out.
When I receive Jesus, I am receiving all his benefits. Forgiveness, hope for resurrection, the presence of the Holy Spirit, reconciliation with God and with others. I receive all of these. And I never could benefit from them unless Jesus was broken and poured out. . .for me.
The Lord's Supper is a humbling celebration that parallels what it is like to receive Jesus and respond to him. It is about humbling yourself enough to be a recipient. To celebrate him and his accomplishment, and to lose yourself in that celebration.
This is his body, broken for you. This is his blood, poured out for you.