This past Sunday we celebrated Communion at my church. Our pastor spoke of unity in the church as well as in the Church (all believers). He made a comment in passing that struck a cord in my heart as he mentioned that Christ Jesus is the Bread of Life. Like I said, he made this remark in passing and so did not go where I am about to go with this idea about Communion..
First let me say that Communion/The Lord’s Supper does commemorate Jesus’ passion and the Cross which ushers in the new Covenant between Him and all believers. That is not in question. The thing is though, that Jesus is referred to by His disciples in the Bible as a teacher. He was also a Jew. More than that He is God. To my thinking, that makes Jesus the model teacher whose teaching style has a Jewish flare.
Take Passover for instance. The idea was to remember the Passover feast by eating unleavened bread, standing up prepared to travel. Also a the Seder meal; the flavors and textures affect the senses to bring home the story and create a multi-dimensional learning experience. It’s a tangible means of devouring God’s Word.
Jesus utilizes this tradition and creates a new thing in the Lord’s Supper. “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”” (Matthew 26:26). Just as John 3:16 is one sentence with genius in every word, here too we see meaning in everything our Lord says and does. He met His disciples where they were and in what they were doing. He blessed the bread. He divided the bread, then Jesus said that the bread that they were passing to one another was His Body. Jesus taught that he is the Bread of Life in John Chapter 6 comparing Himself to true manna and connecting Himself to true faith and everlasting life. He even quotes Scripture to equate Himself to God. As we are remembering Scripture, let’s not forget the thesis statement of John’s Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word.” (John 1:1) Scripture interprets Scripture when rightly divided.
All this blew through my head as Pastor was speaking and I sat there wondering why I had never heard this explained like this before. The bread of Communion also represents the Word, The Bible, Scripture. It is blessed by God and when prayerfully studied, Jesus divides it for the faithful reader so that it can be symbolically eaten to become part of one’s very being!
After they had eaten, Jesus passes the cup of wine to His disciples, telling them that this is His blood being poured out to be a New Covenant. Obviously, this a reference to the cross where the New Covenant begins but remember, Jesus’ doesn’t stay on the cross, nor should we. He rises to new life and so should we. What I mean by that is that just as blood in the Old Testament is seen as the essence of life, so is Jesus’ blood new life to those who believe. It represents the Holy Spirit.
What Jesus is doing here is telling His disciples how the His Church is to find Unity/Communion. Sure, by sharing a common ritual that reminds us of His redeeming Passion. But more practically, by faithfully and prayerfully studying His Holy Word, the Bible and Holy Spirit empowered prayer. I’m not just talking about praying in tongues, I’m talking about knowing that the Holy Spirit is right here with us, and that the Holy Spirit is the same Spirit that connects all true believers in Christ. Christ’s spirit and His Word are what unifies His Church. We all need to spend more time in the Word and more time in fervent prayer. I submit that those are the times in which the Church is unified. Just as the bread and the wine are combined as we partake of them, so must the Word and the Spirit be intertwined as we study and pray. Study ought to be enacted prayer and prayer ought to rise out of our studies.
You may also like The Passion of Christ (chirstophercrandolph.wordpress.com)