This Is My Body (Part 3)
We have been talking about human brokenness—how it is all around us (like the water that surrounds a fish in a fishbowl) and how it takes different forms (both physical and spiritual). I have been saying that God, by giving the church the meal known as the Lord’s Supper, is actually holding out to us the solution to our brokenness. But in order to appreciate the solution that the Supper offers us, let us first look at some solutions to brokenness that utterly fail to solve the problem.
There are essentially three ways that people can respond to the brokenness that surrounds them. We can deny that it exists (option 1); we can try to heal ourselves (option 2); or we can look to another to heal us (option 3). Let me show you why the third option is our only hope for healing.
The first way that people respond to their brokenness is to deny that it exists. Atheism does this, as does the religion of Buddhism. When we attempt to deny the existence of brokenness, we essentially say this: “What we need to do is learn to live with our limitations as human beings. We don’t need to try and eliminate death and disease; we need to learn to accept them as a natural part of life. We don’t need to try and keep ourselves from experiencing loss; we need to accept that in this random and godless universe, things come into being and then they disappear. Babies are born, and babies die. Deal with it. Sometimes people live to an old age, but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes young and healthy people become infected with a virus or get hit by a car or get shot by a criminal—this is just the way the world is, and the sooner we can come to terms with that the healthier we will be.”
My only response to this is that we simply cannot live this way. Atheism tells me that I should not weep over the death and destruction all around me, and that I am totally irrational for feeling sad about anything at all. According to this view, I ought to be able to visit a Holocaust Museum and feel nothing. But that’s impossible. No, everything within us cries out for relief from all of this pain. Trying to convince ourselves that pain is an illusion is just nonsense; we know it’s real, and we long to be free from it. So denying our brokenness doesn’t work.
A second way that people respond to brokenness is to try and heal themselves. Most of the world’s religions attempt to solve brokenness this way. This approach says that the answer is to try our hardest to fix ourselves. But do you remember the old nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty? Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the kings horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again. Now, if all the king’s men are unable to pick up the pieces of Humpty’s shattered life and put him back together again, why in the world would we think that Humpty could do it himself? He can’t. It’s just not possible.
The third way we can respond to our brokenness—and, incidentally, the only way that offers any real hope whatsoever—is to look to another to heal us. You see, the reason why the king’s men weren’t able to fix Humpty Dumpty is because they, too, had fallen from the wall and lay on the ground in pieces. It’s not just some of us who are shattered and broken; it’s everybody. And that is why we need someone to come and save us.
And our rescuer has to be a special kind of person. For starters, he can’t himself be broken, can he? Because then he would need his own rescuer before he could come and be ours. Secondly, our potential rescuer must also come near to us in order to to heal and restore us. He can’t just look down on us from a mountaintop, safely quarantined from our pain and suffering. No, he has to come near in order to do us any good. Finally—and this is crucial—our rescuer has to actually swallow up our brokenness and absorb in himself the pain and suffering that plagues us.
Listen—the Bible say that Jesus Christ has fulfilled these requirements perfectly. He is the perfectly unbroken One who has come near in order to swallow up the brokenness that grieves us. And the Bible also says (in Luke 22) that Jesus has given the Lord’s Supper to the church to remind us that he has done exactly that.
Next week we will turn to Luke 22 to see what God is showing us through the Lord’s Supper.