This Is My Body (Part 4)
The Lord’s Supper is the meal Jesus gave to the church, in which he shows us in vivid pictures how he sacrificed himself for us. This word picture is important, because it is what sets the Supper apart from simple verbal proclamation of the gospel. When we take the Lord’s Supper, God isn’t just telling us how he gave his Son up for us—he showing us that he did it. So over the next few weeks I want to examine Luke 22 and see three pictures that God paints for us when we take the Lord’s Supper.
First, in the Lord’s Supper we see a picture of Christ’s suffering. In Luke 22:15, before Jesus offers the bread and the wine to his disciples, he says, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” Jesus says that he is about to suffer (in less than 24 hours he will be crucified), and the bread and wine they are about to eat and drink are representative of Jesus’ soon-to-be-broken body and soon-to-be-spilled blood.
Now, the fact that Jesus can say, “I will suffer” is truly remarkable. Remember that Jesus is the Son of God who took on human flesh, and that prior to coming down to be born as a human being, the Son of God did not ever suffer because he lived in heaven which is not corrupted by death, decay, loss, or evil. The Son of God was totally immune from the kinds of suffering we experience on a daily basis, because he lives high above us in heaven. The only way that the Son of God could suffer is by entering our world and becoming one of us. Which is precisely what he did.
Jesus did not live his life among us in a protective bubble. He experienced hunger and thirst, loneliness, loss, betrayal, abandonment by his friends, and extreme pain. He is neither ignorant of nor indifferent to our sufferings. Sometimes when we are suffering we are tempted to say, “Where is God?”, as if our pain created a barrier between us and God that he cannot cross. But Jesus was a “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” He knows what our suffering is like because he, too, suffered and experienced grief.
Of course, in Luke 22:15, when Jesus says he is about to suffer he is not talking about suffering in a general sense. He is talking about the cross. Crucifixion is probably the most brutal form of execution ever invented. Jewish historian Josephus called it “the most wretched of deaths.” One Roman lawyer in Jesus’ day ranked Rome’s most severe forms of execution—which he called “Supreme Penalties”—and placed crucifixion at the top of the list, above beheading and being burned alive.
So Jesus certainly suffered for us, on a level far beyond any of us can even imagine. And the Lord’s Supper portrays that suffering for us vividly. Just as grain must be crushed and broken in order to make bread, and grapes must be crushed in order make wine, so our Savior had to be crushed in order to bring us salvation. The very bread and wine (or juice) that we take in the Supper came to us through a process of destruction and crushing—which makes them a perfect way to picture Christ’s suffering on our behalf.
Next week we will look at the second picture that God paints for us in the Supper.