This Is My Body (Part 5)
We have been talking about the Lord’s Supper—the meal Jesus gave to the church, in which he shows us in vivid pictures how he sacrificed himself for us. When we take the Lord’s Supper, God is showing us how he gave his Son up for us. Last week we began looking at Luke 22 to see the various pictures that God paints for us in the Lord’s Supper, and I said that in the Supper we see a picture of Christ’s suffering.
The second picture we find is this: in the Lord’s Supper, we see a picture of Christ broken on our behalf. Luke 22:19 describes the scene where Jesus breaks bread and gives it to his disciples:
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Now, to really appreciate the symbolism here, we need to remember that the meal which Jesus is eating with his disciples is the Passover meal (see Luke 22:15). What is the Passover? It is a memorial of an event which occurred 1500 years before, called the Exodus, when God rescued his people (Israel) from slavery in Egypt. God sent a messenger (Moses) to demand that his people be set free from bondage, and when the Egyptian king refused, God sent a series of plagues to judge the Egyptians for their defiance. The final plague was the death of the firstborn son in every household in Egypt—every household, that is, except for the Israelites’. Before sending this final plague, God instructed his people to sacrifice a lamb in place of the firstborn son and to put some of its blood on the front of their house, so that the plague would “pass over” them and the firstborn son would be spared. The Egyptian king finally let the nation of Israel go free, and God led them out to a mountain where he made a covenant (or agreement) with them. In this covenant, God stated, “If you will obey my voice, then you will be my treasured possession.”
This Exodus event was a defining moment for the nation of Israel, and every year they would re-enact what had happened by killing a lamb and re-telling the story of how God had saved them from slavery in Egypt. And it is this meal—this re-enactment of the Exodus called the “Passover”—that Jesus chooses to transform into the Lord’s Supper.
He does this to show us that he is the greater sacrifice that the Passover sacrificial lamb had been pointing to. Just as the lamb had been slaughtered as a substitute for the firstborn son, so Jesus was now going to be slaughtered as a substitute for all who would believe in him for salvation.
This is why Jesus says the words, “This is my body, which is given for you.” Jesus’ body is not just broken. It is broken for us. And the broken bread of the Lord’s Supper is intended to remind us of that truth—that Jesus died as a substitute for us.
Next week we will look at the third picture that God paints for us in the Supper.