Restored in Christ: Broken Bread, Matthew 26:26

 

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”

Matthew 26:26

 

These words of our Lord, if left by themselves, seem quite incomplete. We’re used to hearing these words together with others. “Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’” (Matthew 26:27-28)

Or, in the words of St. Paul the apostle, and closer to the words of our Lord spoken as the pastor consecrates the elements for distribution at the Lord’s Supper, “The Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me’” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25).

By themselves, the words of our Lord, “Take, eat; this is my body,” in addition to sounding incomplete, are impossible to grasp according to our reason. They don’t seem to make sense. The words, well, they don’t seem to match up. We understand the grammar of the words, of course, but the meaning…How can Jesus say, “Take eat, this is my body,” when it’s bread that He is giving? And if it’s only bread that He’s giving, why does He say that the bread is His My body?

According to His very own words, Jesus, in fact, means just what He says. The bread, which Jesus was giving to His disciples, was His very own body—not symbolizes, not signifies, not represents, but is. And Jesus is not speaking in a spiritual sense, either.

The meaning of Jesus giving the bread to His disciples and saying, “This is My body,” along with His giving of the cup, the wine, to the same disciples and saying, “Take, drink, this is My blood,” are full of significance, import, and life. They are Jesus’ words, not man-made, and therefore, they carry weight and authority, the authority of God, because Jesus is God incarnate, God in the flesh.

But what do they mean?

For Jesus’ disciples, Jesus’ Words meant that the Passover, the Feast of the Passover, which had been celebrated by God’s people for generations, was now finding its fulfillment. The Feast of the Passover was celebrated in remembrance of the time when God passed over His people in Egypt whose house lintels and door posts were covered with the blood of the lamb.

But the first born of the Egyptians whose homes were not covered with the blood of the lamb died. This was according to the Word of the Lord, “I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance” (Exodus 12:12-14)…“And it came to pass at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock. So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead” (Exodus 12:29-30)

According to the Lord’s Word, the firstborn of the Egyptians died. As God spoke, so it came to pass. And though this truth might seem cruel and unusual to our 21st century ears, it was only after this last plague (of 10) that the Egyptian King Pharaoh freed the children of Israel from their bondage and slavery in Egypt.

It was through the death of the firstborn that God delivered His people from their hardship, saving them from their enemies. Thus, afterwards, after the Lord’s Passover, the people left Egypt for the promised land. The Exodus, the going out, the being delivered.

This is what the Passover meant for the people of God in Moses’ day. This is why generation to generation celebrated this feast. It was a memorial feast of God’s deliverance.

But from the moment of Christ’s Institution of the Lord’s Supper, the fulfillment of the Passover Feast had come, for the Passover pointed to Jesus, the very “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

In the first Passover, a lamb had been slain, and with its blood, the children of God covered the entrance of their houses that they be protected from God’s righteous judgment against the godless. Now, Jesus was going to shed His own blood, to cover sinners and shield them from God’s righteous judgment.

Then, God slew the firstborn of the Egyptians. There, God made a distinction between those who were not His people from those who were. Now, God the Father was going to slay His only begotten Son. He was going to make a distinction between the righteous and the godless by crucifying the righteous One, that the firstborn Son take the place of the godless, that the godless be saved through His death.

Then, only after the 10th plague, the slaying of the firstborn, only then, did Pharaoh release God’s people from slavery, that they journey towards the land of promise. Now, Jesus was going to free sinners from death and hell by means of His own death, by bearing the sins of the world upon Himself.

“Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 35:5-6)

Jesus was “broken”, for you. “He (that is, God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus, in your stead, means your wholeness and sure peace with God (Romans 5:1). Jesus, in your stead, means that you are no longer severed from God’s love, His kindness, or His favor. Rather, do you have these, totally and completely, in Christ.

If you want to know whether God is for you or against you, or if you want to be sure that God is favorable towards you, look to Christ, believe His Word of absolution, partake frequently of the Lord’s Supper for the forgiveness of sins, and for the strengthening of your faith. Believe and do not doubt that Christ is your salvation, that He is your peace with God, and that Christ alone is your hope, your help, and your life. Amen.

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What do Lutherans believe about the Lord’s Supper?

The Lord’s Supper, a sacrament, is Christ’s very body and blood, “under the bread and wine,” given and shed for the forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:26-28; Mk. 14:22-24; Lk. 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 10:16; 11:23-26).  It is a “means of grace,” through which God gives “forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.”

Though it is a gift, it can be take to one’s judgment (1 Cor. 11:27-29).  Out of love for the Lord and His Word and concern and for those who partake of the Lord’s Supper, Lutheran’s practice close(d) communion, communing only with those who hold the same confession of faith, for the Lord’s Supper is also an expression of the unity in doctrine (faith) confessed at the altar.

Meal of Salvation

These Words of Christ in which He instituted the sacred meal are the very Words of our Lord on the night that He was betrayed. On that night, Jesus held what is called the ‘Last Supper’ with His disciples. But that ‘Last Supper’ is not ‘Last’ for us. Our Lord says, As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26).

The meal in which we partake of Christ’s very body and blood is a proclamation of the Lord’s death till He comes again in His glory. It is a meal of remembrance. It is also a meal in which the Lord Himself distributes what only He Himself gives. Though the eyes see one thing, the ears hear another. We see bread and wine, but the Lord says that more is going on than meets the eye. The Lord would have us believe what He says. This is how one eats and drinks the true body and blood of our Lord worthily, by faith in the very Words that the Lord speaks.

Though your eyes and reason say something different, believe what God speaks in His Word, and His promises are yours, even the forgiveness of all your sins. You might not understand it, but that’s ok. The Lord would not have you to understand it. He would have you believe it, not according to your eyes, but according to His Word. This is where true confidence and lasting peace are found…

2011MTSermon.Matthew 26.17-30.pdf

“The Word of God and the Work of the Pastor”

In a recent survey, entitled, “US Religious Knowledge Survey” from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, several revealing findings surfaced. Although the findings might not be surprising in the current zeitgeist (spirit) of the times, they do give a jarring dose of reality to any who would consider Christendom, and Christians in general, to be as healthy and strong as they might think themselves to be.

The sampling of the survey was only over 3400. It’s findings, of course, are limited. But at the same time, these can be helpful for us, not only for indicating where Christendom as a whole might be. They can also impress upon us the need for self-reflection and self-evaluation of where we stand, and why.

One editor in the Wisconsin State Journal began his column about the survey with these words, “Say this about American Christians: We hold our beliefs dear and will defend them to the death. Now, if only someone would tell us what they are”(Wed, Oct 6, 2010).

The same editor had also written that, “Pew research has found about 60 percent of American adults say religion is “very important” in their lives.” Then he comments, “But not important enough to learn much about, apparently.” In addition, he also wrote, “If only American Christians would spend as much time researching religion as they do spouting off their opinions about it.”

Generally speaking, I think this editor is quite correct in at least these comments. Americans, as a whole, talk a lot about religion (and an increasing amount about spirituality), but they talk a lot about what they seem to know little about.

For the most part, it seems, quite a few are just plain ignorant (they just don’t know, or care) about the teachings of the Bible, let alone the teachings of the particular Christian denomination they claim to be a member of…

2Tim3.14-4.5, Pentecost 21, 2010C.pdf

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