30.1.08

Unbreakable

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (1Co 11:23-24)

But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” (Jn 19:33-35)

When we break bread we remember the Lord. We remember his sacrificial and substitutionary death which is the means of our life. We remember his resurrection from the dead, and his victory over the curse of sin and death - that every power of the enemy is broken and every blessing of the New Covenant secured. We remember his ascension in glory to the Father's side - where he has the name that is above every name - all power and authority and dominion are his - from where he continues to pour out his Holy Spirit who gives us the power to continue to do and to teach the things that he himself begun. And we remember that he is coming again from heaven in glory, to claim his spotless bride and take possession of his kingdom come in all its fullness.

When we break bread, we also discern the body of Christ. That is we recognise that the New Covenant we are in is not just vertical but horizontal. We are one body in Christ. We recognise and remember that we are members one of another. No one existing purely for themselves and their relationship with the Lord. But each outworking that relationship within the body where God has arranged each member as he has seen fit. Each with a unique gift given for the common good.

When we break bread, we do not just remember - we receive. It is a means of grace to us through which the very blessings represented are also imparted. It is a table of abundant provision and a cup of blessing.

The breaking of bread, which represents Christ's body, is highly significant. It may seem surprising then to note that the Scriptures make much of the fact that Jesus' body was not broken! It was bruised, crushed, pierced, striped, afflicted - but never broken. You might have thought that because the breaking of bread would be so central to the New Covenant community that the Father would have allowed his Son to be broken in order to cement the connection further - but we are told that quite the opposite is the case. It was necessary, to fulfil the revealed will of God, that his body was not broken.

You see, many things were broken on the cross, but our Lord was not one of them!! The power of sin and death - broken. The authority of Satan - broken. The hold of the curse - broken. The barrier between God and man - forever torn and broken down. But Jesus himself was unbroken - even in death. He was the victor not the victim, the wrecking ball demolishing every stronghold. He took upon himself the full fury of the enemy, and even the very wrath of God that was rightfully ours - yet in it all... unbroken! victorious! triumphant!

When we consider the cross, let us never see Jesus as a pale broken figure. An object of our pity and remorse. The cross we have is empty. Jesus went through the cross to the victory on the other side that we might do the same. We have a triumphant unbroken saviour.

Jesus' body was broken only in as much as it was deliberately surrendered over to death for us. His life was laid down, it was never taken - he could have at any moment summoned many legions of angels and come down from the cross. He was never broken by anyone or anything.

It was not the nails that held Jesus to that cross, but his submission to his Father's will, and his unbreakable love for you and me. The same unbreakable love that reaches out to you today.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

"It is a means of grace to us through which the very blessings represented are also imparted."
Sacraments aye? How exactly do you mean? Through remembrance? Through obedience? And while his bones may not have been broken, his body was, at least in my translation of the verse you read. I disagree slightly, in that he was both victor and victim, he took all our weaknesses and still conquered because the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. But its true that the crucifix does not obviously represent that. J.I. Packer said that focus on an actual crucifix in worship can be idolatry because of how it hides Gods nature, and leads to a morbid fascination with the pain element. I thought that an interesting idea in light of "the passion of the Christ". I'm not sure I follow all his ideas on idolatry, but to me the ultimate focus for worship must be the actual Jesus who is actually with us! Not some icon or statue that suggests he is far away.
I'm so with you on the ascension though, praise God for his victory!

Chris HH said...

Praise God for his victory, indeed!

Thanks anonymous for your comments, and please don't think you have to remain anonymous because you disagree on some points. I welcome all intelligent and constructive debate here.

I think it is a question of emphasis. I don't doubt that Christ was broken for us, nor am I saying it's wrong to say that when we break bread. I've done so myself many times... But I was struck by the emphasis in the Gospel accounts that his bones were not broken. It challenged me to rethink my own emphasis, on the brokenness verses the unbrokenness of Christ. Apart from a footnote in this one verse there is nowhere else in all the word that speaks of Christ being "broken."

If at any point what we teach or even if what we emphasise is different to what we find on closer inspection in the word, then its not the word that has it wrong!

Regarding how the sacraments are effective towards us, the answer is (as with so many other things) by grace, through faith, in the Spirit.

SLW said...

Chris,
Some interesting thoughts. I would say you're on to something in seeing an emphasis on brokenness, and by extension victimhood, as amiss (since his bones were not broken); however, is not the brokenness of the Lord's Supper a distributive property of the meal rather than a symbol of the actual condition of his bones? Brokenness is but the means by which the community of faith shares his one sacrifice (loaf). For bread to be shared, it must be broken. That I think makes a better connection to the 1 Corinthians 11 warnings and the body of Christ imagery that follows in the next chapter that you alluded to. It is wondrous that breaking him into pieces so that each may partake in effect causes each that partakes to be united together in him.

Thanks for the always thought provoking.

Richard Bentall said...

Chris

With Christ being the substitutionary Lamb have a look at this,

Genesis 22:8 - God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.

Exodus 12:5 - Your lamb shall be without blemish.

Isaiah 53:7 - He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth.

John 1:29 - Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

1 Peter 1:18-19 - You were redeemed...with the precious blood of Christ, a Lamb without blemish or defect.

Revelation 5:6 - Then I saw a Lamb, looking as it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne

Notice the progression, from provision and plan to rule and reign.

Have a great day

Richard