This is my body

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Matthew 26:26-29; 1 Corinthians 10:14-17

The mission of Christ’s life was His death.  It was His ‘glory’, or His ‘hour’ as He kept calling it.  And on the night before He died He instituted a meal to commemorate this central act of His coming.

Incredibly, Jesus did not mainly set Himself forth as the Host of this meal (although He is – it’s the Lord’s supper after all).  But more fundamentally, Jesus offers Himself as the main course.

He takes bread, gives thanks, breaks it and gives it to His disciples saying “This is my body.”  (Matthew 26:26).

The meaning of His death is contained in this little phrase.  Jesus, torn apart like bread, is given that we might live.  He is devoured, that we might be fed.  He is broken that we might be nourished.

To be eaten up is a common way of speaking about death.  For instance, the Psalmist speaks of his deadly foes like this:

“When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.”  (Psalm 27:2)

When a person eats the flesh of another they take advantage of their death.  And so Jesus wants us to do with His death.  He wants us to take advantage of His sacrifice.  In fact the Old Testament sacrifices were eaten after they were killed.  First they turned away wrath, then they nourished and provided an occasion for fellowship.  The Passover Lamb was the same – first its blood shielded from judgement, then it sustained the people for their journey out of Egypt.

And so it is with Jesus.  He is our propitiation and our fellowship meal.  He’s given for us as our atoning sacrifice and given to us as our ongoing sustenance.  Jesus really is the Bread of life.  And it’s His death that brings us life.

Think of a loaf torn apart and handed to you.  Freely offered.  Life-giving.  Hunger-satisfying.  Fellowship-creating.  Generous.  Nourishing.  Available.  That is Jesus for you.  Because of His once-for-all death on that Friday, He says to us today:

“This is my body which is given for you.”  (Luke 22:19)

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