In Living We Die, In Dying We Live

(One of my IHOPU classes, Basic Christian Beliefs, is giving the assignment of blogging on certain questions from the lessons every week. This week, I’m choosing the question “Why should Christians break bread together?”)

On the night before His death, Jesus acted out a picture of what He was about to do.

Don’t just read the verses. Enter into the quiet, sacred drama of the moment. Let it take your breath away.

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

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.”

And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

~Luke 22:14-20

This is one of the sacraments or ordinances that the Church has practiced together for generations. Jesus left us this tangible reenactment to keep His death fresh in our minds. When we come to the table, we come in humility, as a family of grace, each repenting of our sins and thanking Jesus again for His body and blood that were sacrificed for us.

This partaking of the bread and wine together is about many things, but at its core it is about embracing death in order to receive life. Consider this episode from earlier in Jesus’ ministry:

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” …After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.

~John 6:53-60, 66

This kind of talk is confusing and offensive! Jesus clearly wasn’t trying to “win friends and influence people” here. He was inviting people into the experience of embracing His death and making His death a part of them. He wants us so closely identified with His death that we are willing to “eat His flesh and drink His blood.” He wants His death entwined into our DNA.

Paul said that baptism represents the same reality.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

~Romans 6:3-5

Again, life and death and death and life, all wrapped up in each other. Ted Dekker explored this theme in his novel When Heaven Weeps. “The path to life runs through death… In living we die, in dying we live.”

Paul actually said that when we take the bread and the cup, we “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26) He was warning the believers in Corinth about taking the Lord’s supper lightly, as merely a chance to eat and drink, without showing concern for one another and without repenting. This is not church snack time. This is a holy reenactment of the most scandalous, tragic, glorious event in history. GOD DIED. He had a body and it was ripped to shreds while blood gushed out. He was mocked, beaten, nailed to a tree, and died in agony.

“Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
~Matthew 26:27-28

When we take communion or “break bread” together as a family, we are corporately reidentifying ourselves with the death of Christ. His blood cleanses us, His suffering heals us, and His death brings us to life.

How dare we ever for a moment forget.


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