Today, Christians around the world will remember Jesus’ “Last Supper.” Whether it be through a special Maundy Thursday service, or merely through their individual thoughts on the passion week, it is a time to reflect.
Paul offers us these words,
“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night 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.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood;do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11: 23-26).”
The bread of the communion service or Eucharist is a central focus of Christian belief and worship. It unites all Christians in “communion” with God and each other. This simple act of breaking and sharing bread links us as believers to one another, to Jesus as our Lord, and even to Christianity’s Hebrew roots.
Jesus took the bread, and in the Jewish fashion blessed it and gave thanks, perhaps with the words: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, hamotzi lehem min ha’aretz. He then broke it and told the disciples that it represented His body which was to be broken, and to eat it in remembrance of Him. The bread (seen to be linked to Passover) would have been unleavened for the festival. It was baked un-risen to remember and mark the fact of the Jew’s hurried departure from bondage in Egypt. It was a symbol of emancipation – they were now free.
Jesus in His words to the disciples transforms the symbol. No longer will the bread merely be for physical nourishment, nor was it to be a Passover loaf linked to temporal freedom. He said, that believers would be partaking of Him, and His sacrifice. He would be our new “Bread of Life.” We are indeed to be free, a freedom from death and sin. True freedom! This new loaf, in Jesus’ broken body, is unlike the Passover bread. It did not remain “un-risen!” Hallelujah.