I heard a message on Communion this morning. In it, the speaker got me confused, or, rather, I got myself confused. The passage in 1 Corinthians 11 says, “This is my body, which is broken for you … ” But the speaker pointed out that Jesus Christ’s body was not broken. “Not a bone of Him shall be broken … ” says John 19:33. This was echoing the part of the law that said the bones of the Passover Lamb should not be broken. And Jesus did not have His legs broken as was commonly done to crucified prisoners to speed their deaths.
The speaker said something I didn’t quite understand, and I am not quoting him, just meditating on what he might have meant and what I concluded about this concept. I gathered that he thought of the broken communion bread as symbolizing the “spreading around of Jesus.” At first I thought that was very weird. I thought he might be talking about Jesus’ love being shared with all mankind.
That’s a good thought, but I am a little burned out on the “Just let Jesus love you and everything will be okay,” cultural invitation so common today that doesn’t include repentance or calling sin “sin.” Again, I’m not saying that was what the speaker meant, just what popped into my head as I started to think about the meaning of the passage.
I got to thinking that this imagery in Communion might actually be pretty easy to understand, as I meditated on it some more. The events of the feeding of the four and five thousand in the gospels came to mind. Jesus not only broke up the bread that was there, He passed it out and made it miraculously multiply to be enough to feed those thousands of people. There were leftovers, even.
This was physical food, but the metaphor using physical bread to represent spiritual food is common in Jesus’ teachings. He said He was the Bread of Life. So when He said “broken,” at the Last Supper, which we partly reenact in Communion, perhaps He meant that He is spread out and multiplied — His love, His atonement, His grace, His holiness, His power — all His attributes, are spread out and multiplied to humans. He is there in each one of us, cleansing us from sin, giving us mercy and grace, bringing the Holy Spirit to indwell us, sufficient for all our spiritual needs. He shares Himself around to all of us, and there is more than enough.