"Take This Body..."
With Easter being so much on our minds, my thoughts turn to the Last Supper and its meaning for us. More specifically, how are we to understand what Jesus meant when "He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me,' " a Bible verse taken from Luke 22:19. It would seem obvious that since Jesus gave His body on the cross that very next day, what Jesus said can be taken as a two part statement. In the first part of His words, He was referring to His body as Peter wrote in his epistle: "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." The second part of what Jesus said would pertain to what we do today at communion, in remembrance of Him. But what exactly do Scriptures tell us as the significant meaning behind Jesus' words?
Looking closely at John, chapters four through six, we gain these significant insights. Here, Jesus made some very picturesque statements in an attempt to make us understand the importance of believing in Him. We also see that His words often are spoken in spiritual meanings, not to be taken as literal meanings. For instance, after Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well, His disciples brought food to Him saying "Master eat." to which Jesus replied, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about." Now if we take His words literally, we'd have to wonder if He had a hidden cheeseburger under His robe. But two verses later, we are given the meaning of His words: "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work." Likewise in John chapter six, Jesus speaks in the same manner in verse 35 : "Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty....' " verse 51 "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.' " .... verse 54 "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" and finally verse 58. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." These verses cannot be taken literally because Christians today get hungry and thirsty daily, and one only needs to look at the obituaries to see that Christians die. Thankfully, Jesus again doesn't leave us wondering because in verse 63, He says, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life."
If we take these verses, we can benefit further if we add the insights given in Matthew 15: 11 and 17 where Jesus states that what goes into the mouth cannot defile anyone, because it passes through the body, but rather it is what comes from the heart that defiles a person. (Naturally this applies to what enters the mouth can't make one holy either.)
Fortunately, we also have in Acts 7:48 and 17:24 where we see the Bible clearly telling us that, "... the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands." If the words that Jesus spoke a the Last Supper meant that the bread was literally becoming His Body, then these verses, as well as the many verses that tell us that Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father would also have to be discarded.
What is the true meaning behind the words spoken at the Last Supper and what we do at communion today? Like all of Scriptures, it isn't what we do that counts, but rather it points to the Finished work of Jesus Christ Crucified. In truth, what we celebrate today at communion is simply done totally to reflect upon what Jesus did at Calvary, to be done in remembrance of Him. And thus, we too can shout the same feelings as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2 - "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. " So this Easter when we partake in communion, let's not sin by making the same mistakes that Paul referred to in Romans 1:25: They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-- who is forever praised. Amen. " But we rather should give to glory to Jesus Christ and what HE did 2000 years ago with His death and resurrection - which really is the importance of Easter Weekend.