Thursday, 20 November 2014
…and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24
Paul continues with words of instruction concerning the Lord’s Supper which he received from the Lord. On the night of His betrayal, He took bread and then gave thanks over it. A common form of thanks at such a time as this would have been –
“Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.”
This then is a picture of the coming resurrection of Christ. Though the Bread of Life would be laid in the tomb, He would come forth from the earth in victory. The term “had given thanks” is the Greek word eucharistesas, from which we derive the term Eucharist. Thus this is often called such. After the Eurcharist, “He broke it.” Bengel comments on this,
“The very mention of the breaking involves distribution and refutes the Corinthian plan – every man his own.”
In other words, he is showing that the breaking of the bread implies parceling it out to all attendees. This is set in contrast to the improper attitude mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:21 which said, “For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.”
Next, after breaking the bread, the Lord instructed them to “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you.” If nothing else (and there is more, but not as biblically explicit), these words show that the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is not only wrong, it isn’t even well thought out. This teaching says that the elements given by the priests of the Roman Catholic Church literally become the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. In essence, one is literally eating His flesh each time that they take of the Communion. This is also similar to the doctrine of the Lutheran Church which teaches consubstantiation. It is similar to, but not quite the same as, the Roman Catholic teaching.
In refutation of this, Benson wisely notes the following –
“As the clause, which is broken, cannot be taken literally, because it would imply that Christ’s body was broken, or put to death on the cross, at the time he said this, contrary to truth; so the clause, this is my body, cannot be taken literally: for the two clauses making but one proposition, if the clause, this is my body, which is the subject of the proposition, be interpreted literally, the predicate, which is broken for you, must be so likewise. Consequently the proposition will import, that the bread in our Lord’s hands was converted into a thing which at that time had no existence.”
Said differently, if the bread is literally His body, then how could he hold it in His hands and say “This is My body?” Likewise, in breaking it, His own body would have then been broken at that time. Neither was the case. Rather, He was showing that the elements are symbolic representations of His body and blood, not the actual elements.
In closing this portion of the instruction, Paul finishes with, “do this in remembrance of Me.” The word “do” is poieie. It means “be doing” or “continue doing.” It is to be a common, continual practice when the church comes together. There is nothing wrong, and everything right, with continuing in this practice at every gathering. After all, it is in remembrance of the Lord Jesus which is the very purpose of gathering together in the first place.
Life application: The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic remembrance of the work of the Lord. Be sure to participate in it as often as your church holds it. And if they don’t hold it often, then show them the words of the Lord. What is frequently treated as an inconvenient side issue is actually the heart of where our faith and practice should lie.
Heavenly Father, I want to thank You today for the greatest Gift of all. It is what all of Scripture points to and it is the highlight of all ages. Thank You for the giving of Your Son in order to redeem us. Thank You for His perfection, His merciful kindness, and His grace towards us. Thank You for His atoning sacrifice at the cross of Calvary. And thank You God that He was found faithful in His work and sinless in His being. Death could not hold Him and He arose. Praise You, O God! He arose! Thank You for the resurrection which guarantees that I will rise as well. Hallelujah and Amen!