We continue our theme of what's on your chalkboard. Last week, we began to speak about not doing life alone and fellowshipping together, and to follow up, we shared a meal.
I want to talk this week about the importance of the shared meal, and the gathering together around food found in scripture. Then reflect as we celebrate communion together, At the end of this message.
Talking about the importance of our gathering together but even more so, what we do at that gathering.
The title is Breaking Bread and it is a theme of Jesus' broken body, but it speaks of fellowship one with another around the new covenant and sharing in the life of Christ.
We look today at the ancient idea of breaking bread. In the early church, Luke records that they gathered together, in the temple plus broke bread in each other's homes.
”All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.“
Acts 2:44-47 NRSV
The ritual of the breaking of the bread dates back to the time of Moses. on the Sabbath. Twelve loaves were broken. The idea of them being broken was because they weren't allowed to use a knife on the Sabbath. The 12 breads were in the temple at that time, but later on, during the Sabbath, people would break bread in their homes, especially during times when the temple was not available.
Metaphorically bread spoke of sustaining life, Jesus quoting Deuteronomy 8, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, when tempted to turn stones into bread in the wilderness.
To understand New Testament scripture we have to know its context, written predominantly by Jews to a Jewish audience. John's gospel for example revolves around the feast that the Jews celebrated,
However, This morning we begin to look at Jesus breaking bread with his disciples in Luke 22. The essential story we are to understand is the Passover story. Jesus knowing he was to die and rise again shared a last meal or supper with his followers.
We begin and end with the passage from Luke 22
”Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.
This was the most important feast, Passover and a quick thought on why they used unleaved bread, the meal was made in haste as they were to leave Egypt so no time to let the bread rise. But there is more significance
Leaven what it is? Yeast. Leaven is a picture of sin and false doctrine See Gal 5, Matt 6 and Mark 11. Even Paul picks up this theme.
1 Cor 5
”Your boasting is not a good thing. Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.“
1 Corinthians 5:6-8 NRSV
The idea was that before Passover they would clean the house of leaven this is a Spring cleaning theme - that comes from the Jewish Passover
Interestingly they had to clean the house of all the leaven we see after Palm Sunday - Jesus in the temple - the house of prayer.
The Passover lamb was selected and they examined the lamb. Jesus is examined by the Sadducees, Herodians the chief priest and the elders. They found nothing wrong with him, After no one dared ask him questions so they plotted to kill him.
Paul picks up this theme when instructing the Corinthians in the pattern of the Lord's supper. He states we should Examine ourselves, 1 Corinthians 11
Continue our scripture
So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us so that we may eat it.” They asked him, “Where do you want us to make preparations for it?” “Listen,” he said to them, “when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks you, “Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” ’ He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.” So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
This seems like a coincidence but what is interesting here it wasn't often the men who would be carrying water but the women, so this guy would have been easy to spot.
When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly 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.” Then he took a cup, and after giving 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.” Then he took a loaf of 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 he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.“
Luke 22:7-20 NRSV
The Lord’s Supper is an invitation into life. It's coming out of slavery and into freedom. And it’s an invitation that begins in the early pages of the Bible.
The First Meal
In the opening few pages of Genesis, God invites humanity to a dinner. God chooses humans as his ambassadors, inviting them to use their own creative strength and imagination to spread the order and beauty of the garden temple to the rest of creation (Genesis 1:26-28).
The Tree of Life represents God's ultimate gift to creation: the ability to participate in and receive God's own goodness and vitality.
By accepting and eating this meal, humanity is asked to trust and partake in God's free life and wisdom. However, people forfeit access to this feast by choosing to define goodness and life on their own terms, and they are exiled from the garden (Genesis 3:22-24)
As the story progresses, God continues to invite humanity to share in his life through meals. This relationship will compel them to make a decision. Will they define goodness and life in their own terms? Will they receive the true life that God offers?
These meals serve as a way to regularly participate in praise, thanksgiving, remembrance, and repentance. Through years of practice, the feasts help to form the people of Israel into a grateful, believing, and trusting community who shares in God’s goodness and life.
But the Israelites are unfaithful to the covenant. They continually choose false trees of life that lead to self-destruction, exile, and death (2 Kings 21:1-7). And when confronting the Israelites with their false trees of life, God frequently spoke to them in terms of the covenant meals (Isaiah 1:4-6); Isaiah 1:11-14
During this time, Israel’s prophets talked about a day when God would restore the broken covenant despite Israel’s failure (e.g., Jeremiah 31:31)
The prophets called this the new covenant. And God promised that there would come a day when he would gather the nations to himself and fulfil his covenant promises. And guess what he would do? He’d invite them to a meal (Isaiah 25:6-9)and they’d enjoy this meal in his presence, feasting once again on true life.
Around the time of Passover (the feast that retells the Exodus story with a symbolic meal of lamb, unleavened bread, and wine),
Jesus miraculously provides food for a crowd of thousands. This results in people asking him for more bread, and Jesus responds by saying that he is the “true bread,” and that if they “eat from him” they will discover eternal life (e.g. John 6:53-59)
This invitation to eat from him is an invitation to trust him and be transformed by his life (e.g. John 6:5)
Later on, Jesus claimed to be the vine that brings God’s life into the world (see John 15:1, 15:4-5) He says that his disciples are those who “abide” or “remain” in him, like branches connected to a vine. And this abiding will permeate a person’s life⏤healing, transforming, and making them new. Jesus is offering himself as a new tree of life.
Jesus and the Passover
At the Passover meal, Jesus takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and distributes it to his disciples. And he takes a cup of wine, gives thanks (Grk. eucharisteo), and offers it to his disciples. He again connects the bread to his body and the wine to his blood. And he invites his disciples to eat and drink in remembrance of him. In this remembering and giving thanks is the invitation to receive life, just like eating the tree of life.
At this meal, Jesus introduces a new covenant (e.g. Luke 22:20). Through this covenant, God’s eternal life would be made available once again, but this time, it would come through Jesus (e.g. Mark 1:15)
A New Covenant
Jesus was later led to the top of a hill, where Roman soldiers killed him on a different kind of tree⏤a wooden cross (see John 19:16-18). There they broke his body and poured out his blood, thinking they could destroy him with their tree of death. But they underestimated Jesus. They tried to take his life, but they did not realize that Jesus willfully gave it, like giving a sacrificial lamb, to cover the sins of the entire world. This is a new kind of sacrificial lamb that was slain for a new kind of covenant.
John sets this up in his gospel confirming who Jesus is in the light of the Passover lamb.
- John says behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world
- Caiaphas the high priest says one should die for the sins of the world than all the people perish.
- Pilate also says take him and crucify him but I find no guilt in him,
Passover for the Jews was looking back to the story of the Exodus Jesus however uses this meal to look forward. There is another cup which Jesus says he will drink when the kingdom comes
Four cups at Passover there was the cup of blessing, plague redemption and a cup of praise
Jesus took the third cup, which represented the blood of the lamb, after the meal, this was the cup of redemption wine mixed with water saving the fourth for the new heaven and earth.
Note: When his side was pierced blood and water flowed.
This Meal Today
The bread and cup celebrate a new covenant and connect us to a new life source. The power that brought Jesus back from the dead is the same power that can heal the corruption and false trees in our own lives, transforming us into people of truth, beauty, and goodness.
This meal invites us to remember Jesus. It represents to the senses⏤just like the meals God established for the Israelites⏤the life and death of Jesus. This meal is not something we do for Jesus; rather, it reminds us of what Jesus has done for us. And it becomes something we do with Jesus. We participate with him in it.
Close - final thought
The Future Meal
In the early pages of Genesis, humanity is invited to a meal that gives life.
Then, throughout the Bible, meals instructed by God both mark the covenant promises he makes with his people and invite his people to never forget his love and faithfulness toward them. They are to remember the fact that he alone is their true source of life.
And in the final pages of the biblical story, humanity is invited to another meal.
The ongoing and repeated participation in the Lord’s Supper reminds us that, wonderful as it is, this is not the final meal that Jesus has prepared for us. When he returns, Jesus will gather his people from every nation, tribe, and tongue. And they will once again have access to the Tree of Life (Revelation 22:2) He will bring them to the meal that he has prepared for them, and they will enjoy an eternally life-giving meal in his presence (Revelation 19:6-9)
The Lord’s Supper reminds us of the life and work of Jesus, and it marks us as people of his new covenant. And while doing all of this, it also anticipates that final glorious feast.
The meal serves as a taste of what is to come—a taste of true life. As we practice this new covenant meal, may it stir within us hope for his return and thankfulness for who he is and what he has done.
The meal reminds us that We are sinners separated from God and slaves like those in Egypt. But it doesn't stop there as One day we will feast with him because of the blood of the lamb.
We are to take today from the bread of life and we break bread together, and we take of the cup of the new covenant. John 13 records that at this meal Jesus washes his disciple's feet.
”Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfil the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”
John 13:1-20 NRSV
We are to examine ourselves as Paul writes, do we have dirty feet? We have been cleansed washed and forgiven already, but because of our humanity, we walk on a dusty earth. The dust on our feet represents our humanity. The part that touches the ground, (from where we came) Jesus in a stroke of humility and genius washed his disciple's feet and encouraged us to do likewise, no one is greater than another.
Let's share communion together.
”Then he took a cup, and after giving 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.” Then he took a loaf of 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 he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.“
Luke 22:17-20 NRSV