The Lord’s Supper, why did Paul say, “… this is my body, which is broken for you?”

Actually, he was referring to the bread.

When you go back and look at the gospel accounts of the Lord’s Supper, you don’t find a reference to Jesus saying that his body was broken.  Matt 26:26 says, “Take, eat; this is my body.”  Mk 14:22 says, “Take, eat: this is my body.”  Lk 22:19 says, “This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.”  Nowhere does he refer to his body being broken for them.  However, in every context the Bible says that he took bread and “brake it.”

Now we know from the scripture that Jesus is our passover.  I Cor 5:7 says, “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.”  John the Baptist introduced Jesus to Israel’s “the Lamb of God,” [Jn 1:29].  Therefore, we can go back to the passover in Ex 12 and see clearly why Jesus didn’t mention anything about his body being broken.  Ex 12:46 says, “In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.”  See also Num 9:12.  When the soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves crucified with Jesus, they did not break his legs.  They pierced him.  In Jn 19:36 we read, “For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.”

So, why does Paul say, in 1 Cor 11:24, “… this is my body, which is broken for you?”  There are at least four reasons.

First, in the Lord’s Supper, “we shew the Lord’s death.”  The Lord’s Supper is a memorial not a sacrifice.  As 1 Cor 11:24 says, “… this do in remembrance of me.”  When we remember the Lord’s death and “shew the Lord’s death till he come,” [1 Cor 11:26], we do it with bread.  This bread is typical of the unleavened bread that was eaten with the passover [Ex 12:8, 14-17].  When Paul referred to Christ as our passover in 1 Cor 5:7, he said, “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.”  Thus, for us to be able to eat from “that one bread,” [1 Cor 10:17], the bread has to be broken.  Paul asked in 1 Cor 10:16, “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”

Second, in the Lord’s Supper, we show our communion.  According to 1 Cor 10:16-17, our communion together is in the body of Christ.  When we get saved, we are all baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ [1 Cor 12:13].  We are all members of his body.  Therefore, Paul says, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?  The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?  For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”  Thus, by breaking the bread out of a common loaf, we show that we are all together in that one body.  Notice in Ex 12:6 that the passover was for “the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel.”

Third, in the Lord’s Supper, we show our separation from the world.  Paul said in 1 Cor 10:20-21, “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.  Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.”  When I was in the Roman Catholic Church, we bowed before the wafer and said to it, “My Lord and my God.”  There is no way that I could ever do that again.  The bread, or the eucharist as the Catholics call it, is not my God.  I am separated from that “table of devils.”  Likewise, when the children of Israel observed the feast of unleavened bread at the passover, they remembered that “this same day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt[a type of the world],” [Ex 12:17].

Fourth, in the Lord’s Supper, we show our desire to win more souls.  No matter what, after bread is broken and blessed by the Lord there is always some left over.  In Matt 14:20, after the feeding of the 5,000, there were 12 baskets of fragments leftover.  There was enough to feed more.  In Matt 15:37, after the feeding of the 4,000, there were 7 baskets leftover.  There was enough to feed more.  When you consider the passover, the Lord instructed the children of Israel in Ex 12:4 that if there were not enough folks in the household for the lamb, then they were to invite their neighbors to join them.  That’s exactly what we in the body of Christ should do.  We should invite our neighbors to get saved by the Lamb of God so that they can partake of the Lord’s Supper with us.  We shouldn’t keep him all to ourselves.

Hope this helps,

Pastor Bevans Welder