Communion or The Lord’s Supper is an essential part of worship for the Christian faith. With the practice comes the remembrance of Christ and His substitutionary atonement for us on the Cross of Calvary.
Yet often, when I attend churches or chapels of various denominational beliefs, I hear pastors get one phrase wrong. Often they hold up the bread that relates to the Body of Christ and says, “This bread is the body of Christ ‘broken’ for you. Eat and do this in remembrance of me.” While we have become accustomed to the phrase, it is Biblically wrong, and there is a better phrase to use to build up our worship towards Jesus.
Quickly, we say “broken” because it has become a habit. Yes, there are theatrics when explaining Communion/The Lord’s Supper to congregations. As a result, when ministers either break a cracker or tear apart the bread, both are being “broken” apart. However, “broken” is not what scripture says of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The problem with the phrase is with the word “broken.” See, Jesus’ body and bones never broke for us. Otherwise, we worship a Savior who didn’t fulfill scripture. Look at Psalm 34:20. There the David writes,
“He protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.”
The text states that “no bone in his body would be…broken.” Not only does David quote it in the Psalm, but John later repeats it in his Gospel in John 19:36,
“These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken.'”
Even, Isaiah 53:5 further states that:
“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds, we are healed.”
But, “pierced” is not the same as “broken.” Neither is “crushed.” The term “wounds” does not automatically equate to the concept of being “broken.” Each word could mean “broken,” but they could equally say something else too.
Furthermore, when Jesus described the Passover Meal that alludes to the Cross, He doesn’t even use the word “broken.” He uses another word: “given,” as found in Luke 22:19. Across the other three Gospels, Jesus broke the bread and said, “take it; this is my body!’ Sure, one can allude that broken applies to both bread and body, but that is not the truth. Therefore using the word broken during our Communion/Lord’s Supper practices misses the mark.
Now some will argue that I need to look at the spirit of what is being said by ministers. They might also suggest that words are what we make them mean. As a result, “broken” is a way to say that Jesus sacrificed His life and that preachers who use the word “broken” are using it metaphorically and not literally. Yes, there is some truth to these arguments that I do not dismiss, but knowing and using the right phrase is important because it makes our worship more meaningful.
Before reading this post, you may have never considered a minister’s use of the word “broken” before. If so, you are normal because most have not. However, now you are thinking about the word usage, whereas before, you did not. If so, then one has to ask, what is the appropriate word to use in replace of “broken?” Simple: “given” as Luke 22:19 instructs.
Here is where focusing on one word within theology matters. Jesus’ body and life were not “broken” for you because His life was “given” for you. No one, not even Satan, took His life from Him. No one forced His body to break. Instead, He went to the Cross voluntarily for our sins because of His great love for us. That through His sacrifice, we might die to our sins and live afresh and anew as He lives resurrected today. All of what Christ did for us and what we experience start with His free will and loving choice that He “gave” His life and body for us.
By now, I hope you see the difference. Christ’s body was not “broken” because He “gave” it up for us. Broken implies that His life was stolen from His will when it was not. Broken subconsciously communicates that we are forgiven in Christ as a second-order impact of His death on the Cross. Yet, the Bible teaches that the Cross was the Triune God’s ultimate and final solution to the separation between humanity and a Holy God. The choice was one made before the beginning of time and one that was freely given based on God’s longterm plan. The Cross is foreshadowed in the Exodus Passover, The Law, and even Jesus’ Last Supper His disciples. The Cross was, is, and forever will be the answer to the cosmos’ most significant problem because, in a “given” Christ, it finished the work of God once and for all!
Given then reminds us that we are God’s children, not by chance, or by recycling Jesus’ death into something unintended. No, we are “so loved” that our Lord and Savior gave Himself for us that we might live with Him forever, for those who genuinely believe.
Sure, it’s easy to dismiss my comments as being theologically picky or overly semantic. Perhaps I am picky, maybe not, and I’m encouraging you to discover a more profound worship experience.
Before you determine your ultimate judgment on the difference between “broken” or “given,” try it in the heart of your worship the next time you take Communion/The Lord Supper. Your minister might say “given.” He might even say, “shed for you.” He might say, “broken.” If he does the latter wording, then say “given” in your heart and see if that changes your heart’s worship towards Christ as you take Communion/The Lord’s Supper.
Ultimately, the goal of Communion/The Lord’s Supper is to bring our hearts closer to worshipping Jesus. That’s my goal, and its why I’ve “given” you these thoughts today.