Frequently we get together and partake of this bread and drink this cup. For us, we have learned to find comfort in this simple service. By partaking we identify ourselves with believers. Our emptiness that we may feel during the week goes away, and we begin to feel complete. Our minds tell us that we have performed a very sacred form of worship.
But sometimes, because we do it so much by habit, we may not really think to deeply about the breaking of bread. So for a moment this morning, let us look deeper into the breaking of bread, deeper into what it means, maybe deeper than we have ever looked into it before.
Close your eyes, and imagine being in the upper room with the Lord Jesus. It is an exciting day. It is just like the morning of Thanksgiving Day. A day when we wake up knowing that good food and companionship await us. It is a good day, and we can't wait for the first bite of the Turkey, or perhaps a taste of pie.
But today, we are gathered together with him to partake of one of the most sacred feasts practiced by the Jews. The Passover. We are with those who we have developed the closest of relationships with. Sometimes we have had conflicts with some of those in the room, but today - all that is behind us. We are going to celebrate the feast of the Passover. So we all gather around the table, very close to each other. All is silent as we look to the Lord Jesus.
So here we are in Luke 22:14: When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table.
Jesus slowly looks around at each of us. His face is full of emotion, perhaps his eyes begin to tear as he tries to share with his apostles - with us - what he feels deep inside. How can he describe what this bread and wine means to him. He thinks for a moment and then tells us the words found in verse 15: I have eagerly desire to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.
He uses the Greek word ep-ee-thoo-mee 'ah, which means a longing desire.
His heart was set on this very moment. After all, this is where it all comes together. The years of preparation. The sleepless nights, the constant daily struggles with men who hate you. The endless work. And tomorrow, tomorrow Jesus knew he would die.
As he looks around the room at his disciples - he tried to relay to them - to us - that the relationship they have had together was about to change. Verse 16: I will not eat it (this Passover) again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.
Jesus knew what they didn't. He knew that he was about to be bruised, beaten, whipped, cut, and hung on a tree. The apostles wanted to eat, but Jesus was trying to tell them that he was the food. His very body and blood were what they were about to partake of.
Verse 19: This is my body given for you.
Verse 20: This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you.
Jesus was trying to tell his disciples something that they missed. They were so use to partaking of the Passover feast year after year, that it became just a ritual - a religious experience. We partake of the bread and wine so much that for us - it can easily become a ritual - just a religious experience. But Jesus looks at us and says to us - you see that bread you are about to partake of, and you see that wine you are about to drink - well that is my body and that is my blood!
The apostles obviously missed the point. They couldn't understand what Jesus was earnestly trying to tell them. They thought that he was just speaking philosophically again, and perhaps one day he would explain it to them. For now, they took the bread and the drank the cup. For now, they felt the pleasure of eating a good meal.
But they still didn't get it. All their lives they have been eating this Passover feast. And all their life they really never appreciated the true meaning behind it. They weren't there the day it began. The day of the first passover. It was a fearful day, the call went out that this was the only way, the only way that they could escape death. They heeded the warning.
It was as though we are stopped on the street by a gun man. He holds a gun to our head and threatens to blow us away. We earnest beg for our life. He isn't satisfy and begins to squeeze on the trigger, suddenly our neighbor jumps in the middle of us - and the gun goes off and our neighbor takes the bullet and dies. How would we feel about our neighbor in that case? Would remembering them just be a religious experience a ritual? No doubt, remembering them would be far much more than that.
And this is what Jesus was trying to convey to his apostles - to us. Look, there is much more here than just a piece of bread and a cup of wine. I took the bullet for you. I was killed so that you can escape death. Do you remember that when you eat it?
For his apostles, they would actually witness the killing. They would see Jesus battered, bruised, suffering and in great pain. No doubt, the next time they ate the Passover feast, they would have difficulty swallowing. Paul understood this. Paul knew that life was given and he tried to relay to the Corinthians that they better take the breaking of bread seriously. Because if ANYONE EATS WITHOUT RECOGNIZING THE BODY OF THE LORD HE EATS AND DRINKS JUDGEMENT ON HIMSELF. This is why, Paul writes, that many among you are weak and sick and a number of you have fallen asleep.
So here we are, in the upper room. The Lord is present among us. And we have gathered to partake of the bread and wine. No doubt he knows us. He knows that we don't deserve this goodness. He knows that we are weak. He knows that we fail often. And so our Lord stands up, takes off his outer clothing, wraps a towel around his waist and pours water into a basin. And then he come before each of us, he kneels down onto the floor - takes our dirty feet and washes them. Afterward, he dries them.
It is no accident that this event occurred around the breaking of bread. Because this is the real meaning of the bread and wine - a worthy life was given for unworthy men and woman. So our Lord turns to us and says - behind this bread and this cup is a great sacrifice, so if you truly want to partake of it - then go and do likewise. Sacrifice yourselves, your pride, your time, your precious things - sacrifice them for those around you. Do this - remembering me. Remembering that I sacrificed EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING - for you.
Luke 24:30 Here we are, after the resurrection. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him.
As we partake now of the bread and cup - let us pray that our eyes may be opened and we will know the Lord.