Breaking Bread

“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26)

This is the first of 12 specific references to the “breaking of bread” in the New Testament, each reminding the participants of Christ’s sacrificial death. Although Paul had not been present at the Last Supper, he had evidently received a special revelation concerning it. “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed [literally, ‘while he was being betrayed’] took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24). Similarly, drinking of the cup recalled to them His shed blood. All of this helped them remember and appreciate the great reality of eternal life imparted to them through His death, for He had said, “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life” (John 6:54).

For a while after His resurrection and their empowering by the Holy Spirit, “they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house” (Acts 2:46), seem to have combined each day this remembrance of the Lord’s supper with their own evening meals. Sometime later, it seems to have been “upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread” (Acts 20:7).

There is no specific instruction in Scripture as to how often this breaking of bread should be observed, but when it is observed, the implied actions of “discerning the Lord’s body,” giving thanks to Him for His sacrifice for us, and “[judging] ourselves” (1 Corinthians 11:29, 31) are far more vital than the physical act of eating the broken bread. HMM

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