Well, Was His Body Broken, or Wasn’t It?

Communion Service: Avondmaalsviering in the Geertekerk, Utrecht - Johannes Bosboom

 I heard a message on Communion this morning. In it, the speaker got me confused, or, rather, I got myself confused. The passage in 1 Corinthians 11 says, “This is my body, which is broken for you … ” But the speaker pointed out that Jesus Christ’s body was not broken. “Not a bone of Him shall be broken … ” says John 19:33. This was echoing the part of the law that said the bones of the Passover Lamb should not be broken. And Jesus did not have His legs broken as was commonly done to crucified prisoners to speed their deaths.

The speaker said something I didn’t quite understand, and I am not quoting him, just meditating on what he might have meant and what I concluded about this concept. I gathered that he thought of the broken communion bread as symbolizing the “spreading around of Jesus.” At first I thought that was very weird. I thought he might be talking about Jesus’ love being shared with all mankind.

That’s a good thought, but I am a little burned out on the “Just let Jesus love you and everything will be okay,” cultural invitation so common today that doesn’t include repentance or calling sin “sin.” Again, I’m not saying that was what the speaker meant, just what popped into my head as I started to think about the meaning of the passage.

I got to thinking that this imagery in Communion might actually be pretty easy to understand, as I meditated on it some more. The events of the feeding of the four and five thousand in the gospels came to mind. Jesus not only broke up the bread that was there, He passed it out and made it miraculously multiply to be enough to feed those thousands of people. There were leftovers, even.

This was physical food, but the metaphor using physical bread to represent spiritual food is common in Jesus’ teachings. He said He was the Bread of Life. So when He said “broken,” at the Last Supper, which we partly reenact in Communion, perhaps He meant that He is spread out and multiplied — His love, His atonement, His grace, His holiness, His power — all His attributes, are spread out and multiplied to humans. He is there in each one of us, cleansing us from sin, giving us mercy and grace, bringing the Holy Spirit to indwell us, sufficient for all our spiritual needs. He shares Himself around to all of us, and there is more than enough.



5 thoughts on “Well, Was His Body Broken, or Wasn’t It?

  1. Shalom! I’d like to offer a Hebraic perspective on why Yeshua’s body couldn’t be broken (besides to fulfill prophecy). If a shepherd has a wandering sheep, it is common practice for the shepherd to break one of the legs, and then quickly set it and use a splint. To us this sounds terrible but what this does is it causes the sheep to fully rely on the shepherd. He has to carry the sheep and the sheep must follow because he cannot walk by himself. This is a time of healing for the sheep and for intimacy. And when the sheep is fully healed and restored, he may walk again and, hopefully, will remember that bond he had with his shepherd and not stray too far again. (and this is what happens to us as His sheep when we are “broken”) Now…why Yeshua couldn’t have had broken bones…..If a lamb had a broken bone, or a previously broken bone, then it signifies that the lamb was deficient in some way; that he had a character flaw of some sort, that he was a hard-head and needed correction (because he kept straying) but Yeshua had no deficiencies, no flaws whatsoever. He was “without blemish” meaning He never sinned nor did He ever have to be corrected. So no bone could be broken on His body because that would mean He was blemished due to correction He received as a result of a transgression. In Hebraic thought, the physical usually has a spiritual meaning behind it. Make sense? Shalom – Carol

    1. Thank you so much for this Carol! Your post went in the spam for some reason, but I found it. I appreciate this perspective. Our Savior was without flaw or blemish and this is such a beautiful illustration of that!

  2. This was very good material to think upon and I enjoyed the different interpretations of what broken would mean. To throw in another piece, I also like to think about the spiritual brokeness that Jesus faced while he was in the garden and the brokeness that we need to feel about our sin and the fact that Jesus gave his life for us. I think this kind of spiritual brokeness pushes me into the reality of how much Jesus actually did for us, and that he was so broken in his pursuit for our hearts and how much he actually loved us that he agonized over his choice and still chose to die for us. So then the choice is mine to live a spiritually broken life so that I can live a life and say that Jesus didn’t just die he was broken for me.

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