As Jesus and the disciples took the Passover, Jesus blessed and broke bread giving some of it to each of them. He said, “Take; this is my body.” (Verse 22) Then he took the cup and gave it to them to drink saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” (Verse 24)
The breaking of bread, whether you call it that or the taking of communion, is one of the fundamental teachings in the New Covenant. In it we remember the sacrifice that the Lord Jesus made on our behalf. He died so that we could have life eternal and be saved from our sins. It is through the regular ceremony of breaking bread and taking the cup that we remember and we participate in these things.
The bread represents the body of Jesus that he gave up for us. This was the sacrifice and in it we see the similarity to the Passover feast. Jesus is the Lamb of God. As a lamb was slaughtered at the first Passover so that the first-born of the children of Israel would not die when the angel of death crossed Egypt, so too Jesus as the Lamb of God was sacrificed so that we would not die.
In Egypt the blood of the Lamb was painted onto the portals of doors and lintels of the houses so that the angel would pass over the houses of the Israelites. It was the blood of the lamb in Egypt that brought that covenant into effect, that is, the covenant with God so that the angel would not destroy the first born.
Likewise the blood of Jesus is the blood of the covenant that we now have with God so that we too can enter life. It is through the blood that Jesus shed that the covenant was brought into effect. Forgiveness and the release from sins can only be effected through the shedding of blood. (Hebrews 9:22) Thus, under the law forgiveness was achieved only by the process of the blood sacrifices.
Why is this so? Man sins and the penalty for sin is death. Sin is the breaking of God’s law. Sin came into the world through the breaking of the original law of God in the garden when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which they were forbidden to do. So also man dies today because of sin.
But the law is only binding on a man while he is alive, as Paul showed in Romans 7:1. Thus also, once a man dies he pays the penalty for sin in his death, for the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) Thus once we die we have earned the wages that have accrued throughout our lives through sin and the debt is paid. But of course once a person has died it is too late for them to receive forgiveness and so a better way needed to be established.
God did this through Jesus Christ who has shed his blood on our behalf. Jesus did not sin but still paid the penalty of death and so became the perfect sacrifice for us. We can now take on the death of Jesus as if it were our own and enter into his death and thus pass through death and into life. This occurs through the process of water baptism where we are baptised into the death of Jesus and resurrected as new creations in Christ Jesus, set free from our past sin, and set free from law and as a result future sin too is overcome. We have the victory over sin through entering into the death of Jesus Christ.
And this is given to man freely as a gift from God. That is why the scripture mentioned above in Romans 6:23 continues on saying, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When we break bread or take communion we are remembering this sacrifice and showing that we are part of this new covenant in Christ Jesus. As the Israelites partook of the Passover feast to show they are part of Israel and remember the freedom from death they received in Egypt by the covenant of God, so too we remember the freedom from death that we have received through the death and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. May his name be praised and glorified forever for what he has done for us in obedience to the will of God the Father, and let us remember and give thanks always.
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