by Ralph W. Harris
Partaking of the fruit of the vine in a Communion service reminds us of the precious blood of Christ. Many hymns call attention to the blood. However, seldom are there references to the body of Jesus symbolized by the bread. By giving focus to the bread our celebration will be much more significant.
Hebrews 10 tells us we have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus" (v. 19). The next verse tells us how: "By a new and living way...through the veil, that is to say, his flesh" (v. 20).
What was the function of the body in relation to the blood? How was it broken? Commentator Adam Clarke states: "The breaking of the bread...was designed by our Lord to shadow forth (symbolize) the wounding, piercing, and breaking of His body on the cross."
Notice the breaking of Jesus' body did not mean His bones. In the Passover, the Old Testament prophetic picture of Calvary, not a bone of the sacrificial lamb was to be broken. John 19:31-33 explains why the soldiers did not break Jesus' legs, the usual custom with crucified victims to hasten death. They found Jesus was already dead. Unusual-because victims of crucifixion often lingered for days. No one killed Jesus. After he had completed His work of redemption, He yielded His spirit to the Father.
How then was Jesus' body broken if it was not His bones? By the wounds He sustained. They opened the veil of His flesh so the blood could flow and provide access for us to the heavenly Holy of Holies, the presence of God.
Unbroken, but out of Joint
Though not one bone was broken, His body suffered terrible agony. The prophetic psalm, describing the crucifixion, states, "All my bones are out of joint" (Psalm 22:14). The Pulpit Commentary says, "The strain of the body suspended on the cross would all but dislocate the joints of the arms and would have been felt in every bone of the body."
Likewise, Jesus' wounds broke the skin of His body from the head (the crown of thorns) to the feet (the nails which held Him to the cross), a complete work.
Next time you receive the Communion elements, as you reflect on the purifying, life-giving blood of God's Son and what it means to you, meditate also on Jesus' broken body. Think how the flesh was broken by the thorns, the nails, and the spear, so the crimson, cleansing stream could flow.