How to Become Addicted to God, Part III: Proclaiming His Death

By Will Dole

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42
Two issues ago we began examining four things to which the members of the early church devoted themselves according to Acts 2:42. We began with the Apostles teaching then covered fellowship, and this month we’ll discuss the breaking of bread. Next month we will wrap it up with a focus on prayer.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I look at that verse, the first thing that I think is, “What the heck does breaking bread have to do with anything?” It sounds like these guys are chilling out together, praying, and listening to Peter, but they make a point not to forget the French bread? Is that important enough to cover in this verse? Well, as you probably know, that’s not all that’s happening here.
I pulled out my MacArthur Study Bible, along with a few commentaries, and found out this is a reference to what we call the Lord’s Table, or Communion – instituted by Jesus Himself. (We’ll look at that reference in Matthew 26 in more detail later.)
The question remains: What makes it such a big deal that these early believers are devoting themselves to it? I think the answer to this question can be found in reading Jesus’ words, attempting to understand some of the history behind them, and then transferring what we learn to our lives today.
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom’” (Matthew 26:26-29).
At first glance, this is some weird stuff. Jesus tells them that the bread He is giving them is His body and the wine is His blood. Is Jesus supporting cannibalism, or does Jesus use imagery to point to something else?
Many are familiar with the story of how God freed His people from Egypt, but it’s important to understand the connection this event has with the Jewish feast of Passover, since it is during this feast that this breaking of bread takes place.
We read in chapter 12 of Exodus that the Israelites were living in slavery in Egypt, when God had compassion on them and chose to free them. He sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh with the orders to let His people go. After Pharaoh refused, God sent a series of ten plagues to display His power and authority over Egypt, which also served to harden Pharaoh’s heart. Before the tenth plague, the death of every firstborn male, God goes to Moses and gives him instructions to take a perfect, spotless lamb, without blemish, and then kill it. They were then to take the blood, brush it on their door posts and lintel, and eat the meat of the lamb. When the Lord came through the land to kill the firstborn, He was to see the blood and pass over that home. The lamb symbolized their deliverance from death.
Jesus, called the Lamb of God in John 1:29, is the greater Passover lamb, who was slain for us (Revelation 5:6). So when He says that we are partaking of His flesh and blood, He is drawing for us a connection between the Passover lamb in Exodus, and Himself. The old sacrifice of a lamb was to protect His people from physical death. God’s new sacrifice of Jesus was to save His people from spiritual death. God’s wrath passes over us and rests upon Jesus, who bore the wrath of God and paid for our sins on the tree (1 Peter 2:24).
This sacrifice is the very essence of the Gospel. If there is no cross, then there is no payment for sin. If there is no payment for sin, we have no fellowship with God. We should remember the sacrifice of Jesus and celebrate it, because by it we have salvation! We should devote ourselves to, not only the teaching of the cross, but the proclamation of the cross in Communion, (1 Corinthians 11:26). God’s love is so great for us that He paid the price of our rebellion against Him. He has shown us mercy, and this is our motivation for living a life devoted to Him (Romans 12:1,2). Although there are other legitimate aspects of Communion that some Christian denominations include in this sacrament, the main reason we partake of the Lord’s Supper is to celebrate the sacrificial death of Jesus. His death paid for our sins, hallelujah!

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