Matthew 26:26 (The Bread of the Presence)

On Wednesday of Passion Week Jesus was celebrating His last Passover with the disciples.  Later that evening He would be arrested and led to crucifixion, having been betrayed by one of those with whom He broke bread at this meal.  It was unfathomable to the disciples that one of them would do such a thing, and it seems that even Judas was deceived about the true nature of his traitorous deed until after the fact.  We find that shock emphasized in Matthew and Mark’s account of the Last Supper, but Luke, writing later to establish the newer Gentile churches in the faith, emphasized instead the institution of the Lord’s Supper by which we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again.

Matthew and Mark also emphasized Jesus’ words of the bread He broke and shared with them that evening as a metaphor for His body, of which Judas became guilty as an archetype of all those throughout history who would likewise eat at His table in an unworthy manner and also become guilty of His body and blood (cf. 1Co 11:23,27).  However, as happened during Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse (Joh 6:52), new believers in the early church also misunderstood “This is my body” in a carnal sense, which error both Luke and Paul were perhaps seeking to correct by including in their accounts Jesus’ additional words, “Do this in remembrance of Me”.

In addition to “Do this in remembrance of me”, what other words does Luke also report that Jesus said besides “This is my body”?  See Luk 22:19.  How does the inclusion of “which is given for you” also potentially argue against the notion of a real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist?  Think: had Jesus’ body actually been offered up as a sacrifice for them at that time?  I.e., while His words make sense if “this is my body” is to be understood figuratively, if understood literally in any sense of a real presence, His body had in fact not yet been given for them at the time the Lord’s Supper was instituted.  Had He meant to communicate a real presence in the communion bread of His body “which is given for you”, would it not have been necessary to do so after His death and resurrection?

In what way was the Bread of the Presence that was set before the Lord in the tabernacle (Exo 25:30, Lev 24:5-9) similar in this regard to the bread of Christ’s presence that we share at the Lord’s Table?  Think: was it the bread itself that the Lord was present in that made it holy, or was it the presence of the Lord in the tabernacle that sanctified the bread and set it apart as holy so that only the priests could eat it?  Similarly, should we understand that it is in the bread itself that Christ is present, or rather that it is the presence of Christ’s Spirit through His word in the temple of His Church that sanctifies the communion bread and sets it apart as holy for those who are priests in His kingdom to eat of it?  See 1Pe 2:5,9, Rev 1:6.

What was it about the Passover bread that Jesus was sharing with His disciples that made it an especially fitting symbol for His body that He was giving for them?  See Exo 12:8; cf. Exo 12:5, Joh 1:29.  Was Jesus’ emphasis “This is My body”, or “Take, eat”?  See Mat 26:26.  What was Jesus therefore communicating to the disciples when He bid them to take and eat of the unleavened bread that symbolized His body?  See 2Pe 1:3-4, 1Co 5:7-8.  Is it by eating physical bread without yeast that one becomes holy like Jesus, even in the context of a communion service?  Or do we receive the imperishable seed of His word to become partakers of His divine nature by partaking of the spiritual bread of the truth not only that He proclaimed but that He is (Joh 14:6)—of which the physical bread is a symbol?  See Deut 8:3, Neh 9:20, Joh 1:1, 1Pe 1:23; cf. Joh 4:32,34.  What in particular is the nature of that imperishable seed we receive from Christ’s body to become partakers of His divine nature that is especially symbolized by the unleavened bread we eat at the Lord’s Table? See Joh 12:24; cf. Joh 6:33,51. See also 1Jo 3:16, 4:10-11.

What was the first of two things that Jesus did just before sharing the bread with His disciples?  See Mat 26:26, Mar 14:22.  What two aspects are involved with a blessing for the food that we eat?  See Luk 22:19, 1Ti 4:4-5; cf. 1Sa 9:13, Mar 8:6, Luk 9:16.  Notice that the Greek word for give thanks is euvcariste,w from which derives our word Eucharist.  In what way are both thanksgiving and sanctifying for our use also important in blessing the spiritual food of which we partake?  Ought we to be any less thankful for the spiritual sustenance God provides through the truths He imparts to us by the Bread of Life than for the physical sustenance He gives us through physical bread?  Ought we to be any less careful to ask God to grant us discernment and sanctify for our use the manifold spiritual truths upon which our souls might feed than for the many different types of food we might use to feed our bodies?  Cf. Rom 14:6, 1Co 10:23,30, 1Ti 4:3-4.