Matthew 26:26 (Breaking Bread)

During Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples He both announced His betrayal by one of them and instituted the Lord’s Supper by which to remember Him and His sacrifice.  The two events are closely related because the bread which He gave to them symbolizing His body was also partaken of by Judas who betrayed Him in an unworthy manner as the archetype of all who would eat at the Lord’s Table but likewise become guilty of His body and blood; cf. 1Co 11:23,27.  Besides blessing the bread, what else did Jesus do just before sharing it with the disciples?  See Mat 26:26.  Was the breaking of bread something new or exclusive to His institution of the Lord’s Supper?  See Mar 6:41, 8:6, Luk 24:30, Act 27:35; cf. Lam 4:4.  Was breaking bread something one did in isolation from others?  Cf. Act 2:42-46.  In what way was the very nature of breaking bread a communal act?  Think: was the bread broken only for one to eat of it himself, or to share it?  What did breaking bread communicate about those with whom it was shared?  Think: Does a person break bread with just anyone, or only with those of his community with whom he is in some sort of communion?  As breaking bread and sharing it with others is an act of community, what does not breaking bread communicate?  Cf. Jer 16:6-7.  How does this passage also especially help us to understand the communal aspect of breaking bread for comfort and consolation not only in regard to Jesus’ death, but that He rose again?  See again Act 2:42-46 and notice that fellowship in Act 2:42 is the Greek word κοινωνία that is also translated as participation, sharing, and contribution; see Rom 15:26, 1Co 1:9, 10:16, 2Co 6:14, 8:4, 9:13, 13:14, Gal 2:9, Phil 1:5, 2:1, 3:10, Phm 1:6, Heb 13:16, 1Jo 1:3,6,7 for the other New Testament occurrences of this theologically important word.  In the LXX (3Ma 4:6 NRSV) the word is used of the shared communion of married life; i.e., we break bread with those with whom we are in κοινωνία, and κοινωνία is more than just a casual relationship.

In physically breaking the bread, was Jesus signifying that His body would be physically broken for them, as indicated by the KJV rendering of 1Co 11:24?  See Exo 12:46, Num 9:12, Psa 34:20, Joh 19:36, and note that broken in reference to Christ’s body in 1Co 11:24 is clearly a later addition not found in earlier manuscripts, and even noted as such in later copies, and so omitted by more recent translations.  Although we do understand a sense in which Christ’s physical body was broken for us, is the significance of Jesus’ words only as we most often think of it in regard to His sacrifice?  See 1Co 10:16-17 and think: does the point Paul is making in these verses seem to be that the bread representing Jesus’ body was broken for them, or that because the bread that is shared by many comes from one loaf that is broken for them, the many who partake of it are united by their κοινωνία to become one body?  How does this fit with what we now understand to be the body of Christ?  See 1Co 12:12-14, Eph 1:22-23, 4:12.

Recall that Jesus said in His Bread of Life discourse that the bread which He would give for the life of the world was His flesh, and the one loaf that we break and share among the participants in a communion service represents Christ’s body; is a loaf that could be given for the life of the world made from a single grain of wheat?  But if that single grain falls into the earth and dies in order to produce more grains of wheat (Joh 12:24), and those do likewise; might that single grain of wheat then be for the life of the world?  In what way is the true Church Christ’s flesh that throughout history has been broken and given for the life of the world?  In what way does it suffer, even as Christ did, in bringing others to the light of the truth by which they may be saved?  See Col 1:24; cf. Joh 16:21.  Even if our single grain of wheat does not fall to the ground to bear fruit after the manner of Jesus’ or Paul’s or many others whose sacrifice is most notable, in what way by just being a part of the Church does our grain of wheat combine with that of others to be crushed and become a loaf for the life of the world?  See 1Co 12:26-27, Heb 13:3.  Are we in κοινωνία with those whose grains of wheat are falling to the earth or being ground into loaves, or will we not surrender our own grains to join them?  Cf. 2Co 11:23-29, Dan 12:7.

Recall that the disciples on the road to Emmaus finally recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread (Luk 24:30-31,35); in what way is it that people today still come to recognize Him for who He is and become one with Him as the bread of His body, i.e., the Church, is itself “broken” and given for them?