Part 4: Breaking of Bread

Break Bread - Easter Series Part 4 -Mark 14:22
Jesus took the bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it. This is my body.” Mark 14:22

The night that the spirit of God hovered through Egypt, the Israelites were to sacrifice a lamb, not more than 1-year-old and without blemish and smear its blood on the doorposts of their homes, covering them in redemption.


God would pass over them.

When all of Egypt awoke the next day and found their first borns lifeless, Pharaoh granted Moses his desire and allowed Israel to go free. But they had to move fast. They made unleavened bread for their journey – it was humble, flat and quick to make. Every year since then, the Jews celebrated Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Jesus knew Passover inside and out. He knew the tradition of it, its function, the prayers and rites… He understood it.

But this Passover meal would be different.

The father of every family would take their unblemished lamb to the temple (or buy one there) to be sacrificed. They (if deemed clean and had eaten no leaven) would kill it, and the priest would catch its blood in a bowl. The bowl full of blood would be passed down to the altar where it was poured out. The lamb was skinned, went through various sacrificial processes and was sent home to be roasted. The whole family would sit and eat this lamb together. It was the sacrifice. Blood for atonement, flesh for healing.

But Jesus, sitting with his disciples, didn’t mention the lamb. He didn’t go through the traditional prayers and stories, but rather hinted at something new. He broke the unleavened bread and gave a piece to all at the table.

The easiest way to explain leaven is to think of sourdough. When you make sourdough, you’re essentially using fermented flour and water as a raising agent. Flour and water left to sit in a warm bowl for a week or two starts to go rancid, and the acid and bacteria produced is used to cause bread to rise. Unleavened bread has none of this rancid raising agent in it. It’s not mixed with rottenness to help it rise. It’s pure flour and water, honest and humble. As with most stories and metaphors used in the Bible, leavened and unleavened bread is used all throughout scripture in a multilayered fashion, in both positive and negative lights. But here in this scene, it’s the humble and pure nature of the bread that is the point.

Instead of the lamb being the focus of sacrifice, Jesus brings everyone’s attention to this humble bread and says,

“This is my body which is given for you…”

Not the lamb’s body. It was not the point of this particular Passover meal.

For something to be received, something has to be given. And for something to be given, someone has to give of what they have… Jesus was giving his body over for the healing of the world. The bread, his body, pure, humble, human, divine… given.

Eucharist means “Good Gift” which is why some call communion services a Eucharist. Jesus is our Eucharist, who gave his life, his body, over for the healing of us all.

And as he broke that bread and passed it around the table, he knew that in a matter of hours his body would be broken and enough life would flow from it to heal not just the Jews, or the rich, or the worthy… but the whole world.

Afterall, the new Passover table isn’t for the worthy… it’s for the hungry and thirsty.


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