In a few days, many of us will remember the cross and resurrection of Christ as we celebrate Good Friday and Easter. It is such a tender time for me as I feel the weight of my depravity on Friday and the levity of hope on Sunday. I look forward to these services above all others, and it saddens me to not be able t o come together for communion the same as in years past. Yet as I still my heart in the coming days, I will have some bread and a cup ready at home. Because I am learning how both the bread and the cup offered at the meal of communion can lead me deeper in my walk with Christ if I allow it.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his
disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and
offered 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."
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is
possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
(Matthew 26:26-28, 39)
When Jesus shared the bread with his friends, he did several things. What he did in the room then represents what he does in my life now. If I am willing, Jesus will take me, just as he did the bread. Then he will bless me and allow me to experience his delight over who I am. Then, just as after he took bread and gave thanks, he broke it, he will break me also. And it is in my brokenness that I am best shaped by him into what he wants for me. Oh, but I don't like being broken. It hurts. It's messy. It shows all my insides. And it makes me powerless. But it also leads me to depend on Christ in ways I never had to before. Finally, Jesus gives my life to others just as he gave the bread to his friends. After I submit to the taking and the blessing and the breaking, I can be used by God to bless others. Perhaps in more ways than were possible if I remained whole.
Jesus also offers me the cup of his blood which is forgiveness of sins and salvation. But this cup also contains suffering. Jesus himself didn't want to drink that part of it, but he couldn't offer the forgiveness without the suffering. Just as he cannot offer them separately, I cannot receive them separately either. Ty Saltzgiver says suffering is the way of learning obedience, of discerning God's will for me, of growing in dependence on Jesus' mercy, and of deepening my intimacy with God. Surrendering to God's will is against my nature, against my flesh. It will not just happen because I go to church. It will never be my default way of living. It will require effort, wrestling, prayer, shaping. Suffering. Yes, deepening my walk with God will likely require some level of suffering on my part.
This is the bread that Jesus offers me. This is the cup that Jesus offers me. Before I eat or drink it so easily and thoughtlessly, I must ask myself:
- Am I willing to be taken, blessed, broken, and given?
- Am I willing to receive the cup of salvation and forgiveness?
- Am I willing to receive the cup of suffering that comes with it?
- Am I willing to surrender to the will of the Father, just as Jesus did in Gethsemane, regardless of the distress it may bring?
If and when I can answer yes to these queries, then I can eat the bread and drink the cup with joy. Yet just because I am broken and ready to drink today does not mean I will always be. The questions must be resubmitted. The surrender must be redetermined. The rhythm must be repeated. Again. And again.