“This Is My Body”
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26)
What of the body of Jesus? What do we think as we take the bread?
There is no monument to mark where Jesus’ body lies, for His body has passed beyond this physical world. But we have the unleavened bread. This is His body; this is His monument. Nothing special about it—just plain bread. Unchanged, it is blessed, broken and passed among devout followers. We hold bread, we taste bread, we swallow bread.
Yet this simple bread reminds us of so very much. Our hearts are stirred as we consider all that the body of our Lord endured.
This is the body that was born to a poor family spending the night in a stable in Bethlehem. Wrapped in pieces of cloth, it was laid to rest in a manger that held straw for the animals to eat. Such humble beginnings for the body of the Lord of all creation! Such a humble, loving statement made by God that He was coming to save the simplest of us, that He calls the lowliest.
This is the body washed by the Jordan river, baptized by the prophet John. A sinless body sanctified for the work that was ahead. Not baptized out of need, but as an example. Jesus was compelled to fulfill all righteousness. If it was a good work, He was determined to do it.
This is the body that fasted for over a month while awaiting a time of temptation by Satan. The body hungered, the body knew thirst. The body longed for the bread that Jesus could so easily make out of the very stones of the ground. Thus that body knew the discipline that kept it in subjection to the will of the Father that sent Him.
This is the body that touched the children brought to Jesus. Children brought by eager parents who wanted their offspring to feel the loving caresses of this man of God. And Jesus would not forbid the children from coming to Him. Jesus would not turn away His children from Him.
This is the body that walked up and down the sandy mountains and valleys of Judea, Samaria and Galilee. The skin felt hot winds blowing fine grains of sand. The sandaled feet scraped along rocky ground. The throat ached from thirst. The head grew weary, but had no comfortable place to lie. The voice cried out in the wilderness and in the city. The heart hurt as Jesus wept over the lost who would not listen.
This is the body that sweat great drops like blood as Jesus contemplated the cruel tortures waiting for Him. The body stretched out on the ground, the face felt the coarse grass. Tears streaked His cheeks, and He prayed that some way be found for Him to avoid the pain that was coming.
This is the body beaten with Roman scourges. The head streaked with blood flowing from thorns stuck in His brow. The body was naked, exposed to this shame by soldiers who wanted some free clothing. The hands felt the point of a spike and screamed in pain as the spike was driven through.
This is the body that hung by its wounds on a cross of wood. The lungs filled with fluid as Jesus struggled to breathe. The side was pierced by a spear, but Jesus did not feel it: He was already dead.
This is the devastated body that was hastily laid in a new tomb. His morticians had to hurry, they did not want to be unclean on the Sabbath. The body was wrapped, a napkin placed on the face. It was shut up in darkness when the stone was rolled over the entrance.
This is the body that was missing when Peter and John looked in, that appeared in a room when all the doors were shut, that moved freely between Judea and Galilee as His disciples were taught what it all meant.
This is the body that ascended on high and was lost from sight in the clouds.
This is the body that we contemplate as we eat the great feast of a little bread and a little grape juice. May we never forget what kind of body it was.