Healing Brokenness through the Broken Matzah

     “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-28)

     Over the years in pastoral ministry, I have learnt that the church is a not a place for perfect people. Rather, people come into church broken, and people live in church by mending. In that process, the grace of God is the glue! The glue of God (grace) heals brokenness, and church is a community where healing can potentially take place. Communion time – the time to share bread and grape juice is MORE than a ritual, it is one of the ways the grace of God finds its way in our lives. Communion time in a church is NOT about cleaning yourself up via some mental gymnastics so you can somehow get ready to be worthy enough in your mind to partake of the communion elements – the bread and the drink of Christ! Christian communion is communion with a Person – the Christ – a participation in a living reality in and through Christ. The pastoral ritual of serving communion paves as a way of reminding, reinforcing, and transmitting the true realities of Christ and His Way.

     In this week’s Text Message, let's look at how Jesus revitalized and how Paul ministered this covenant of strong friendship. In Matthew 26:26, beginning with: "As they were eating,"

     Jesus and His disciples had gone in to honor and receive the table of the Passover. [REMEMBER: Jesus didn't see His disciples as His personal staff — an over/under relationship. He saw them as the beginning of His network of relationships. Interconnections in process… When you look at the Bible and you see over/under you really need to do a heart check...]

     In Matthew 26:26-30, as a Passover memorial, Jesus and His disciples were revitalizing and rekindling the covenant of Jehovah which delivered their forefathers from bondage. Jesus shocked everybody in the room. The table has been spread according to the Passover traditions. There were four cups on that table. One for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and one for the Messiah, which is inverted, upside down… Jesus, while they were eating, took the bread. The bread was folded on the Passover table…there was a fold of cloth with the first piece of bread, then another fold of cloth with a second piece of bread, and finally another fold of cloth with a third piece of bread… three pieces of bread (matzahs) sit prominently on the Passover table. Why three? Some Jews see them as symbolic of the three divisions of the Jewish people: Priests, Levites, and Israelites. Others see them as a reminder of the three Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

     Jesus (as is the rule of the Passover table), uncovered the top piece, covered it back, uncovered the second piece, covered it back, uncovered the third, covered it back, and went back to the second piece and took it out and BROKE IT! Jesus, at the table, took the middle bread that represented Isaac. The middle matzah, the one broken, the one symbolizing the Passover Lamb, would correspond to Isaac. How interesting that Isaac, the miraculously born son of Abraham, was taken to what would become the Temple Mount to be offered as a sacrifice! (See Genesis 18:13-14, 21:1-2, 22:1-18 and 2 Chron. 3:1). When Jesus took out and broke the middle matzah, it symbolized His broken Body! The disciples at that time didn't know it represented Jesus; they thought it represented Isaac. As a rabbi once said, "We never could figure out why we would break Isaac.” The binding of Isaac foreshadowed Christ (Genesis 22). When Jesus took that MIDDLE MATZAH, He blessed it with thanks, gave it to the disciples and said, "Take eat this; it's My body." And when He broke it He said, "It's broken for you" (Matt. 26:26). They didn't realize at that time what Jesus was doing. They were astonished. Christ was opening a door for our hope, healing and communion with the Holy Trinity and with one another (John 13:34-35; 1 Peter 2:24).

     The next thing He did was also astonishing. He did not take "a cup," He took "the cup." He took the fourth cup, the cup of the Messiah. Nobody had ever done that. He turned it up and filled it and said to them after He gave thanks: "Drink all, of this, for this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins, not for the atoning of sin" (Matt. 26:27-28). Now we recognize the word "atone." He didn't say, "atone." He said, "REMISSION." The word "Atone" is not in the New Covenant (New Testament). In the English Bible it’s used one time in Romans 5:11. But the word is reconciliation ["reconciliation is re-connection"], not atone. To atone is to simply cover for sin. And the blood of the atonement covered for the sins of the many for one year’s time (Lev.23; Heb.9). At the end of the year on Yom Kippur it had to be done again because it was the blood of the bull, goat and a heifer, etc. that had no power in itself. But here Jesus takes this cup, the cup of the Messiah, and turns it over, and filling it, He says, “Drink this, all of you. This is my blood. God’s new covenant poured out for many people for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). The disciples were astonished because they didn't understand at that time what He was doing and they didn't know what He was talking about. Christ was pouring out His blood for our salvation, victory, healing and communion as a family in His bloodline (Ephesians 1:18-22; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 12:11).

     Having realized this spiritual reality of communion, here’s an interesting issue for us to think and ACT upon…during that precious communion event in Jesus’ life and ministry, Jesus’ own friend, Judas, got up and slipped out of the Passover Meal to BETRAY Him. But Jesus and the other disciples finished the meal and went to the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus fell on His face at Gethsemane and said to the Father, “if there is any way, get me out of this.” There was coming about a time for the covenant to be cut through His very body, soul, and spirit. He was to become the lamb to be eaten, the shedder of the blood. He said, "My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, do what you want” (Matthew 26:42)! In a few moments the crowd came, with Judas at the front. Jesus looked at him and said, "Friend, why this charade?” (26:50). He was betrayed by a blood covenant brother – Judas, only moments away from the intimate and precious PASSOVER TABLE… We may learn from these verses what could be the most important lesson about receiving and lifting the cup of covenant before Almighty God…

     Shall we, only moments after leaving that sacred place, having celebrated that Jesus became our Passover (I Corinthians 5:7), having lifted the cup of His blood and the flesh of the lamb, the bread of life, and put it in our mouths and consecrated ourselves to Him, blood brethren in one body, one baptism, one Spirit with the Lord and one with one another, and begin to criticize our brethren and begin to belittle or betray the ones who sit next to us? Or put him/her down because s/he is of the wrong skin color, or his/her politics are not like ours, or we may not like the way they dress or praise the Lord, or this or that, and do away with the blood that sanctified us and made us holy.
Oh, precious ones, may we forever remember when we lift the cup of communion; we are related by the blood line of Christ with one another. It's not the blood of our body; it's the blood of our heart and spirit. That is why there is neither male nor female, Greek or Jew. Our spirit-in-Christ knows no constraints. Jesus went to the cross. The covenant reality was cut. So Paul could say, "Having given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me” (I Corinthians 11:24). Don't ever forget that we are blood brethren of a covenant God. "After supper, he did the same thing with the cup: This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink this cup, remember me.”

     Communion is about one word — Relationship — "a Relationship remembered with Christ and one another” Surprisingly, the Greek word for "remember" (I Corinthians 11:24, anamnesis from anamimnesko) does not infer that we should remember something we have forgotten. Rather, the word anamnesis stresses the fact of us entering into the very presence of Christ, so that by faith (a gift that one has because God has revealed His faithfulness) one can expect Him to make Himself known. It’s us entering into the same relationship Jesus enjoys with the Father by the Spirit. Communion is entering into our destiny with God in Christ by the Spirit. It is the Church’s destiny! It’s participating in the relationship the Son enjoys with the Father by the Spirit. It’s what theologians call an ontological experience — a matter of being in relation. It’s the churches’ wake up call to get in touch with and be revived by the life it already shares with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit!

     Let’s celebrate the communion of Christ through the pathway marked out in Ephesians 4:29-32 (The Message): “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”


  • James B. Torrance, “Worship In the Reformed Church: The Purpose and Principles of Public Worship,” an unpublished paper given to a Graduate Group, University of Aberdeen, Spring, 1989, pages 6-7.
  • The Broken Matzah: http://www.chaim.org/afikomen.htm
  • Lecture: “The Abba Outcome: The Basis for Spirit-formation.” By Wesley Pinkham, The King’s University, Van Nuys, CA.
  •  The Shape of Practical Theology by Ray Anderson