" ....he ....broke it (bread) and began to give it to them" (Luke 24:30)
Luke loves meals. The meal recorded in the Emmaus account is the eighth meal highlighted in this gospel.
Eating together is more than focusing on the food. Each meal makes memories.
In my early twenties, as a Sunday school teacher, I remember this meal at The Ship Restaurant in Petaling Jaya. It was the end of the year. And the church pastor had gathered the Sunday school teachers for this thanksgiving makan to celebrate our year of faithful service. We sat at a long table. And we could order anything we liked! Today I can still visualise the sizzling steaks and crunchy potatoes. Seeing is remembering.
In the same way, the Emmaus meal reveals how Jesus is present and known when the disciples remain close to him. In the breaking of bread, we are drawn to the Lord of the Last Supper. A simple action - breaking the bread (or serving a scoop of rice) - brings the past into the present. And immediately, the disciples experienced the God who is broken for us.
In Luke 22, we see a Passover meal -- which reenacts God saving Israel - being celebrated. During that meal, Jesus discusses his sacrifice on behalf of his disciples. The passover bread foreshadows his death and represents his self sacrifice as his body is broken on the cross, for the sake of the disciples.
Today as we partake the Holy Communion in our church worship, let us ponder these words spoken to us, "Take and eat, this is my body broken for you, do this in remembrance of me". Let us also not only hear these words but also feel, hold, and see the broken piece of bread with our eyes. As the saying goes: "Seeing (and not reciting) is remembering".
In our life journey with Christ, it is most important for us to immerse and centre ourselves in Scripture; in Scripture, we see the extent of Christ's sacrificial love for us. And we see how his love is expressed in the brokenness of his body for us.
Christ suffered for us in...
material suffering, seen in the lack of many things contributing to his mortal comfort;
mental afflictions, e.g. his cry of God-forsakenness revealed anguish of mind;
spiritual sorrows, leading him to confess, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death".
And here we see his physical agonies which Paul implies in Christ's body being "broken for you" (1 Corinthians 11:24).
Through the Scriptures, we can see the intensity of God, in the person of Christ, who is broken for us. One writer highlighted these facts about the broken body of Christ:
his face was marred (Isa 52:14),
his brow was scarred (Mt 27:29),
his back was lacerated (Isa 50:6),
his side was pierced (Jn 19:34),
his hands were nailed (Ps 22:16; Jn 20:25 etc),
his feet were torn (Ps 22:16; Lk 24:40 etc);
his whole body was humiliated (Isa 52:14; Ps 22:17; Mt 27:35,36).
Today, how much do we see the brokenness of Christ's body in our lives? Do we also see this life principle in the Bible that brokenness brings life (as in John 12:24, where a kernel of wheat must die and be broken before it produces many seeds)?
In the gospel we see examples like how a broken roof brings fullness of life to a paralytic (see Mark 2), and how a broken alabaster jar brings sweetness of life to Jesus (see Mark 14, where the woman who broke the jar and poured out the perfume expressed a beautiful act of devotion to Jesus alone).
The thief, or the evil one, comes only to "steal and kill and destroy" our lives, to bring havoc and to break down our lives. But Christ, our good Shepherd and Saviour, comes in his brokenness, to give us a full and purposeful life in this world (see John 10:10).
Love is the motivation of Christ's suffering. That is why the Son of God, asserts the apostle Paul, " loved me and gave his life for me" (see Gal 2:20).
Dear friends, as we see the broken body of Christ given to us, let us be forever grateful for the amazing grace of God upon our lives. May we experience the God who is broken for us and be challenged by his Word, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers" (1 John 3:16).
Lord, help us to always reflect on this key theme of the gospel: "The body of Christ broken for you, and the blood of Christ shed for you, for the forgiveness of your sins. Do this in remembrance of me". Let us open our hearts to respond to the words of this hymn written by Isaac Watts, "Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all."