Communion Meditation: “Broken for You”

CommunionAll my life, doubtlessly thousands of times, I’ve participated in a communion service where I was told to remember Jesus’ broken body. And we should do exactly that.

But I’ve never been told that his “broken body” is not just his physical body. It is also us. We are the body of Christ, and just as his physical body was broken for our sins, so we — as the body of Christ — should be broken.

(Psa 51:16-17 ESV) 16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

(Luk 18:10-14 ESV) 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

When we take this bread and drink this cup — symbolic of the brokenness suffered by our Savior for our sake, we eat brokenness and we commit to brokenness.

What does that mean? For us modern Americans, it means many things, but I think it especially means we give our radical individuality. It’s not about me. It’s not about meeting my needs. It’s not about me picking what best serves me and my family. Rather, it’s about submitting to our brothers and sisters —

(Eph 5:18-21 ESV) 8 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, … 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

We submit to one another by giving up our wants and our preferences for the sake of the wants and preferences of others.

And in this, there is true freedom. “Freedom” isn’t getting to do anything we want. Pagans can do that! Freedom is wanting God to restore us to what we were always meant to be. Freedom is escaping the world’s false image of who and what we are supposed to be and being restored to the very image of God. And we were always meant to be like Jesus — who was broken for others.

As we break this bread, let us remember that because Jesus was broken, so must we be broken.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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19 Responses to Communion Meditation: “Broken for You”

  1. The body can be whole, only as its members are broken. In 1 Cor 11:29 Paul points out that we are to eat "discerning the Lord's body." While this, in context, may include the physical body of Jesus on the cross, it definitely refers to the church. The context is division in the church, even in the assembly when the festive meal is eaten. In 10:16, speaking of the bread, "one body" is the church; in 12:13 we are all baptized into one body, the church – indeed, much of the 12th chapter speaks of the church as the body. It is disingenuous to claim then that "discerning the Lord's body" means to visualize Him hanging on the cross!

    The point, which you make very well, is that for the church to come into existence, Jesus was broken. For the church to be what He means it to be, each of us must be "broken" for others.

    An excellent meditation!


  2. Royce Ogle says:

    While I agree that we are and ought to be broken, and we must think of one another, I disagree that the Lord's Supper is the time to do it.

    It is a stretch to imagine that Jesus had anything else in mind when he said "this is my blood…" and, "this is my body…" than his own blood and his own physical body. It was a human body that was given along with a perfect life. He said "Do this to remember ME", not the church but Him.

    Of course each of us are part of his spiritual body but communion is to remember his body, his suffering, his sacrifice for us. In fact, the strict warning give by Paul was the danger of not focusing on the Lord's body.

    I can't imagine that the Holy Spirit would move Paul to give such a warning that it was dangerous to not focus on the church when taking the bread and wine.

    One of the dangers of taking the Lord's Supper weekly is that it might become routine, loose its meaning. Far too many of us focus on the fact that we do it rather than what it represents, the blood and body of Christ.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Jay, I agree with all your conclusions but I disagree with your premise. Philip Gulley has written, “If the church were Christian, Jesus would be a model for living, not an object of worship.” I do not see much in your post that Gulley would argue against. I agree with all you say of our need to “be broken” but that is clearly not the significance of remembering Jesus in the Lord’s Supper. To say that “because Jesus was broken, so must we be broken” is true but it is not “gospel truth.” Freedom is not following Jesus because he is a good or superior example for living – pagans do that; freedom is remembering the broken body of Jesus as the broken body of God incarnate. Jesus and Paul speak in some detail about the significance of the Lord’s Supper, when we read into the Bible another (significance) we may make the bible sound more relevant but we have weakened its power and clarity to present a Jesus that we may worship.

  4. Theophilus Dr says:

    Power and clarity to do what, for what purpose? What did Jesus die for? The memory of Himself or His church? How does the body of Christ live today? In the private memory of individuals during a 10 minute period once a week, or in the love of Jesus displayed by believers one for another in His body? Which is a testimony to the world? What did Jesus pray for in John 17? How did Jesus ask to be remembered after he washed the feet of the disciples?

    What was the context of Paul's comments about the Lord's Supper? The church was doing something that they ceremonially called the Lord's Supper, but Paul said it was not. Why? Because they didn't remember Jesus' broken body, or because they were breaking up His body themselves because of their divisive behavior? Paul said he had no praise for them, their meetings did more harm than good, they were despising the church of God, some of them were physically ill and had died, and they were reaping judgment upon themselves.

    Maybe they thought about the Lord's broken body, but they didn't carry that action over to their relationship with one another. Paul said (paraphrasing), "You may be dimming the lights and passing unleavened bread and grape juice around, but don't call that the Lord's Supper, because it is not."

    The Lord's Supper is a reminder of what Jesus did, for sure, but more than that, it is a testimony to the world that the body of Christ is one, because we really understand what Christ did and why. We do not serve a historical Jesus; we serve a risen Lord who lives today and the Holy Spirit indwells his body, the church. The memory and the application are inseparable. Void if detached. It's no longer the Lord's Supper.

    If someone remembers the broken body on Sunday morning and then goes out and creates division and chaos in the church body on Monday, or beats up and cheats a brother, has he taken (for him) the Lord's Supper, or has he asked for judgment?

    How are we doing with our testimony to the world that the body of Christ is unified? What are we "proclaiming?" Maybe we should rethink our understanding of the depth of meaning of the Lord's Supper.

    Thanks, Jay, for providing this format for discussion.

  5. aBasnar says:

    Freedom is not following Jesus …

    I'd like to reflect on these five words. Your understanding of freedom, Dwilhoit, seems to be rather "passive". Christ did it all, so we just sit and remember what all He did.

    But we should also remember that the one call He repeated most often was: "Follow Me!" – and in order to be able to followe Him, we needed to be redeemed, bought free from the bondage of sin. Now that we ARE free, we are able to follow and imitate Him.

    This means: What use is remembering Him if not for the purpose of following Him? We are not just called to remember His sacrificial death, but Him totally. And He called us to take our cross and follow Him. What better time is there for being reminded of our cross when we remember His cross?

    These five words – admittetedly taken out of its context – are by themselves a direct contradiction to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This contradiction seems to have its roots in an insufficient understanding of freedom in Christ.


  6. aBasnar says:

    "You may be dimming the lights and passing unleavened bread and grape juice around, but don't call that the Lord's Supper, because it is not."

    Isn't it interesting how we reduced the original supper (meal) to a piece of cracker, the wine to "lifeless" grape juice. And the deep and rich meaning of the feast to a memory of a dead body (period). And what lasted a whole evening is being reduced to 10 min rememeberance, 3-5 songs, a prayer and a 30 min lecture from the pulpit … "How very shallow, said Harriet!"

    Yet, since all of this seems rather "dry", we add some emtotion by dimming the lights (where is that to be found in the scriptures???) …

    Good questions, Theophilus 😉


  7. Price says:

    There does seem to be something similar in Jesus' words and those of Paul in spite of what appears to be a different message to those whom they were speaking. …..and that is Unity. Jesus was asking them ALL to participate in the remembrance of Him and Paul was asking them ALL to get their act together and start acting like a unit… Apparently, to both Jesus and Paul (under divine inspiration) felt the need to be unified in whatever we do as the "church." Sorry to say that after 2,000 years we still don't have that down as well as we should….

  8. aBasnar says:

    We can bemoan it … which is fitting
    We can try to find out why … which is essential for understanding
    Once we understood, we can overcome the schisms.
    There is no shortcut to unity.

    In particular: Any reductionist view of the Lord's Supper (only a symbol – only for rememberance – only to be performed by a priest – only a sacrifice – … and even if we replace only by primarily) is a hindrance. We have taken so much away from scripture that we have to return to its fullness ourselves; and once we come closer to God's manyfold wisdom shown and to be experienced in the Lord's Supper (and in all other areas of faith), we will come closer to each other.

    Unity will not be achieved if we only cry for tolerance, but refuse to reconsider our own position. And it is necessary to work for unity.


  9. The whole idea of Jesus body being broken seems to originate from the King James translation of I Corinthians 11:24. Later translations say nothing about his body being broken. Where else in scripture do we get the idea? Keep in mind that his legs were not broken while he hung on the cross, as were the other two prisoners.

  10. Theophilus Dr says:

    Good points, all. Too often we look at traditional phrases instead of the deeper meaning of the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper has become too close to a ritual status.

    Worship planning: "Let's see, we have 9-1/2 minutes here; we can get the Lord's Supper into that time slot. Can't run over because we have an announcement about this meeting and we will run over the time for classes. Don't ask deacon Jones to lead the prayer because he rambles too much. And for sure don't ask Dr. Jones because he's on call and his cell phone always goes off into the microphone. Just sing first and last verses and only show 4 slides of Jesus; that's all the time we have." Anyone else ever been in one of these planning sessions?

    Should we wonder why the church lacks in power, why disinterest is increasing as people look in vain for something spiritually deeper, why this generation is called a post-Christian society?

    Just because other churches are even more ritualistic isn't an excuse. We are the one who claim we are restoring New Testament Christianity. How are we doing on that?

    The fire by night has moved, and we are too slow about breaking camp.

    We need to ask more questions of ourselves that challenge our thinking to the core. We are still forming a circle to protect a traditional doctrine. We are so used to that circular formation that sometimes we don't know how to break out of it.

    This discussion format is one of the ways.

  11. Jay Guin says:


    (1Co 11:29-34 ESV) 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another– 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home–so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

    I've long taught (and others have commented) that Paul's command to discern the "body" has a double meaning — the physical body of Christ on the cross and the spiritual body of Christ sitting in the room, assembled around the table. After all, the conclusion he reaches is to be considerate of your brothers. Reflection on the physical body teaches us about the spiritual body.

    The rudeness of the Corinthian church was an obvious sign that they lacked humility and love for one another. They hadn't been broken. They'd not adequately joined with Christ in his sacrifice.

    Remembering Christ is useless if we don't also remember to be like Christ. That's the point of the remembering. You see, in the ancient world, "remember" means more than "recall to mind."

    (Exo 20:8 ESV) Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

    "Remember" means more than "recall that there is a Sabbath"! It means to honor the meaning of the Sabbath, to let the Sabbath change how you live.

    I should add that it's a mistake to draw too sharp a distinction between Christ's physical body and his spiritual body, the church. Paul argues extensively from the fact that the church is Christ's "body."

    It is, obviously, something different from his human body, but it is supposed to be his physical presence on earth, doing his will and continuing his work — indwelled by his Spirit. The difference is much less than we often imagine.

  12. Jay Guin says:

    "The fire by night has moved, and we are too slow about breaking camp"!!

    I will definitely be borrowing that turn of phrase. Very nice indeed.

  13. Theophilus Dr says:

    In 1 Corinthians, Paul definitely links the physical historical body of Jesus with the spiritual organization or relationships within His body today, the church. His rebuke of their attitude toward one another is in between a context of diluting one's relation with God with idolatry and the effect on the Lord's Supper (10:14-22) and a context of parts of the body (12-14). Then he permanently bridges the two in 11:17-34.

    We "proclaim the Lord's death" (vs 26) by properly "discerning the body" (vs 29, both mentally and in actually carrying it out), or we can join that category composed of "are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep." Like so many other things in the spiritual realm, God at creation gave us the authority of choice. Unity, love, and peace are choices we make. Here we have another choice about the Lord's Supper. Not discerning the body is contextually related to idolatry.

    It would seem that we can either "proclaim the Lord's death" or we can proclaim our own.

    "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15

  14. BurntRibs says:

    Jay – when I listened to University Church's sermon this week I wondered if that was you speaking – now I know. I was wondering how your congregation celebrated the Lord's Supper and if the members there appreciated the change?


  15. Jay Guin says:

    Burnt Ribs,

    My church is going through three weeks of special services centered around the congregation's vision. I'll likely post something on it. The next communion meditation I post will be from last week's service.

    We arranged the seating to have the speakers in the middle of the auditorium. We had about 8 speakers, including two elders, myself included, and members of the church's small groups and one of our teen ministers.

    Our preacher, Shon Smith, interviewed each of us on various topics, all centered on loving each other. I'll post my notes in a bit.

    Afterwards, I led communion from the middle of the auditorium. There were four tables in the middle, four in the back, and two more in the front of the auditorium. Each had cups of grape juice and baskets of communion bread.

    I explained that each member should come forward after the meditation and take a cup and piece of bread. The idea is for the church to commune around tables.

    As we have some members who can't walk or stand for long, I asked the members to look around for members who need to be served. We had ushers who would serve, if necessary, but I suggested that if we truly love one another, they'll not be needed as we'll search out needs and meet them without being asked.

    The service went very well. We were afraid it would take too long, but the lines moved well and everyone was served in good order. The praise team led several songs throughout the communion time.

    One man with Parkinson's was served several times, so many were anxious to be certain he was taken care of!

    Afterwards, we received no complaints and several compliments. We'll not do it this way regularly, but I'm sure we'll do it again.

    Speaking with people on 360 degrees is a little outside my comfort zone. I like to look at the people I'm talking to! But the 360 degree design created a very different, very positive feel, reminding us that we are one and that we are not passive participants in a show. We are together the body the Christ.

  16. James says:

    It seems to me that if we will fix our eyes on Jesus, we'll find the fullness of the meal is not found in the size of the matzo and cup, or a full blown meal, but in the glory of our host who calls us to the table in full fellowship and worship.

    I've been concerned for some time that the debate over pinch/cup vs. full meal is just going to breed just a new legalism — on the part of those who believe we aren't meeting the minimum amount of food on the table for it to "count" — and I think, sadly, we're now there.

  17. Theophilus Dr says:

    I agree, James. A debate over pinch/cut vs. full meal is about as useful as two people, one 6 feet tall and the other 6' 1", standing in Nebraska and arguing over which one can come the closer to touching the moon. To be worse, they are so focused on one another that neither notices the enemy behind them about to overpower both of them.

    It's amazing to see how Satan works using the different personalities and weaknesses of different fellowships. The weakness in our C o C personality is a natural tendency to drift toward legalism. The word, "natural," is purposefully used, because it is a work of the flesh. Groups can show works of the flesh the same as individuals. How long will it be before we recognize the history of legalistic drift in our fellowship and the fact that it still is occurring.

    A new idea representing an injection of power from the Spirit can occur and over time the idea is transformed into something more and more legalistic.

    "Let's rethink the Lord's Supper." "Good idea, we need to make some changes, but it has to go this way using this method."

    A drift toward legalism is a subtle control from the enemy. It is out of the flesh and part of the natural realm. That means it is under the control of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and is subject to entropy (probably lost some of you). That means it will be cyclic and the idea and its power will slowly dissipate until gone. Legalism is entropy.

    The power of the Spirit is out of the spiritual realm and is not subject to the laws of the natural universe. It is not circular; it is straight line because it points to Jesus.

    Need another illustration? A idea bogged down in legalistic drift is like two dudes sitting in the desert, with cow skulls around and the sun shinning on the sand. They are about to die from dehydration, but in the meantime they are arguing over which one has the better tan.

  18. aBasnar says:

    In case these last points were in my direction, I'd laike to clarify some things:

    How we do something is not as important as what we express by doing it. But how we do it may enhance our appreciation, our understanding and our biblical accuracy. We churches of Christ are very piocky about the mode of baptism: It must be by immersion. And if anyone from a different tradition (let's say conservative Anabaptists) have been baptized by pouring, we are very slow to accept this baptism as valid.

    What we have done to the Lord's Supper is as different from the original as is pouring from immersion. The bread and wine were separated from the meal in the 2nd century already; and while we are quick to dismiss the ECF as uninspired and irrelevant, we follow their man-made tradition faithfully. The other two major changes came about in the 1800s: Influenced by the tempereance movement wine was substituted by grape juice. Because of the discovery of germs, around 1880 many changed from one cup to multiple cups – breaking with 1800 years of practice among all denominations.

    Now, let me ask you: Is it legalism to point to these inconsistencies? Or is it not rather clinging to a double standard when calling such question legalistic?
    Why are we so picky about baptism, but so inconsistant about the Lord's Supper?


    P.S.: In our church we have it "Traditional Church of Christ Style" every other Sunday, when we all meet together, and "One-Cup-Full Meal" in our house church. We don't call each other's invalid or inferior.

  19. Theophilus Dr says:


    If you are referring to my post, no one's direction intended. I wouldn't even know what your direction would be. The point was that all groups I can think of have had a problem with "legalistic drift." Start with a good spiritual insight into a scriptural truth and progress to making it binding and exclusive and reject everything else and anyone who disagrees. Rather than make a doctrine that divides, better to put the idea into practice and show how much fruit of the Spirit and love of Jesus is generated and then everyone will want to do that. Don't have to say anything.

    If a view or interpretation makes us more like Jesus so that all can see, we don't need to say anything because the fruit speak for themselves. If there's no Spirit fruit, why are we talking, anyway?

    To me, that applies to worship protocol, instruments or not, Lord's Supper organization, water baptism, anything. Just show the fruit.

    Personally, I apply this consistently to water baptism and the Lord's Supper. I don't think we have the scriptural basis to be so doctrinally picky about either. Just show the fruit.

    Brother, I find nothing in your posts to disagree with.

    Sounds like the church that you attend has a lot of things right. May your light shine.

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