(Act 20:7 ESV) On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.
Ponder for a moment why “break bread” became an expression for the Lord’s Supper. It’s really an expression for eating a common meal.
A typical First Century Jewish meal would have a course of unleavened bread, flat bread made with flour and oil, not unlike a soft tortilla. The bread would have been baked fresh in a brick oven and brought in hot and steaming.
The host would say a blessing and then tear off piece of the bread, passing the remainder to his guests. The tearing of the bread to divide it among guests was the “breaking” of the bread.
You see, you can’t break bread alone. You can only break bread by dividing the bread among other supper guests. To break bread is to engage in table hospitality.
You can sing praises to God alone. You can pray alone. You can listen to recorded sermons alone. You can write a check to the church alone. But you can’t break bread alone.
One of the purposes of the communion is to remind us that we are a body. This is something we have to do together. And that’s because we are most like Jesus when we are together — because together we form the body of Christ.
(Eph 4:15-16 ESV) 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Therefore, as we break this bread, remember that this is not just between you and God. You are, as God wishes, breaking bread with fellow believers, members of the same body, united in Christ to be built up in love.
And you can’t be united in Christ and built up in love alone.
This bread is represents the body of Christ sacrificed — because we are the body of Christ sacrificed. We are “sacrificed” because we’ve committed to the form of sacrificial love that Jesus showed us on the cross — doing for others knowing he was getting the raw end of the deal. He knew it wasn’t fair. And he loved us so much he did it anyway.