Daily Devotional | Day 343
“For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17).
We will conclude the current series by looking at two things Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10 because of their relevance to what we have so far discussed.
The first point is from our opening Scripture in which Paul writes, “we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.” Paul is talking about believers, specifically those gathered for the Lord’s Supper. And the bread he is talking about is the loaf of bread used for the Lord’s Supper. This is the same bread of which Paul said, “The bread which we break, is it not the communion [fellowship] of the body of Christ?” (10:16). But now he says the Lord’s Supper participants are one bread, referring to the Lord’s Supper bread.
Next, Paul tells us the reason why we are one bread: “for we all partake of that one bread.” Because believers eat from the one bread, they are one bread (and therefore one body). Paul’s point is, the bread we break represents us. We are that bread. As the bread is one, so are we. Anyone at the Lord’s Supper who eats a piece of that one bread is acknowledging and celebrating the fact that he or she is part of the one bread.
Paul chose his words carefully. Notice he did not say Jesus is that one bread. Rather, he said we are that one bread. The obvious question is: If we are indeed one bread, does this mean that when we eat the bread, we are chewing on each other? The answer, of course, is no. The Lord’s Supper, as we have emphasized throughout this series, carries a more profound truth which has nothing to do with chewing Jesus’ flesh or our own. What we do at the Lord’s Supper is celebrate fellowship with Jesus’ body and blood, as well as fellowship with one another.
Let us now look at Paul’s second point. He drew an example from Israel’s temple sacrifices to illustrate how fellowship works: “Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?” (v. 18). In the Old Testament those who served at the altar, Aaron and his sons, ate the sacrifices brought to the altar (Deuteronomy 18:1-5). Paul says, because they ate the food sacrifices (meat, grain, etc.), they became partakers of the altar. Did they have to chew or swallow the altar to become partakers of the altar? No. All they had to do was eat food sacrificed at the altar, and this resulted in them having fellowship with the altar.
Using the same (spiritual) logic, Paul explained that those who ate food sacrificed to idols were in effect having communion (fellowship) with the demons to whom the food had been dedicated (v. 19-20). To have fellowship with demons, one does not have to swallow demons. All one has to do is eat what is dedicated to demons. This is the same principle by which Paul explains that the bread we break at the Lord’s Supper is fellowship with the body of Christ, and the cup we bless is fellowship with His blood (v. 16). And it is on this basis that he warned the Corinthians, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons” (v. 21).
By the very fact that the Lord’s Supper is in remembrance of Jesus’ body and His blood, that makes the celebration sacred – dedicated unto Jesus’ death. As a result, everyone who eats the bread and drinks the cup is in effect having fellowship with the body and blood of Jesus. Likewise, whoever behaves in a manner that tampers with the sacredness of the celebration is guilty of the body and blood of Christ. Such a person eats and drinks judgment (11:27, 29).
In sum, at no point did Jesus indicate – even remotely – that He would give us power to convert bread into His body or convert drink into His blood. No one can create Jesus from bread. Jesus dwells in us, not in bread. To suggest that the Lord’s Supper bread in our mouth is Jesus’ flesh is the result of misreading the Scriptures. Such a misreading inevitably leads to serious temptations, including the temptation to worship the bread and the drink. It is our hope that this series has shed some light on this all important topic. We further hope that the insights we have shared will help us draw closer to Jesus and better understand what He did (and did not do) for our salvation. Amen.
For further study: 1 Corinthians 10:1-33; 12:12-27