I’ve heard these words many times through the years, associated with communion and the cross… and have always considered them associated with forgiveness as a result. It is, after all, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that offers forgiveness to us all. But is this what the broken body, the broken bread, represents?
The blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin. It was the blood of the Passover lamb spread on the doorposts that showed the angel which homes to pass over, or spare from death. The lamb was slain and eaten, but it was the blood that made the difference in Passover. It’s the blood that signifies covenant. What is the significance of the broken body?
I’m sure there are several good and varying answers, but the one that struck me today is fellowship. Breaking bread in that time was a sign of fellowship offered and accepted. It was a symbol of shared social class- a slave and master wouldn’t normally break bread together, but one would serve the other, or at least I would assume. It also meant relationship. So, by offering the bread for them to share, Jesus called them into fellowship with each other, but more, back into relationship with himself, not as they had been, walking together on earth, but more deeply.
‘By his stripes we are healed.’ Healed how, of what? There were healings before Christ’s sacrifice. Perhaps the healing was that which God first saw, the healing of broken fellowship with him. The healing of relationship, first broken in Eden. And if so, perhaps the cross is about much more than forgiveness. It’s about fellowship with God, broken and restored. At least in American Evangelical tradition, forgiveness is about us. But restored relationship is about Him.