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Blessed and Broken (Mark 14)

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”

-Mark 14:22

Before Jesus went to the cross, He gave a deliberate picture of the significance and power of His death. He did this before any traitor had risen up from the table, before armed soldiers showed up to bind and arrest Him in the garden. 

We sometimes say that Jesus died a criminal’s death, and this is true; but in one aspect His death was radically different from anyone ever executed, guilty or innocent. Jesus told His friends ahead of time that He would be crucified and that this was part of God’s plan. He told them to make no mistake; His life was not going to be taken from Him. He was going to freely lay it down (John 10:18). We tend to see death as senseless and we are naturally driven to avoid it. But Jesus knew the glorious eternal purpose of His death and willingly, yet sorrowfully, walked right into it (Mark 14:34).

Not only that, but He also gave a sacramental object lesson revealing the significance of His death. During the passover meal, He lifted bread in His hands, blessed it, broke it apart, and gave it to them to eat; He proceeded to call this bread His body. He was saying, “I have given Myself fully to the Father and I have His blessing. Now I will give myself fully to you as I die. My body will break, but My death is going to sustain your life. I will be broken, but it will be true food for you.”

What a wondrous offer of free grace against the backdrop of human sin. Mark 14 details how the religious plotted to kill the Lord, arrested Him, struck Him and spat upon Him. It tells of how Judas followed the devil’s plan to betray Jesus. Even the disciples all flee and sleep during the hour of Jesus’ greatest trial, and it seems that the more determined they are to stand, as Peter was, the more horribly they fall and wind up weeping at the realization of what they have done.

Perhaps the strangest detail is the young man with only a linen garment, who, after the soldiers lay hold of him, runs away naked. As this garment comes off, it is as if the facade is being pulled off of humanity itself. Even those who sincerely love Jesus are revealed as being powerless to do right, unable to follow Him in human strength.

But the light comes. At the meal, Jesus speaks. He offers Himself for this problem of our sinful nature, which we cannot solve ourselves. His death becomes our nourishment and strength to stand. Because He chose to be broken, under the Father’s blessing, we can be filled.

Something amazing happens further on in the New Testament. We, the ones who cannot do right in ourselves, are filled with Jesus’ own Spirit and called “the body of Christ.” It is as if the risen Lord Jesus looks at us now and says, “You are my body. Be blessed, and be broken for the sake of others. I will use your laid-down life to bless them.”

This is surrender. With no other resources or options, we give ourselves fully to Him. But remember, when we surrender to the Lord we are surrendering not to an opposing army, but to the One who wants to help us, to do in and through us what we could never do in and of ourselves.

Jesus says, “I gave Myself fully to you. Will you give your life fully to Me in return?” History proves that there is nothing Jesus Christ cannot do with a life that is fully given to Him. He has filled biography shelves with the proof of this, and He wants to make you and me into living proof.

Remember that the great battle of Jesus, the point at which He wrestled and asked for the disciples’ help, was Gethsamane, not the cross. The cry of Gethsemane was, “Not My will but Yours be done.” Likewise, the great battle of our surrender should not occur at the moment when we are being broken for the sake of others. The battle should be won in prayer, where God wrestles our will into harmony with His.

-Pastor Alex

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