BREAKING OF BREAD
Throughout life in order to advance to different levels, whether educational or vocationally, we must study. In school, we must study subjects that will allow us to advance to the next level (grade) in order to graduate. Once we graduate from school, we must study in college to advance with our degrees to the job market. Once in the job market, in order to get to the next level, we must learn and study to get ahead. The same is true of Bible study.
We are taught to study completely, and not in parts.
Jesus said in John 5:39-40:
You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
If we take these verses as is, we see one meaning, but miss the entire context of the passage in the chapter.
The Jewish leaders began to confront Jesus because He healed on the Sabbath. In verse 17, Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” One more reason for the leaders to get on Jesus’ case, He was comparing himself to God.
At this point, Jesus explains his reasoning (vv19-30), “I tell you the truth, the Son can do
nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (v19) Matthew Henry states in his commentary on this passage:
“…Obedient to his Father’s will; so entirely obedient that he can do nothing of himself,…so here, Christ was so entirely devoted to his Father’s will that it was impossible for him in anything to act separately.”
In vv 31-47, Jesus stresses the testimonies of others to explain His ministry. He mentions John the Baptist (v33), of the works of Jesus (v36), of God the Father (v37), of the Scriptures (v39), and of Moses (46)
Regarding John the Baptist, Matthew Henry states, “John came to bear witness to the light
(John 1:7); his business was to prepare his way, and direct people to him:…”
Of the Scriptures, Matthew Henry comments,
“The last witness he calls is the Old Testament, which witnessed of him, and to it he appeals (v39):… This may be read, either (1.) “You search the scriptures, and you do well to do so; you read them daily in your synagogues, you have rabbis, and doctors, and scribes, that make it their business to study them, and criticize upon them.” The Jews boasted of the flourishing of scripture-learning in the days of Hillel, who died about twelve years after Christ’s birth, and reckoned some of those who were then members of the Sanhedrin the beauties of their wisdom and the glories of their law;…Or, …You profess to receive and believe the scripture; here I will join issue
with you, let this be the judge, provided you will not rest in the letter”
What Matthew Henry is stressing, is what Jesus is stating in this verse. When you study the Scriptures, study them in whole, cross-reference passages to delve into their meanings, find out what the entirety of the Bible says, what God’s plan is for us for all eternity.
Breaking of Bread is to be approached in the same way; a part of the whole of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus throughout the entirety of His ministry was leading up to this time. His teaching was leading up to this moment. In this celebration, we see by the elements that Jesus presents to the disciples that form the whole of His sacrifice. The bread: His body which He gave in whole for us. The wine: His blood which He would shed for the ultimate and complete forgiveness of our sins.