“Broken for me, broken for you, the body of Jesus broken for you”
Nice hymn, except of course his body was not broken! I must confess that over the years this small thing has slowly got to me – and so now I have a blog to get it off my chest!
The Jews were given the Passover Meal back in Exodus. The eating of the Lamb had rules surrounding it. One was ‘It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones.’ Paul tells the church ‘Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed‘
In Psalm 34 we have a prophecy ‘he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken‘ And so when we arrive at the cross and see what happened ‘when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water‘ – no broken body, unlike his neighbours.
Before Jesus was arrested he took a loaf and said to his disciples ‘This is my body given for you‘ – this is much the same as when he said in John ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world‘. And anyway, how could Jesus talk to his disciples about his broken body when he was stood in front of them unbroken!
But there is one small problem: When we look in Paul’s account of the last supper we read (in the Received Text) ‘Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.’ – why? Well, there are 14 verses in the New Testament with the Greek word for ‘broke’ – and they all refer to the bread – apart from this one instance. Simply, the Received Test is not accurate. All the oldest manuscripts have ‘which is for you‘ just like in the Mark and Matthew, some others have ‘given for you‘ like in Luke.
Does it Matter?
Well here’s another question: I remember an old Christian brother complaining that because Jesus says ‘this cup‘ (singular) we should never use more than one cup! Is this in the same league, am I just being pedantic for no good cause? Possibly. But I think there is something else here surely?
The first thing is that God took trouble to ensure Jesus’ bones were not broken. Unless it was a fancy prophecy trick simply to allow us to marvel over God’s sovereignty over time and circumstance? I don’t see that. I see God telling us it was important, then ensuring it came to pass. But why?
I have been thinking on this all weekend – please add your suggestions but here is mine at the moment:
Look through the bible. Bones are important and seem to represent the lasting memory of a person. Think Joseph’s bones, think Saul’s bones. Breaking bones demonstrates absolute control and power over the whole soul and memory of a person. To me it seems God is saying “these are my bones, they are not yours to break, the body of my Son will be remembered and be protected, for one day these bones will rise again in glory.” “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” – Rise they did and the body Jesus had before his death was not smashed, but glorified beyond time and space, beyond our imagination. Though changed beyond our understanding, the body Jesus gave us at the last supper is the body he still gives to the world at Easter.