The Resurrection and the Breaking of the Bread
Part 3 of the series, "The Resurrection, Ascension and Kingdom" -Luke 24:30-35 - Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; ... So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
The Promise of His Presence - Thinking through the life of Christ, we may ask why did Christ not stay on earth? Was He postponing His kingdom? This concern is addressed when we think of texts like John 11 and the death of Lazarus. Jesus “was not there” for him. And he died. But as we learn from the narrative, Christ is the resurrection and the life. In Christ's earthly ministry, He was “not with them” always. But He promised His presence after His resurrection and met with His disciples on the first day of the week. Then at the Ascension He promised to be “with them always.” Moreover, at Pentecost He poured out His Spirit to empower us with His presence.
The Place of His Presence - A key passage is in Luke 24, the famous Emmaus Road narrative. Jesus fulfilled His promise of being with His disciples on the other side of His cross when He said He would not be at the Table again “until the kingdom of God comes” (Luke 22:18). The last time Jesus broke bread was at the Last Supper (Luke 22:19). In this paradigmatic text (Luke 24:30ff), we find the next step. Beyond the sabbath, on the Day of Resurrection, Jesus meets with His disciples on the first day of the week. The place of His presence was the Table. The disciples then realized, “He was known to them in the breaking of bread.”
The Practice of His Presence - What we today have largely forgotten, the early Church learned well. The summary of church life is, “They devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). Thus this act, which we call communion, was the normative action of believers in congregation. They continued “breaking bread” (Acts 2:42, 46) and the explicit connection of congregating on Sunday to celebrate the Table. “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight” (Acts 20:7). May we practice His presence and may our eyes also be opened in the breaking of the bread.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more
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