I’m sure we’ve all sat around the table to partake of the Lord’s Supper and we’ve heard someone make some kind of comment or reference to Jesus’ ‘broken body’ on the cross, either in their talk or in their prayer. Maybe you are reading this and wondering what the big deal is, concerning the bread representing Jesus’ ‘broken body’! Maybe you’re thinking, well, that’s what the Scripture actually says, isn’t it!
Let’s go ahead and carefully read the four accounts concerning the bread and Jesus’ body.
Now notice that in each of these four accounts, the word, ‘broke’ is used, however, you will also notice that it is used
in reference to the bread which was ‘broken’, not Jesus’ body.
When we carefully read these four accounts again, we find that Matthew and Mark record Jesus saying, ‘this is my body’, in Luke’s account he writes that Jesus says, His body ‘is given’ for you and finally, Paul writes and quotes Jesus as saying, His body is ‘for you’. Nowhere in the Scriptures do we read that Jesus’ body is ‘broken for you’.
So, where do people get the idea that Jesus’ body was broken?
Notice that the KJV says, ‘this is my body, which is BROKEN for you’. this is where people get the idea that Jesus’ body was indeed broken. It’s not surprising that many people quote this passage of Scripture during the Lord’s Supper because it’s a popular version of the Bible and people have heard this being quoted time and time again over the years.
Part of the problem is that the word ‘broken’ isn’t in the original text and it isn’t in a vast majority of manuscripts. My Greek Lexicon has it written as follows:
The word ‘broken’ isn’t in the actual text, in fact when we read through the three Gospel accounts again, we find that none of them actually say, ‘this is my body which is BROKEN for you’.
When we read 1 Corinthians 11:24 in most translations, we find it’s very similar to what Luke records, except Luke, adds the word ‘given’.
We also know from Scripture that they clearly teach that Jesus’ body wasn’t broken, even after His death, in order to fulfil Scripture.
Notice John says that Jesus’ bones were not broken. What John does here in his account is quotes from Psalm 34 to let us understand that this prophecy concerning the Christ was fulfilled in Christ at the cross of Christ, John 19:36.
Psalm 34 is a psalm of the deliverance of David when he changed his behaviour before Abimelek in order to spare his
own life, 1 Samuel 21:10-15. We know that bones are the structural framework of the body, and so, God metaphorically provides structure to the life of the righteous. Though the wicked will reap the reward of their evil, God will preserve those who are His.
Verse 20 points us to the Christ, who is the only truly righteous One, and saw the complete fulfilment of this on the cross, John 19:36. Jesus is ‘our Passover lamb’ who was sacrificed for our sins, John 1:29 / 1 Corinthians 5:7 / Hebrews 4:15 / 1 Peter 1:19 and the Passover lamb wasn’t to have any of its bones broken.
Over the years, I’ve heard countless arguments suggest that the body can be broken without the bones being broken. I’ve heard people say, ‘ah well, His bones weren’t actually broken but His body was’! I hear people say that ‘when they flogged Jesus’ back when they placed a crown of thorns on His head when they nailed Him to the cross when they did all these things, they actually broke His skin which is a part of the body.’
As thought-provoking as that sounds, it appears to me they’re just trying to make sense of the word ‘broken’ in the KJV of 1 Corinthians 11:24. Yes, the Scriptures teach that His body was ‘wounded’ and ‘pierced’, Isaiah 53:5 / John 19:34, but it doesn’t say His body was ‘broken’ for us.
Another popular idea is that it was Jesus’ spirit, His human spirit which was broken. I guess when we look at what Christ went through, we could easily conclude that this was true from a human perspective, but we must remember Jesus didn’t crawl to the cross like some defeated victim, He marched to the cross as a man who totally embraced the will of the Father, Hebrews 10:5-10, and said triumphantly: ‘it is finished.’ John 19:30.
It appears that some Christians are a little confused about the word ‘broken’ and so they end up being confused over the ‘breaking’ of the bread with Jesus’ body. I think we’ve seen that the Scripture clearly teaches us that it was the bread which was ‘broken’ and not Jesus’ body.
The next time someone asks you to thank God for the bread at the Lord’s Supper, or the next time you hear someone saying or praying about Jesus’ ‘broken body’, remember the Scriptures teach that Jesus wasn’t broken in any shape or form, His bones weren’t broken, His human spirit wasn’t broken. It was the bread which was broken but our Lord’s body was given for us.