This is an event that’s so familiar I’m not sure I’ll have anything unique or profound to say about it. Of course it’s all about covenant, just as the Old Testament is about covenant: who God is, how he relates to us, what is expected of us, and the consequences of compliance or defiance. So also here. We find out right away that it’s a covenant of blood and of sacrifice, of brokenness and of judgment and salvation. It’s a covenant of love, but love involves taking in those who comply and shutting out those who don’t want to be taken in. Love never forces.
It’s a tradition, but completely new. It takes preparation, but will be spontaneous. It will celebrate all that is past without putting off, but usher in the present and future on top of it with a new life that is indomitable. The covenant is about to be affirmed and renewed, all at the same time. It is a supper looking deep into the past, exploding in the present, and anticipating a future fulfillment. Talk about an auspicious occasion! All of time and theology basks in a glimpse of an event. In its simplicity, Jesus speaks the heavens and the earth, God above and with us, continuity of time and purpose—spoken so underwhelmingly: “Jesus took the bread…and cup.”
The emphasis is on the breaking of the bread more than on the eating of it. Torn, and shared. The only reason to break is to share: the act of giving. Sacrifice and love, breaking and sharing. “This is my body.” This is the story of Jesus. Sacrifice and love. Breaking and sharing. The hungers of life and their concrete fulfillment in the person of Jesus. “Take, and eat.” Receive. Assimilate. Remember and repeat.
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” The plan of history is for him to be in relationship with his people. And the way they can know him is through sacrifice and love.