On his last night with his disciples before he was arrested and crucified, Jesus sat down to a meal with them. He took a loaf of bread and broke it into pieces and passed it around. From that point on, Jesus said, they were to gather and break and share bread to remind them of how his body would be sacrificed for them.
He also took a cup of wine, passed it around, and they all drank from it. He told them it represented his blood, which he would shed for them.
They didn’t understand what he meant until the next day, when Joseph and Nicodemus took Jesus’ bloodied body off a cross and laid it in a grave.
Three days later Jesus rose from that grave new, fresh, whole, and wonderfully alive, eternally free of ever again worrying about death or suffering. Jesus appeared to his followers many times in the next few weeks, showing them his risen body, and promising the same for them and for us.
The apostle Paul wrote that, because of Jesus’ promise, we can now view our current bodies as seeds that will someday be planted so that we can rise up, just like Jesus, to live in eternal bodies in a heavenly home—the one for which we were made.
[Our physical] body that is sown is perishable, [but] it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. . . . Just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. . . . When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 49, 54-55).
We don’t have to fear death any more than a seed needs to fear being planted. So, we gather around this table joyfully, without fear, because Jesus conquered death for us. We break bread to remind ourselves that one day we will have unbreakable joy. We drink from the cup to remember that soon we will never thirst again. That’s the promise of this Communion we share.