Last week, we introduced our series on the Lenten season explaining that we would be focusing on five verbs in Matthew 26:26 that Matthew used to describe the actions involved in Jesus’ first institution of Communion: took, blessing, broke, gave, and said.
This week we will look at the first action Jesus displayed as he implemented Communion: he “…took the bread….” As a community that is called to reenact the drama of Communion within our specific contexts, we first notice that we are taken.
We don’t know how intentional Jesus was in choosing the bread, but we do know how intentional he was in choosing whom he broke the bread with.
Imagine with me: of all the loaves and pieces of bread on the table, Jesus’ eyes fixed upon one. He extended his arm outward, his fingers gently grasped the selected piece, and he lifted it upward.
There is intention here.
Being taken carries connotations of desired choosing—of the chooser’s passion for closeness or intimacy. This is not the selection of a restaurant for a first date; this is the selection of a spouse. This is not choosing a parking spot at the mall; this is choosing where to purchase a home. This is not naming a playlist; this is naming a child. Much like the bread, our sacrificed Savior sets out with certainty to draw us close. He is not seeking emotional reactions; He is seeking long term relationship borne in the chosenness of his children.
In the midst of this heady love story, flashbacks snap me out of the conceptual clouds and into the harsh reality of life. Echoes of not being chosen…of being passed over, feeling unnoticed or even ignored…distract us from this call into community. Memories of abandonment and betrayal can drown out this life-giving chosenness. The emotional baggage we all carry speaks cynicism and rejection of this truth. Deep places of pain and trauma, the dark stillness of which shout defiantly in the face of this Savior who selects, seem to numb our very hearts to the life this message inspires.
There is something in the intentionality of choosing that can shake us deeply to our core. As we scroll our way through a world that constantly advertises our inadequacies without the next product, we struggle to hear that we are chosen just as we are. In the midst of the isolation we all feel as we are surrounded by the busyness of others, it is hard to accept that One would stop, notice, and pursue us. We bear the scars, both inside and out, that prove that this love is foreign, other-worldly. Hearing that God, through Jesus, would take us, can be too much too bear or believe.
How much harder would this be to accept if we did not have a Savior who came close, who clothed himself in flesh, who stooped down to dwell (and continues to dwell) among us by his Spirit. We can find hope in the One who was hurt, who now embraces, the One who was rejected, who now accepts, the One betrayed, who now forgives, the One murdered, who rose to give life.
Friends, this is good news. As we have been hurt, rejected, and betrayed, there is One whose eyes fix upon us, who extends his arms toward us, who gently grasps us and lifts us upward from the depths of our common rejection. As we move through this second week of Lent, let us press into and rest upon our redefining chosenness. Let us pray with the father who brought his son to Jesus for healing, “I believe; help my unbelief!”