Broken Pieces

broken pieces

Last week, Nathan and I shared Holy Communion with two others during our church service.

Our dear friend, Matt, brought a fairly conservative chunk of bread over to serve us and carefully broke it into pieces.  One of the pieces that lay on the plate was somewhat larger than the rest.  When offered the bread, our awkward Englishness seemed to take over, and each one of us avoided taking it – I mean, that would just seem rude and greedy, right?

As we bowed our heads to pray, it began to dawn on us – this bread represents the Lord’s body, broken for us.  When we eat of the bread, it’s in remembrance of Jesus’ death on the cross in our place.  Why wouldn’t we want the largest piece?!

Nathan began to pray:  “Lord, I thank you that you don’t give us little pieces of yourself!  When you died on the cross, you gave it ALL!  You gave up everything, and gave your entire self to us!  And You said: “It is finished!”  You paid the price in full!”

It was a real moment of clarity – Jesus didn’t somehow share Himself out, giving each believer a little chunk of Himself.  No!  He gave to each one of us His all.  A real sense of holy joy came over us.

Then Matt, reaching for the wine, accidentally knocked over the communion plate, which somehow slipped through the gap in the chairs and smashed.  Rather embarrassed, Matt started to collect up the broken pieces…all but one…which I will come to later….

The sharp crack of the breaking plate, instantly reminded me of the veil in the temple being torn in two.  Was God saying something here?

My ears were drawn to the song that the worship leader was quietly strumming in the background…it was something to do with bringing our broken pieces to Jesus!  This was a God moment.

Nathan reached down to retrieve the last piece of broken china. For some reason, rather than just gathering the broken pieces into a pile, which is what I would have done, Matt and Nathan attempted to put them back together on an empty chair.  And when the last piece of china was set in its place, we were completely and utterly staggered by what we saw:

Broken Plate (2)

 

“For He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes, we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Words That Changed My Life

It’s amazing how three little words can say so much. Take these three phrases for instance:

I love you.

I am sorry.

I forgive you.

All of these phrases are small – but they can change an awful lot can’t they?

But never, in all of history, were three words as meaningful as the last phrase uttered by a dying man, over two thousand years ago. They were three small words that changed my life forever. And they can change yours too.

They were the words of Jesus as He hung upon a cross, dying.

“It is finished!”

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When Jesus uttered those words moments before He died, it wasn’t a cry of relief that His suffering was about to come to an end. He didn’t merely mean: “Thank goodness this ordeal is over!”

It meant so much more.

Jesus’ death was not just an unfortunate end to a good man’s life. There was something far deeper going on. The bible tells us that Jesus gave His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

He chose to go to the cross.

A ransom is a sum of money demanded for the release of a prisoner.

So who was the prisoner?

Me!

And you.

Okay, so let me just clear things up – I’ve never been to jail. This is a metaphoric image.

Before Jesus rescued me, the bible tells me that I was like a prisoner on death row, a slave, chained and bound by my sin. No matter how hard I tried to become a better person, I couldn’t get free.

So Jesus did the unthinkable. He paid my ransom. It meant that He had to die in my place. It meant that He had to take all of the sin off my back and bear it on His own. It meant that He had to be punished, beaten, bloodied and bruised instead of me.

And that’s exactly what was going on when Jesus hung on the cross.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, bore the sins of the whole world upon His shoulders, on a cross, on a hill called Calvary, on a day that changed History forever.

Which brings me back to those three words: “It is finished!”

The same phrase has been found on bits of ancient papyri, written across tax receipts. It really means: “PAID IN FULL”. Wow!

The price for our redemption, our ransom, was PAID IN FULL by Jesus’ death on the cross.

Perhaps you are familiar with the words from an old hymn: I pray they have new meaning for you today:

“Long my imprisoned Spirit lay, fast-bound in sin, and nature’s night,

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray, I woke the dungeon flamed with light!

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose went forth and followed Thee!”

All I had to do was say three little words in return. “I am sorry”.

And as Jesus arms were outstretched, nailed to that splintered cross beam, His answer was plain to see:

“IT IS FINISHED!”

“I FORGIVE YOU!”

“I LOVE YOU”!