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Devoted to Breaking Bread

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to…the breaking of bread… (Acts 2:41-42)

We continue our series exploring the habits of a community centered around the gospel. So far, we’ve seen that this community is devoted to the Word and to fellowship. When the gospel is properly understood, and when the Savior is properly treasured, these habits emerge as a result. Today, we turn to the third such practice.

The Gathering Centered on the Table

It’s clear that, right off the bat, the gathering of these early Christians was centered around the Table. Luke tells us that “day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts” (Acts 2:46). While this could refer simply to enjoying fellowship over a meal, I think it much more likely that Luke is referring to the observance of the Lord’s Supper, or Communion. 

This first Christian community wouldn’t observe the Lord’s Supper in the temple amidst a Jewish worship service. That would need to be done separately, in their homes. Further, the phrase “breaking of bread” drips with sacramental meaning. This phrase is used in the feeding of the 5,000 and 4,000, in the Last Supper, and in teaching around taking the Last Supper in a worthy manner. 

These early gatherings were centered on breaking break, in addition to the other habits listed in Acts 2. This was one of the fundamental reason we began taking communion weekly at Creekside about three years ago. The Table is absolutely crucial to understanding who Jesus is, who we are as a result, and what lies ahead for those who respond to the gospel in repentance and faith.

The Bread of Life

First, we gather around the Table to remember that Jesus alone is the Bread of Life. The only miracle that appears in all four Gospels is the feeding of the 5,000. In each of those accounts, the writers emphasize that this massive crowd feasted on five loaves and two fish until they were “satisfied” (Matt. 14:20; Mark 6:42; Luke 9:17; John 6:12).

Though all four Gospels capture this moment in Jesus’ ministry, only John’s account gives us Jesus’ interpretation of that miracle. (After all, the purpose of miracles was always to validate Jesus’ message; Matt. 9:6.) The next day, this massive crowd finds Jesus on the other side of the lake. Jesus insightfully reveals their motives: they followed Him to get another free meal (6:26). 

In other words, Jesus has them right where He wants them. Here’s the point: “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life” (6:27). And what is the food that endures to eternal life? “I am the bread of life,” Jesus says. “Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (6:35). That momentary experience of a full belly is the eternal experience for our souls if we believe in Jesus and follow after Him.

Maybe this is why the only ongoing practice Jesus left for His followers was to gather around a meal. The life that Jesus promises comes through the giving of His body, something we remember by breaking and eating bread. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). 

In other words, we gather at the Table each week to proclaim the Lord’s death, the sacrifice by which our souls can be forever satisfied in Him. Only in Jesus will our souls never hunger or thirst, because He is the Bread of Life.

One Bread, One Body

When we come to the Table together, we are reminded not only who Jesus is, but who we are, corporately, as a result. Paul spells it out clearly in 1 Corinthians: 

The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread (1 Cor. 10:16-17).

Coming to the same Table every week, on the same footing before God, receiving the same grace through Jesus’ death and resurrection, our unity is reinforced. In fact, Paul goes on to rebuke the Corinthian church sternly for missing this key point. The rich, whose schedules are much more free, gather early and consume the entire meal, while the poor come after work and find nothing left. 

Paul tells them that eating and drinking this way is “an unworthy manner” that will leave them “guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord” (11:27). Therefore, we are to examine ourselves before we approach the Table. 

While this has sweeping implications for confessing any unrepentant sin, Paul has the unity of the church most directly in mind. Perhaps he’s simply applying the teaching of Jesus: “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23-24).

This command to self-examination is one of the reasons we have a confession and assurance time during each of our services. During that time, we invite the Spirit to search us (Ps. 139:23-24) and reveal any unrepentant sin that might cause us to approach the Table in an unworthy manner. 

You’ve heard us say it, but watching the congregation come to the Table each week is a high point for us pastors. We know so many of your stories, your triumphs and your pains. We see babies, people who have experienced loss, people struggling amidst trials. A great affection grows in us as we watch the congregation come. 

So gathering at the Table each week reminds us that Jesus alone can satisfy our souls, and that as a result we are all one body.

The Future Bread

Finally, we gather at the Table to anticipate the next time Jesus will eat this meal with His followers. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus introduces the Last Supper with His disciples by saying, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15-16). 

Think of that. With the full knowledge of what He’s hours away from enduring, Jesus tells His disciples that He’s eager to eat this meal with them. He’s been excitedly anticipating this moment. Why? Because this meal is the first course of a feast that will carry one when Jesus returns. And because of what Jesus is about to endure, His disciples from all time and space will be invited to the rest of that feast.

John, one of the disciples who at this meal with Jesus, was given a vision of the rest of the feast some years later. 

“Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’—  for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” (Revelation 19:6-9).

This is the moment our hearts long for, when our souls and our bodies will be satisfied forever in the presence of our Savior. We come to the Table every week to stir a longing for this day. The small bit of bread and juice do nothing to satisfy our physical hunger. Like an appetizer before a feast, they serve more to awaken our hunger in expectation that satisfaction is coming.


For these reasons, we too are devoted to the breaking of bread. We come each week to remember that Jesus alone is the bread of life, that because of His sacrifice we are made one, and that we will one day feast with Him in His presence. What greater ballast in a world of lesser goods, of trinkets and moments that promise a satisfaction they can never deliver. 

As we come to the table, may we “have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that (we) may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:18-19).
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