The following is from our friend and mentor, Alec Brooks. You can read more about Alec and his work at Charis International.

The Last Supper (Juan de Juanes)

At the last supper, Jesus says to the disciples as he gives them the bread, “This is my body which is given for you.” It is interesting to note that he did this after he gave his body to them in the washing of their feet, and will soon give his body for them on the cross. Each act was an act of self-giving in an embodied form, a revelation of who God is by what Jesus does in, through, and by his body. God becomes embodied in order to show himself to us and to give himself to us and for us, because as embodied persons this is the only way that we can experience what it means that God is love. This is one reason the resurrection of our bodies is essential to our eternal knowing of God. It also means, I believe, that we cannot know what it means to be loved by God or to love God unless we give our embodied selves to and for each other, and this means living together in ways that make this possible in daily living, in the ordinary and necessary tasks of life such as washing feet.

Most Christians are content to experience communion together as a spiritual experience of some kind at what we call The Lord’s Supper, even though most don’t believe anything is really communicated through the physical elements. Also, most do not believe that in order to love others we must be willing to do as Jesus did before and after the Lord’s Supper, that is, give our embodied selves to them in the daily routine of life and receive love from them in like manner. We are more influenced by Gnosticism than we realize.

I think this is one of the reasons most people either eschew community or find it very difficult. We are happy to have spiritual communion—Jesus’ body given for us in some mystical way, but not to give our bodies for others or to receive embodied love from them as the embodiment of God’s love. And yet, John tells us that there is no other form of love that is truly God’s love. Our society doesn’t know what to do with bodies—they are traps, or impediments, or finally sources of pain and misery from which we must be released at our own hand or the hand of others rather than the means by which we truly love others and serve them in all aspects of life: in sickness, and in death, as we give our bodies in service to and for them as the disciples did when they took the body of Jesus down from the cross and lovingly cared for it and prepared it for burial. Without knowing it, they were preparing it for resurrection.