Learning can happen unexpectedly, and sometimes it happens in relation to a word or two. Today I was reading in the gospel of Luke these words:
“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” (Luke 22:19 NIV).
As I was reading this, the word “given” jumped out at me. Jesus spoke of his body as something that was given. Who gave it? When was it given? I see multiple levels of answers to those questions. Jesus himself was clearly about to give his body because he was about to submit to crucifixion. There was an immediacy to the act of giving: the giving was being done by Jesus himself, at that very time and place.
Those of us who have staked our lives on the belief that Jesus is the Son of God see at least one more aspect to the gift and the act of giving. The Father gave his son to the human race when he sent him to earth on that first Christmas. That body that Jesus inhabited was God’s gift to all of us. The gift was given on the other side of eternity whenever it was that God decided to make the sacrifice for us.
There seems to me to be even a third level of giving here. The metaphor of bread is interesting in so many ways. Think about daily bread, to use the words of Jesus himself in the Lord’s prayer. Bread is best if it is fresh on a daily basis. Think about the daily manna that the Israelites ate in the wilderness. This heavenly bread was only good on the day it was collected. And think about the daily availability of Jesus to his followers now that he has risen from the dead and gone on into heaven. In this day and time, he makes himself available to us on a daily basis. He gives himself to us daily.
We certainly don’t always avail ourselves of this gift on a daily basis, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that it is available to us on a daily basis.
I’m probably more sensitive to the issue of daily availability because of this blogging project that I’m involved in. Each day I am training myself to look for learning that is worth sharing. That exercise is really quite an incredible experience in itself. When a day goes by in which I do not write something I feel as if I have failed in some way. In this light, the idea of Jesus giving himself to us on a daily basis is really something amazing. I think that if I can tune myself in to him on a daily basis I can not help but learn from him.