Why Break the Wafer

Why Break the Wafer

Years ago, a friend of mine asked me about my habit of breaking the wafer before eating communion. He pointed out that there is no scriptural mandate for doing so, and he is correct. Nothing in the Bible mandates to break the wafer, so why do it?

I got to thinking about this as I prepare to lead communion as the pastor for the first time in two weeks. After meditating on it for a while, here is my answer:

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Church in Corinth said, “ For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:  And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.  After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

This is my body, broken for you. That is why I break the wafer. The wafer symbolizes the body of the Lord, broken and battered, first in the scourging and then in the crucifixion to pay for my sin and so I break it to remind myself that my iniquity along with the iniquity of a host of others is why Christ was nailed to the tree.

The breaking of the wafer, is part of my self examination process; I break it to give myself pause to remember that I bring nothing to Christ save my own sin in all its filthiness and that the cup which follows signifies His blood which flowed from a broken body to fully wash away all my sin. When I break that wafer, I almost always hear the words of the old hymn going through my ears,

“The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day. And there will I, though vile as he, wash all my sin away.”

Beloved, there is no real magic to the habit of breaking the wafer. However, you come to the Lord’s Table, simply remember these words: “The Lord’s body, broken for you and the Lord’s blood, shed for you.” Wash and be made clean and then partake. Freely, He gave; freely we will receive.

 

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One Reply to “Why Break the Wafer”

  1. I agree with your reasoning, and see no reason a wafer should not be broken, if the church tradition is to use wafers. Some use crackers, broken into pieces (I was at one church where we tore up a loaf of bread), Other use “communion bread” which comes in large pre-scored sections to be broken into tiny individual pieces. Of course, Jesus used one piece of (pita-like) bread, of which he broke off a piece for himself, and passed the whole remainder to the next person, who broke off a piece for himself, and he passed the remainder to the next, etc., around the table; a tradition I do not want to imitate. They probably drunk the juice from one cup passed around the table, but that is also a tradition I do not desire to imitate. Good article.

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