“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’” –Matthew 26:26
A new thought occurred to me when I read this passage yesterday morning. As many times as I’ve read the story of the Last Supper and heard it read during communion celebrations at church, I’m surprised—and thrilled—to have a new concept to consider. For me, it has come at just the right time. (Our God tends to work that way.) My husband and I are fairly new empty-nesters, entering what some generational researchers are starting to call our second adulthood. It’s a tempting time, a time when people are tempted to say, “We’re done! Let’s go play for the rest of our lives.” But we’ve still got a lot of life left in us—at least we still feel like we do—most days. We’re asking God how He wants us to spend this next phase of our life and thanking Him for every opportunity to serve.
This is how Jesus taught His followers to live. His actions at the Last Supper are the prime example for all of us.
Matthew 26:26 tells us that Jesus took the bread and gave thanks. I’ve always pictured this as Him saying grace before the meal, thanking God for the food as many of us do. But what I noticed yesterday was that, in this instance, Jesus didn’t give thanks for what He was about to receive, like we do at meals. He wasn’t simply and routinely thanking God for food that He was getting ready to ingest. Look more closely here. He gave thanks for what was already His, for what He was able and preparing to give—His life for us. Jesus gave thanks—then He gave.
Jesus gave thanks for the bread that represented His body which He gave away. He gave thanks not for what He had to keep for Himself but for what God had given Him to give away— to save everyone else.
It occurs to me that if we want to be more like Jesus, we have to realize that life isn’t about collecting and keeping and giving thanks for what we claim as ours. It’s about thanking God for the resources He provides that enable us to participate in His plan to provide for others wherever we see a need: our money, our time, our strength, our ideas, anything we think we possess. We trust God to care for us; we use His gifts to care for others in His name. And we celebrate the blessing of being able to do so. We give God our thanks.
First Peter 4:10 says it this way: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
What gifts has God given you that you can thank Him for and give away in Jesus’ name? Ask Him for what purpose He has graciously placed various resources in your care. Ask Him to help you use them to meet needs, and thank Him for every opportunity you seize.
Father, thank You for all of the resources You’ve entrusted to our care. Show us how to share them for the benefit of others, for the health of Your Kingdom now. In Jesus, we pray. Amen.