Body Language

By Robert F. Hull Jr.

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing 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 Corinthians 10:16, 17).*

In some traditions, the person who hands the worshippers the Communion bread says, “This is the body of Christ.”

9communion6_JNThis body language naturally leads us to think about the body of Jesus given in death on the cross. But perhaps we should also think about what Jesus did with his body during his ministry.

He reached out to touch the sick and forsaken. He lifted up the children and sat them on his lap to bless them. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers in the temple. He stooped down to wash the feet of the disciples. He said, “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45).

Perhaps we “share” in the body of Christ not only when we enjoy the benefits of his death, but also when we take on his likeness by serving with our bodies as Jesus did with his.

But there is more to Paul’s body language in this text. To the Corinthian Christians, who were argumentative and factious, Paul reminded them that, because they all ate of the one loaf, they constituted one body. What a startling reminder to us!

If my favorite pronoun is me, my body language will show it by my selfish desire to be served, rather than to serve, to have my own way, rather than to seek what is best for the whole church.

Paul later wrote, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). He thus sought to turn the Corinthians’ attention from dissension to union, from the “me” of little groups and factions to the “we” of the one body.

“This is the body of Christ.”

“You are the body of Christ.”

May the Lord teach us again and again the body language of his table.



*All Scripture verses are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.


Robert F. Hull Jr. is a retired professor of New Testament at Emmanuel Christian Seminary, Johnson City, Tennessee.

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