Flesh and Blood
This conversational drama was the centerpiece of a service examining the significance of taking Christ’s body and blood during the Lord’s Supper. It includes four narrators in costume: Jewish scholar, Man-on-the-street, Scientist, and Nurse. A table in the center holds chemicals and glassware for a science demonstration. If possible, obtain a few slides (see list of props) to project at appropriate points as a visual aid.
Flesh: The Purity of Christ
Jewish scholar: Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.”
[Lights come up]
Man-on-the-street: Jesus was a Jew. He was raised in a Jewish culture; he learned the laws, customs, and history of his people from birth. Every part of the Jews’ lives revolved around their religion. Because we live in a completely different culture, we sometimes miss the symbolism and rich meaning of the things Jesus did. Today we are going to look at the Lord’s Supper from a Jewish point of view. Let’s start with Jesus’ own statements about bread. Jesus says,
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).
“I am the bread that came down out of heaven” (v. 48). Jesus reminds his Jewish audience that after the Israelites left Egypt, God sent them bread from heaven in the form of manna. The Israelites ate that bread, but all of them eventually died. But if we believe, we eat the bread of heaven—Jesus Christ—and we will never die.
“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (v. 51).
Just as our physical life requires constant care and nourishment, our spiritual life also requires food. Jesus is the Bread of Life that nourishes our spiritual lives.
Jewish scholar: During the Last Supper, Jesus used unleavened bread to symbolize his flesh. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” For the Jews, unleavened bread is very significant. The book of Leviticus gives specific instructions for different kinds of offerings we offer up to God: burnt offerings, grain offerings, fellowship offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings. There are even specific instructions on the bread to be used in the temple: “No grain offering which you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven” (Lev. 2:11). No yeast is allowed. This specific qualification is repeated over and over: All bread must be offered without yeast.
Man-on-the-street: So what’s the deal with yeast? Isn’t all bread made with yeast?
Jewish scholar: On your grocery shelves, probably yes. But the Old Testament Jews made their own bread and had the option of adding yeast or leaving it out. [Show two loaves—one with yeast and one without.] These loaves were made with the same ingredients—except for the yeast. The loaf with yeast is big and fluffy. The loaf without yeast is dense and the texture is thick. [Break loaves open to show difference inside.]
Scientist: May I interrupt? Yeast is actually a living creature—a minute fungus that is extremely potent and loves to reproduce. [Show slide of yeast fungus.] When you add a small pinch of yeast to the ingredients for bread dough, the yeast grows and penetrates every part of the bread mixture. The apostle Paul talks about that in the book of Galatians: “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” Here’s what happens. The yeast uses the simple sugars in the grain to produce ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. The ethanol evaporates and gives bread that yummy “just baked” smell. The carbon dioxide gas forms tiny bubbles in the dough. These bubbles get trapped in the baking process and give the bread its airy texture. [Pick up bread.] Every little pocket in this bread was formed by a bubble of carbon dioxide gas.
Man-on-the-street: But why did God want bread without yeast? Doesn’t the yeast make it better?
Jewish scholar: We Jews are into symbolism. In those days, people didn’t have little packages of yeast, so they would keep a sample of unbaked dough that had been previously leavened with yeast. When making bread, they would prepare the new dough, then add some of the older leavened dough. As it was mixed and kneaded together, the yeast would grow and spread throughout the entire dough.
Yeast symbolized sin and corruption; leaven was considered to be a corruption of the purity of the dough. The elimination of any leavening symbolized preserving the new batch from contact with wicked influences and outside contamination.
Scientist: Allowing yeast in the bread dough is like allowing sin into your life. Just a tiny amount spreads into every part of your life. It takes over and grows out of control.
[Show flask with peroxide and soap.] Let’s say that the liquid in this cylinder represents all that is pure in your life. [Swirl] It’s a pleasing offering to God. [Add a few drops of sodium iodide solution.] But suppose you allow some sin. It’s just a small thing, you rationalize. It won’t make a difference. Besides, everyone does it. But sin is like yeast—it grows and grows, and totally takes over. [Watch it bubble over.] It turns your life into something you can’t control. [Wait a few moments for reaction to slow down.]
The apostle Paul says, “Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth”
(1 Cor. 5:6-8). Paul compares us to batches of dough. Our goal is to be unleavened dough free of any wickedness.
Man-on-the-street: [pick up unleavened bread] Jesus declared that he is the bread of life, sent by God. At the Last Supper Jesus took the unleavened bread that represented his body—pure and free of any sin. He broke it. [pause, break bread] Then gave it. Yes, he knew what he was doing. Did you catch the symbolism? Just as he gave the broken bread he would soon give his body freely, to suffer and die for our sin. “Take and eat; this is my body which is given for you.” What a wonderful feast he has offered us!
Nurse: [gestures to unleavened bread] Why should we eat this unleavened bread of heaven? Basic nutrition: You are what you eat. When you eat nothing but junk food, your immune system weakens and you’re prone to health problems. When you eat food with nutrients and antioxidants, your immune system strengthens and you become healthier. I know a woman who had a son. He loved squash. He ate squash, squash, and more squash, until his skin started to turn orange like a squash. She took him to the doctor, who said, “He’s been eating too many yellow vegetables. I can tell by looking at him.” We are what we eat!
Christ has offered us himself [gesture to bread again]. It’s my prayer that we take so much of Christ into ourselves that people look at us and say, “You have Christ. I can tell by looking at you.” We are what we eat.
When we take part in the Lord’s Supper, we take the unleavened bread, the body of Christ—totally pure, without contamination, given for us. We take it because we want to be more like Christ.
[Cast sits down. Remove table with chemical reaction supplies.]
Blood: Christ’s Life Enters Us and We Are Cleansed
[Cast resumes positions]
Man-on-the-street: Jesus said, “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him” (John 6:55-56).
Let’s talk blood. You’ve heard of “blood brothers”—people who pledge undying loyalty. You’ve heard the phrase “mixed blood” referring to a person’s heredity. You’ve heard people described as hot-blooded or cold-blooded, referring to their temperament. Christianity is based on the blood of Jesus.
Nurse: In the Bible, blood represents life and is often referred to as “life blood.” Leviticus says in several different places, “The life of a creature is in the blood.” Modern medicine usually defines life as the presence of a heartbeat or brainwaves, but the Bible defines it as the presence of blood.
Jewish scholar: For us, life is in the blood. Old Testament offerings always involved the shedding of blood. The blood was either sprinkled or poured over the altar. The person offering the sacrifice was acknowledging that all life came from God, and they were returning it to its creator and owner.
In Leviticus, God specifically said not to eat meat that still had its lifeblood in it. “If anyone eats blood, that person must be cut off from his people” (Lev. 7:27). The people believed that if they ate the blood of the animal, the animal would live in them. God said, “Don’t do that.”
It was with this mindset that the Jews listened to Jesus say, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” This was shocking—it went against what they had been taught! At this point, Jesus hadn’t died and risen yet. Some people weren’t sure who or what he was. Prophet? Messiah? Teacher? If he was nothing more than a prophet or teacher, he had just crossed the line. He offended many people with his invitation to drink his blood. Many of the disciples turned back and no longer followed him. They didn’t understand.
The Lord’s Supper is the remembrance of Jesus’ death and a celebration of what he gave for us. It is also the realization of his present life within us. Christ was not just a prophet or teacher who gave us an example of a way of life, he gave us life itself—and our participation in the Lord’s Supper celebrates that.
Man-on-the-street: Another aspect of biblical blood is its cleansing power. Blood stains any article of clothing it touches, but Jesus talks about the cleansing power of blood! As a child, when we sang in church about being “washed in the blood,” I’d think, “Wouldn’t soap work better?” But the book of Revelation pictures multitudes who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:14).
Jewish scholar: The temple in Jerusalem was cleansed with blood. Hebrews 9 reviews some of the Old Testament laws of cleansing the temple with blood. All articles were cleansed by a sprinkling of the blood of sacrifices. “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (v. 22).
Jesus grew up knowing those laws. He knew that he had come to earth to be the ultimate shedder of blood. He knew that he would take the role of the animal sacrifice and provide the blood that would be the blanket of forgiveness for us.
Nurse: Our bodies are made up of tiny units called cells. Each of us has about 100 trillion cells in our body, and each cell has various functions and purposes. But all have one thing in common. Each cell needs to breathe, be fed, and dispose of wastes. Our bodies—so fearfully and wonderfully made—have a network of 60,000 miles of blood vessels that link every living cell. [Show blood vessel slide] This network serves as a pipeline for our blood.
[Scientist can demonstrate the following explanation with a laser pointer on the blood vessel slide while nurse talks.]
The blood picks up oxygen from the lungs and nutrients from the digestive system, travels through the pipeline to the cell, unloads the oxygen and nutrients for the cell to use, and reloads with refuse, exhaust gases, and worn-out chemicals. As the blood ferries away the refuse, it heads for the lungs and kidneys, all in about 20 seconds. [Show blood cell slide.] In four months, the average red blood cell takes half a million round trips through your body before it finally retires. It’s amazing!
Scientist: No doubt about it, blood sustains life. It provides nourishment and it cleanses. When muscles work, they produce waste in the form of lactic acid, and the acid crystallizes in the muscle before being carried away by the blood. That’s why when you overwork a muscle, it’s often sore the next day.
We can actually experience the cleansing power of blood. [makes fist, nurse puts blood pressure cuff on arm and pumps it up.] Putting something tight around your arm stops the flow of blood. The blood that was carrying away wastes doesn’t have anywhere to go.
Nurse: How does it feel?
Scientist: The same as when you lie on your arm and it goes to sleep. It starts feeling heavy, and then it starts to ache. Why? The wastes that have accumulated cause the pain. When the pressure is released [do it] the blood starts to flow again and carries away the waste products to the lungs and kidneys, cleansing the area. When the blood takes away the wastes, the area is cleansed, and the pain goes away.
Nurse: People with kidneys that don’t function correctly know all too well the pain associated with accumulated wastes. They can’t avoid the pain associated with unclean blood. They need a dialysis machine that can take the wastes out of their blood to find relief from their pain.
Man-on-the-street: For most of us, the waste accumulation isn’t biological—its emotional and spiritual. Every day we accumulate waste in the form of greed, pride, insensitivity, broken relationships, and other sins. Sin slowly kills our relationship with God. It often happens so gradually that we don’t notice the change. Those wastes cause pain in our lives, and the pain builds over time.
Nurse: We have been offered a prescription for pain relief—the cleansing blood of Jesus. Forgiveness through Christ’s blood washes away the waste products, or sins, that hamper our true health. Jesus cleanses us by his blood. It doesn’t seem possible, it doesn’t always make sense, but that’s how God’s love works.
Jewish scholar: In the Lord’s Supper we are truly eating and drinking salvation, forgiveness, and new life in Christ. Do you have a build-up of sin that is causing pain? All you have to do is allow the blood of Jesus to forgive you and make you white as snow. All you have to do is ask.
- Slides: yeast fungus, blood vessels, blood cells
- A flask with a solution of 30% hydrogen peroxide and a squirt of dish detergent
- A small amount of sodium iodide solution. (For the demonstration, you’ll add sodium iodide solution to the flask, which will slowly foam up and out of the flask, demonstrating how sin grows out of control. It’s smart to try this at home before presenting the drama so you’ll see how it works.)
- Two loaves of bread, one baked with yeast, one without
- Blood pressure cuff