The Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, saying ‘This is my body, which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me’.
Our two-year old daughter Anu (no longer our little baby!) pronounced this from memory over our bread and wine last Sunday as we celebrated communion with our church-planting team. It’s amazing how powerful the impact of consistently declaring the word of God is.
And tonight, as we particularly remember the night when he was betrayed, we were having dinner with a new friend from the Punjab, an immigrant who we met last Saturday during our regular visit to the kids’ section of the brilliant Liverpool Central Library. He had been sitting quietly on the bench next to us for a while when I struck up conversation with him. It turned out that he used to come here with his son. But now his wife has left him and he rarely gets to see his son. I didn’t really know what to say, so just listened. And then invited him to join us for dinner–maybe the following day? (We were having some other friends over who we’d also met in the kids’ section of the library–these from China). –No, on Sunday evenings I volunteer at the Sikh gurdwara. –Well how about Thursday? –Yes, that would work.
So tonight he came on his bicycle across Newsham Park and arrived to a feast of chicken curry garnished with freshly cut coriander, and home-made chocolate brownies fresh out the oven. –‘No thankyou, I’m vegetarian…’ –Oh no! we forgot to ask! Fortunately we had some left-over daal in the freezer that was hastily defrosted. And the brownies have egg in, you don’t eat egg either, do you… He genuinely didn’t seem to mind at all, just glad to be welcomed into the chaos of our young family: Isaac refusing to eat the food on his plate, Anu needing her nappy changed, Paul grunting in his singularly noisy fashion. And he began telling us about himself, about his son, about how he misses samosas, about his visa.
And then he mentioned that his wife is getting baptized this Sunday. –‘Oh, wow; um, how do you feel about that?’
‘I don’t why she needs to, she is Sikh…’ He shrugged: ‘But all worship one God’.
‘Well, Yes and No,’ I replied. ‘You are a Sikh. Isn’t it true that Sikhs follow the teaching of Guru Nanak? Didn’t he teach that people must turn away from idols and worship the true God? The story of the Bible begins the same way–God calls Abraham from a family of idol-worshippers [cf. Josh.24:2] to worship the true God. And God promised that God would bless him and make him a great nation and through him bless all the nations.’
‘And Abraham’s children became the nation of Israel, and God set them free from slavery and brought them to their own land. And God said if you worship and obey me, I will bless you; but if you disobey me I will curse you–and then God said, In fact I know you will disobey me and be cursed but even then if you turn back to me I will forgive you and dwell with you forever. Because God knows what people are like! He knows that all of us do things we shouldn’t do. And so Israel sometimes obeyed God and was blessed, but mostly disobeyed God and eventually were sent into exile. But then some of them turned back to God and God brought them back from exile but still they were waiting for the promised blessing.’
‘And then suddenly a new prophet came, called John the Baptist. And he told people to get ready! God was about to come. And then Jesus came, and John the Baptist said “This is the one!” – and tonight is the night that Jesus was eating like this with his friends and he took bread’ (I picked up a chapati from the table) ‘and broke it’ (I tore it in half) ‘saying “This is my body, broken for you”. And tomorrow is Good Friday when we remember that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world. And so Yes, there are many prophets that have called people to turn from idols to worship the one true God. Guru Nanak, Mohammed, Moses… But only Jesus is God, who came as a sacrifice for our sins, because only through him can we be forgiven. And it doesn’t matter whether you are Sikh or Jewish or English or Chinese–you need to trust in Jesus and then the Spirit of God will dwell in you’.
He was open and listening. –‘So what does baptism mean?’ –‘Baptism means to be dipped in water. Or some churches just splash you with some. The amount of water probably doesn’t matter. It’s a sign of being spiritually washed clean from your sin.’
He stayed a little longer, and then headed home, taking with him a copy of Mark’s Gospel. Please pray for him, and for the many immigrants from other nations who live here in this city. That they would know the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.
And may each of you, this Good Friday, be filled with wonder at the grace of Christ Jesus, whose body was broken for you.
Grace and peace, Peter & Taryn; Isaac, Anu + Paul