I was talking with my friend Merlin a few weeks ago when he said something along the lines of, “I think it is significant that when Jesus instituted Communion, he used bread and wine; it requires a great deal of skillful work to make bread and wine.” I’ve been thinking about that ever since, and I think Merlin is right; there is something really significant there.
I suppose Jesus could have chosen wheat and grapes, or maybe even something found in the wild. He could have made his point without any objects at all, or He could have miraculously produced the bread and wine Himself, like He had with other miracles in other circumstances before. But Jesus picked up the bread and the wine from the table that was prepared before Him, the work of the hands of others.
While this certainly isn’t the main point of Communion, I’m glad that Jesus ordained this rich practice of the Gospel with these objects produced by human hands. In doing so, Jesus made a profound statement about the dignity of our work.
Apart from the miraculous, I doubt Jesus could make bread or wine. He could probably apply the skills of a carpenter when needed, but the skills of a winemaker or baker were outside of His experience. In order for this Holy moment to take place, Jesus had to rely on the skill and labor of others. Skilled farmers had to produce the wheat and the grapes. Others had to prepare the raw ingredients, skillfully storing them and perhaps transporting them. And yet others had to apply the crafts they had learned, likely passed down through generations and practiced for years before perfected. Countless skilled hands, and hours of labor, were represented as Jesus took the bread and the cup in His hands. The work of hands like ours, then in the hands of Jesus, all present as Jesus taught His Disciples, as well as us followers through the ages, the glorious Gospel.
And so it continues today. While I believe there is still room for the spectacularly miraculous, Jesus usually operates the same way, picking up the result of our work from the table prepared before Him. He takes it into His hands, and puts it into the work of the Gospel. We ought to consider all of our work like this. Whatever it is we work at, we should think of it as something that will ultimately be placed in the hands of Jesus for His good purpose.