What is Communion

March 3, 2014

What is Communion?

In Communion, we are reminded of the greatest gift of all, Jesus, and refreshed and renewed by his grace as we participate in a holy meal with him. What a great privilege! It’s not one to be taken lightly.

 A study of the Lord’s Supper is a soul-stirring experience because of the depth of meaning it contains. It was during the age-old celebration of the Passover on the eve of His death that Jesus instituted a significant new fellowship meal that we observe to this day. It is an integral part of Christian worship. It causes us to remember our Lord’s death and resurrection and to look for His glorious return in the future.

The Passover was the most sacred feast of the Jewish religious year. It commemorated the final plague on Egypt when the firstborn of the Egyptians died and the Israelites were spared because of the blood of a lamb that was sprinkled on their doorposts. The lamb was then roasted and eaten with unleavened bread. God’s command was that throughout the generations to come the feast would be celebrated. The story is recorded in Exodus 12.

During the Last Supper—a Passover celebration—Jesus took a loaf of bread and gave thanks to God. As He broke it and gave it to His disciples, He said, “’This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’”Luke 22:19 – 21.  He concluded the feast by singing a hymn Matthew 26:30 and they went out into the night to the Mount of Olives. It was there that Jesus was betrayed, as predicted, by Judas. The following day He was crucified.

The accounts of the Lord’s Supper are found in the Gospels Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:17-19, Luke 22:7-22 & John 13:21-30.  The apostle Paul wrote concerning the Lord’s Supper in I Corinthians 11:23-29.    Paul includes a statement not found in the Gospels: “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself” I Corinthians 11:27-29 . We may ask what it means to partake of the bread and the cup “in an unworthy manner.” It may mean to disregard the true meaning of the bread and cup and to forget the tremendous price our Savior paid for our salvation. Or it may mean to allow the ceremony to become a dead and formal ritual or to come to the Lord’s Supper with unconfessed sin. In keeping with Paul’s instruction, we should examine ourselves before eating the bread and drinking the cup.

Another statement Paul made that is not included in the gospel accounts is “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” I Corinthians 11:26. This places a time limit on the ceremony—until our Lord’s return. From these brief accounts we learn how Jesus used two of the frailest of elements as symbols of His body and blood and initiated them to be a monument to His death. It was not a monument of carved marble or molded brass, but of bread and wine.

He declared that the bread spoke of His body which would be broken. There was not a broken bone, but His body was so badly tortured that it was hardly recognizable Psalms 22:12-17, Isaiah 53:4-7.  The wine spoke of His blood, indicating the terrible death He would soon experience. He, the perfect Son of God, became the fulfillment of the countless Old Testament prophecies concerning a Redeemer Genesis 3:15,  Psalms  22; Isaiah 53. When He said, “Do this in remembrance of me,” He indicated this was a ceremony that must be continued in the future. It indicated also that the Passover, which required the death of a lamb and looked forward to the coming of the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world, was fulfilled in the Lord’s Supper. The New Covenant replaced the Old Covenant when Christ, the Passover Lamb I Corinthians 5:7,    was sacrificed Hebrews 8:8-13.   The sacrificial system was no longer needed Hebrews 9:25-28.   The Lord’s Supper/Christian Communion is a remembrance of what Christ did for us and a celebration of what we receive as a result of His sacrifice.

In addition we see that meals play a significant part of biblical history.

Adam and Eve broke communion with God over a meal eaten without the blessing of God in the book of Genesis. The Israelites Celebrated Passover thanking God for the victory out of Eguptian bondage and protection that was granted as the death angel passed over them. In the New Testament the Lord celebrated Passover with the disciples and instituted The Lord Super and Communion a type of meal remembering the sacrifice of our Lord and savior. Then finally the Book of Revelation describes the meal in Heaven called the marriage supper of the Lamb where we celebrate in heaven together. When we take communion or when we gather to give thanks for any meal it’s good to reflect on the story of the bible and invite God into that celebration… Thank about it… In a very real way… we are actuality practicing for heaven!


I’ll leave you with some practical tips on how to approach Communion.


Much like my wife and I take care to prepare and plan for our Sunday dinners with our family, we must all take the time to prepare for the meal with our Savior. This means examining our hearts, repenting of sin, and turning our affections towards Christ.


The best part of my Sunday dinners is the conversations! Food is a great opportunity to commune and enjoy each other’s company. The Lord’s Supper is no different. Take the time of Communion to converse with God through prayer.


Don’t just eat to get the meal over with—remember what the meal points to. Jesus’ body was broken for you, and his blood was spilled for you. Because of this, you have new life and are unified with Christ and his body. Your sins are forgiven. You are a son or daughter of God. You will one day feast with Jesus in heaven (Rev.19: 6-9).


Most of all, view Communion not as a ritual to be completed in a routine way but rather as a celebration to be received and partaken with joy and rejoicing. No one would go to a dinner party with a dour face, eat as fast as they could, and then leave. Neither should we treat dinner with our Lord and Savior the same way. This is a time of celebration! Treat is as such.

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