The Foundation of the Lord’s Supper

by APC on November 14, 2014

communion

“The Foundation of the Lord’s Supper” is the third segment in the Foundations for Growing series. Luke 6:47–48 is the focus scripture of this series, emphasizing that we should be “…founded upon a rock.”

Why Do We Take Communion?

Every year, the Passover was celebrated by the Jews to remember when the Death Angel passed over homes during Israel’s bondage in Egypt. Israel obeyed the command of God delivered by Moses to sacrifice their best lamb and paint blood on the door posts of their home. When the Death Angel passed over, the first born in their home would not be killed.

The Passover was designated to remember God’s grace to Israel, and to celebrate God bringing them out of bondage in Egypt. The blood shed would atone (save) the Jews yearly until the ultimate sacrifice was given. Jesus would soon become the Passover lamb.

Before the crucifixion, Jesus celebrated the Passover feast with His disciples. This time, the celebratory meal was different.

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom (Matthew 26:26–29, KJV).

What is Communion?

Communion is a sacred ordinance, exampled and commanded by Jesus in Matthew 26:26–29. Jesus took the bread and blessed it and took the cup and gave thanks—and both were given to the disciples to consume.

In I Corinthians 11:24–30, Paul recounts the story in Matthew 26 because the church at Corinth had started to participate in communion improperly. While culture today uses the verbiage “communion,” Paul referred to it as the “Lord’s Supper” (I Corinthians 11:20). In the Greek, Lord (kuriakos) means “belongs to Jehovah,” and Supper (deipnon) means “main meal.” Translated, this phrase means “the meal that belongs to the Lord.” When we join in communion—the Lord’s Supper—we are invited to God’s table to eat this meal for a very specific purpose.

What is the Purpose of the Lord’s Supper?

The Lord’s Supper Reminds Us of How Jesus Covered Our Past

No matter who we are, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We need God’s grace and salvation to make it to Heaven. There were two components of the Lord’s Supper: (1) bread—the symbol of the broken body of Christ, and (2) the blood—the shed blood of the Lord Jesus.

The Body

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me (I Corinthians 11:24, KJV).

When we partake of the Lord’s Supper we eat unleavened bread, which is bread without yeast. This is a part of the original meal of the Old Testament law (Exodus 12:17). When we eat the bread, Jesus instructed us to remember Him! We need to remember that His body was broken for us. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (KJV). Remember the cruelty of the cross; there was no worse punishment. The pain that Jesus felt when His body was broken—His bloodied back, the crown of thorns on His head, and the nails in His hands and feet—we should have felt it, but He took our place.

In John 2:19, Jesus says “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (KJV). Jesus was referring to His body! After Jesus was crucified on the cross, He died and was buried. But, on the third day He rose from the grave! We need to remember how Jesus not only resurrected His own body and claimed victory over death, but how He has resurrected us from the dead and brought us into newness of life (Romans 6:4).

The Blood

After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me (I Corinthians 11:25, KJV).

When Jesus died on the cross, His blood covered every sin that each of us have ever committed or will commit in our lifetime. The wage of sin is death, and there must be a blood sacrifice for the price of sin.

Jesus referred to His blood as the “fruit of the vine” in Matthew 26:28. After Jesus broke the bread and presented the cup, He said it was the “new testament in [his] blood” (I Corinthians 11:25). “Testament” means contract; Jesus was presenting a new contract, a new placeholder for the ultimate sacrifice for sin. Jesus became the lamb.

Jesus instructed the disciples to take all of the blood, which was not an instruction for the bread. There is significance in the blood! Leviticus 17:11 tells us that “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (KJV). The broken body did not cover our sin—Jesus’ blood is what is our ultimate atonement. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22).

The Lord’s Supper Consecrates the Present

It Demonstrates God’s Will to Commune with Us Over the Intimate Remembrance of His Sacrifice

Jesus noted in Luke 22:15 that He desired to eat the Passover meal with His disciples before He suffered on the cross. He had planned to be with His disciples in an intimate setting, an upper room, because He wanted to commune with them. When we partake in the Lord’s Supper, we are sharing in the blood of Christ with Him and with our church body.

It Demonstrates a Celebration of God’s Blessing in Our Life

When we partake in the Lord’s Supper we are celebrating the work of the cross. If it was not for Jesus’ sacrifice, we would not have the privilege of salvation and the honor of coming before His throne. Just as Jesus blessed the bread when He brake it, He continues to pour out blessings in our life every day.

It Demonstrates a Recommitment of Our Faith in the Work of the Cross

Every time we share in the Lord’s Supper we are demonstrating outwardly that we believe in it: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. We acknowledge that He is active and alive in our life! I Corinthians 11:26 says, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (KJV). We do not just “see” the purpose of Christ and the Lord’s Supper, but we show it. We can show others outwardly with our actions, behaviors, and involvement with the Lord’s Supper.

It Demonstrates Our Gratitude for Jesus’ Sacrifice for Our Sin

In both instances of scripture, Jesus gave thanks. Christians should use Jesus Christ as a model of behavior in our spiritual walk—if He did it, we should do it. Jesus included thanksgiving in the pattern for His Supper. Just as Jesus gave thanks, we should give thanks to Him before we participate in the Lord’s Supper. We should praise and thank the Lord for His work on the cross, and for everything He does for us every day in our lives.

The Lord’s Supper Anticipates the Future

For oft as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come (I Corinthians 11:26, KJV).

The Lord’s Supper is just as much about the future as it is in remembering the past and realizing the present. Jesus commanded the church to partake in his Supper until His return. When Jesus returns, He will rapture the church. In Revelation 22:20 Jesus provides final parting words: …surely I come quickly (KJV). As we partake in the Lord’s Supper, we look to the future anticipating His return in the clouds for His church, but look to the past to thank Him for the miracle of the cross.

How Do We Approach Communion?

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body (I Corinthians 11:27–29, KJV).

If we do not understand the purpose of the Lord’s Supper, or reverence it as we should, we bring upon ourselves the guilt of the Lord’s body (the guilt He took for us on the cross). In the Corinthian church, the Lord’s Supper had turned into an obnoxious fellowship, and members were gorging themselves in the meal instead of eating at home. We need to understand what the Lord’s Supper is about, and not make light about what the cross did for us.

Paul noted, “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” (I Corinthians 11:30, KJV). The church was sickly and some members had even died because of the sin in their lives and irreverence shown toward the Lord’s Supper. Partaking in this meal is a serious activity to God, and our lives depend on how we act about it. The Supper and the cross are worth our sincere reverence.

Scripture tells us to “examine” (test) ourselves to make sure we are worthy and ready to partake in the Supper. Repentance should always be the first step in our “remembrance” of the Lord’s Supper. We need to approach this fellowship with the Master with a clean heart and right spirit. Our minds should not be on the way of the world, but the Word and God’s holy presence.

Remember…

Paul tells us in Hebrews 10:19–20, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (KJV). Paul was referring to the tabernacle’s inner room—the holiest of holies, that housed the Ark of the Covenant and mercy seat—where the very presence of God dwelled.

It is because of the sacrifice of Jesus that we can walk into the presence of God. We cannot take for granted the privilege we have of being in the God’s presence, and partaking in His Supper. It was His broken body that made a way for us, and His blood that covered every sin.