Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, is breaking bread and drinking from the cup with the living, risen Jesus Christ and with our brothers and sisters in Christ at the Lord’s Table.
Like baptism, Holy Communion is regarded by Protestants as a sacrament. That is, it’s an act of worship ordained by Christ and is a means of grace. This does not mean that we become any more worthy of God’s grace by taking part in Communion.
Rather, we open ourselves to the divine love that’s already there; we become more ready to receive that love and to respond to it.
A sacrament has these characteristics: Jesus Christ asked his followers to do it (“Do this in remembrance of me…”); there is some physical symbol to it (bread and wine); God has promised to give his grace, to which the response is faith.
Biblical teaching on the Holy Communion.
We see the mentioning of the Holy Communion or Eucharist in all the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), and in Paul’s 1st epistle to the Corinthians: Matthew 26:17-19, Mark 14:12-16, Luke 22:17-20, 1 Corinthians 11:2-34. Lots of lessons can be extracted from these portions of scriptures:
- Jesus Is The Reason For The Communion.
In Mark 14:22-24, we see that in the first day of the feast of the unleavened bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus also, together with His disciples went to celebrate the feast. With regard to what happened at the table we read: And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many.
In so saying, Jesus revealed that He is indeed the true Passover Lamb.
- The Elements Of The Holy Communion Are Symbolic.
The second lesson we draw from these passages of scripture regarding Holy Communion is that the elements used are just emblems of what actually transpired on the cross. The broken bread represents the battered body of our Lord and the wine represents Christ’s shed blood.
They should not be seen to represent anything more than that. The bread and wine never turn to Christ’s actual body and blood, as those who embrace the doctrine of transubstantiation suggest.
While others take real wine during the communion, and others take juice; it should be noted that none is more preferable as long as partakers agree that the elements are mere representations. We must refrain from making more out of the ritual than otherwise intended. The Lamb of God (Jesus) should be the focus, not the ritual.
- The Holy Communion Is A Proclamation.
Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:26 told the Corinthian church that partaking of the Holy Communion is a declaration of Christ’s death: For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. By taking the bread and the wine in Holy Communion, the believer publicly shows that the living Christ has died for his or her sin. This should continue until when the Lord comes back, when there will be no more need of proclamation. The Holy Communion should be taken as often as possible. Certainly, the Holy Scriptures does not specify the frequency of tis proclamation. Some do it daily, others weekly.
- The Holy Communion Should Be Taken In The Context Of The Fellowship Of Believers.
The Passover was a Jewish annual feast that was accompanied with much eating and commemoration of the deliverance from the Egyptian bondage. The Apostle Paul in linking Passover with the ultimate sacrifice for sin by the death of Christ, who is the Lamb that taketh away the sin of man, gave this feast a new dimension. The believers were to take it in an orderly manner, waiting for one another (fellowship). It also suggests that to serve the Holy Communion to self or to one’s family misses the point of the fellowship that the Lord had intended.
- The Holy Communion Is For The Saved.
The communion is a commemoration of what Christ did on the cross and continues to do for each individual communicant. For this reason, the unsaved, who do not have a relationship with the Lord, the infants, the very young children who have not reached the age of accountability, are inexcusably barred from partaking of it. Parents should therefore restrain their children from taking the Holy Communion unworthily. Even the believers must examine themselves and repent of any sin, especially relational sins that affect the believers’ fellowship.
Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper is a mystery too deep for words. Its meaning will vary for each of us and from one time to another.
BY KENNEDY O. BARUKH.