Growing up in church, I didn’t understand Communion all that much. As far back as I can remember, we took Communion on what we called “Watch Night Service”. This was a service held on December 31st every year and we would watch the New Year come in together as a church body. However, we also had what I thought, was one of the most terrifying practices ever. Keep in mind, I was but a young boy at the time. The practice was called foot washing and Communion. We would gather tubs of water and take turns washing one another’s feet and then after that, we would take communion. Over the years that practice faded away. I now know that it didn’t just fade away in my local church, but that it faded away in a lot of churches. I read an article about a denomination that practiced Communion each Sunday, but over the last few years they have gone completely away from practicing Communion. What was once emphasized is now forgotten. I feel that we are one of the first generations in the history of the church that doesn’t emphasize Communion; however, if you want biblical results you must do biblical things. The early church, you know the book of Acts church which stands as the model church, kept Communion as being something central to life. Just read the book of Acts and you will see how the church remembered the Lord’s Supper and so should we!
As with anything, if we aren’t consistently reminded of the importance of something, that something will lose its value.
Just a little while after the initial Communion, the Apostle Paul reminds the church located at Corinth of the importance of Communion.
Look at what Paul writes about Communion:
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
The New King James Version. (1982). (1 Co 11:23–26). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Paul uses the text to remind us of what Jesus stated at the institution of Communion. Jesus asked that we remember Him. That we remember why He came, what He did for us and what that does for you. How do you remember that? It is through Communion, the breaking of bread and drinking from the cup. Paul said that as often as we do this, we are to remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. We should be drawn back to this often until Jesus returns. We likewise should never get so familiar or so used to Communion or the Cross, that we fail to remember that is was the Ultimate Sacrifice. Familiarity breeds contempt.
We should at the time of Communion remember this free gift of salvation nearly bankrupted heaven of it’s most precious gift, Jesus Christ. It really wasn’t free, there was a cost associated with it. It is free to us, but Jesus paid it all. That’s what we remember through Communion.
Paul says to the church at Corinth, if you cannot remember what the Sacrifice cost or what it afforded you, there is a risk involved in that. As a matter of fact, you could be compared to those that jeered, mocked and spit on Jesus as He went to Calvary. It should be that when we take Communion, it is with reverence and remembrance or in awe that the King of kings would lay down His life for me. That what the Prophet Isaiah declared would happen, did happen and it happened for me and because of me. Here’s what Isaiah stated of Jesus:
3He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
The New King James Version. (1982). (Is 53:3–5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
In that text we find the cost of every benefit that we, as the people of God, have through the Cross of Calvary.
He was smitten by God and afflicted. He was wounded, bruised, mocked, despised, rejected and whipped. Yet He borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Through each of those there was a benefit attached to us that we must remember through Communion.
He took your grief upon Himself.
He carried your sorrows.
He was wounded for your transgressions.
He was wounded or pierced by the thorns, the nails, and the spear.
He was bruised for our iniquities. The word bruised is used because there wasn’t an expression in the Hebrew language that could describe the severity of the suffering of Jesus.
He was crushed by the amount of punishment inflicted upon Him.
He was chastised for our peace. This put a stop to the punishment or correction that the sin of our lives demanded. He took the punishment and the correction and put us at peace with God (Romans 5:1).
He took the stripes so that we are healed. The medical doctors state there are different types of wounds: abrasion, contusion, laceration, penetration, perforation and an incision.
Jesus suffered all of these.
The contusion happened when He was struck and beaten.
The laceration happened when He was scourged with a flagellum.
The abrasion happened when they pulled the clothing from His wounded back.
The penetration happened when they forced the crown of thorns upon His head.
The perforation happened when they drove the spikes through His hands and feet.
The incision happened when the spear was thrust through His side.
Why would He go through all of that? Why did He have to absorb every single one of those? So that you could be healed!
Communion must cause us to remember that He went through all of this so that we could escape it. He was broken, bruised, beaten and bloodied so that we wouldn’t have to be.
Paul states it like this in 1 Corinthians 11:27 – 30 (The Message):
27-28 Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.
29-32 If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences. That’s why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave. If we get this straight now, we won’t have to be straightened out later on. Better to be confronted by the Master now than to face a fiery confrontation later.
Paul is saying when we don’t value the cost of Calvary, or we fail to remember the cost of Calvary or when we do not take advantage of what was provided at the Cross of Calvary, then we remain in a condition that has been conquered!
Communion is not just a common tradition or ritual; it’s powerful. Communion represents the benefits of the cross by reminding us of what was paid for and how it was paid.
There is no need for you to die spiritually, emotionally or physically to things that have been conquered by the body and the blood of Jesus Christ!
I believe one reason that communion is fought so hard by our enemy is that he knows the power that is in it. I also believe that we don’t take communion because we feel that we must be perfect in order to partake in it.
We read the words of Paul and we feel unworthy to partake of the Lord’s Supper. We believe that if we are struggling or have succumbed to the struggle, we are disqualified from partaking in Communion. I would tell you that Communion is the answer! Communion reminds us that Jesus’ blood washes away sin’s stain!
One man said it like this, “If this passage disqualifies you from taking communion, then it would be equivalent to…
- a doctor saying to a sick person, “Get well, and then come and see me,”
- a loan officer saying to a poor person, “You need a loan? Get some money, and then I can help you”; or,
- a cook saying to someone who is hungry, “Starving? Gain some weight, and I’ll give you a meal.”
What I see there is that all three people recognized their shortcoming, weakness and/or need. They went to someone who had the power to change their circumstance! Isn’t that what we do at Communion?
By remembering and partaking of Communion, I recognize my weakness, my sin, my failure! But I also remember that through His body and blood, I am victorious! In my weakness, He is made strong! That’s why we must remember through Communion.
As often as you do this, remember!