WE BELIEVE the Lord’s Supper, consisting of the elements of bread and the fruit of the vine, is the symbol expressing our sharing the divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:4); a memorial of His sufferings and death (1 Cor 11:26); and a prophecy of His second coming (1 Cor 11:26), and is enjoined upon all believers “until He comes”. Luke 22:15-20; Matt 26:26-28; Acts 20:7.
As we saw in our last lesson, an ordinance is the outward sign of an inward work. We believe Jesus only established two ordinances for us to observe. (i.e.) Water Baptism (which was covered in the previous lesson) and the Lord’s Supper which is covered in this lesson. The Lord’s Supper is also referred to as Communion, which speaks of the relationship between Jesus and believers.
IT IS A COMMAND OF CHRIST
Luke 22:19, Jesus said, “This is My Body which is given for you, DO THIS in remembrance of Me”.
1 Cor 11:23,25 Paul said, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you … This do as often as you drink it in remembrance of Me”.
1 Cor 11:26, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”
THE MEANING OF THE LORD’S SUPPER
It is a constant reminder that Jesus made atonement for us.
The broken bread reminds us of His broken body which was given for us that our sins may be forgiven. (See lesson 7 on Atonement).
22:19, “And He took the bread, gave thanks and broke it and gave it to them saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you.'”
The cup reminds us of the shed blood of Christ, the blood that is able to wash away our sins. This was the establishment of the new covenant whereby men do not have to offer up the blood of animals to receive forgiveness but simply exercise faith in the blood of Christ.
Matthew 26:27-28, “Then He took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the remission of sins”.
It is a proclamation by the church that they believe the death of Christ is the foundation of their salvation and it’s remembrance bears repeating.
Cor 11:26, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death”.
It is a constant reminder that He hasn’t forgotten us but is coming back to finalise the work that He began in our lives.
1 Cor 11:26, “You proclaim the Lord’s death, TILL HE COMES”.
It unites the Body of Christ into one.
we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we not only have fellowship with Him, but also with one another.
Cor 10:16,17, “The bread which we break, does it not mean that in eating it we participate in and share a fellowship, a communion, in the body of Christ. For we, no matter how numerous we are, are one body, because we all partake of the one Bread, the One whom the communion bread represents.” (Amplified).
It is a constant reminder of the Person of Christ.
His love, compassion, character, miracles, teaching.
Cor 11:25, “This do as often as you drink it, IN REMEMBRANCE of Me”.
THE NEW TESTAMENT PRECEDENT
Jesus shared communion with the disciples on the night of the Passover, Matt 26:26 – 30.
The Early Church observed it as one of their earliest practises, Acts 2:42. Note: The breaking of bread is another term used for the Lord’s Supper.
The Early Church did not restrict it to public worship, but partook of the Lord’s Supper from house to house, Acts 2:46.
It was the disciples custom to partake of the Lord’s Supper on Sundays, Acts 20:7,11.
The clearest teaching that the New Testament church observed the Lord’s Supper as an ordinance, is found in Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor 11:23 – 26.
A SPECIAL NOTE.
Jesus said in Jn 6:51, “I am the living bread. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever…The bread that I shall give is My flesh.” Jesus is using typology to signify that partaking of Him gives life.
He then continues in John 6:53,54, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life”.
Again, Jesus is using typology showing the importance of partaking of His divine nature. We believe that the bread in the Lord’s Supper represents the flesh of Christ and the fruit of the vine represents His blood. In the Lord’s Supper is the fulfilment of the above Scriptures. We do not believe that the bread becomes the physical and actual flesh of Christ. We believe that the Scripture clearly teaches that the Lord’s Supper is the representation of the flesh and blood of Christ.
How often should we do it? As often as you will, till He comes. The early church had a custom of celebrating the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week. We follow suit but there is nothing stopping Christians from celebrating from house to house whenever they wish.
The Lord’s Supper is the celebration of Christians remembering that Jesus is the victor. He is our champion. It reminds us that because He lives, we will live forever. Let us not take it for granted but enter into a time of tremendous celebration, rejoicing and thanksgiving every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper.
Teaching Copyright (C) 1999 John Iuliano (M.A. Min). All rights reserved. Published here with permission.