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Christian communion, part 2

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By Michael Waits

Editor’s note: The first part of this series was published in the May 26 edition of the Spencer Magnet.

In a continued look at the biblical observance of the Lord’s Supper, we find according to the Gospel of Luke that on the first day of Unleavened Bread, the day in which the Passover lamb should be sacrificed according to Jewish custom, Jesus reclined at the table with the apostles to partake in the Passover meal (Luke 22:7, 13-14). It was during this time that He broke the bread after a blessing, passed the cup after giving thanks, and passed them to his disciples so they could participate in their last supper with the Lord (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:14-20).

It is important to note these facts about the Lord’s Supper taking place during Passover because it was the most holy feast of the Jewish religious year (Deuteronomy 16:1). It was during this time in which the Jewish people were commanded to observe their deliverance from the last plague on Egypt when God spared them by the blood of a lamb sprinkled on their doorposts and houses (Exodus 12:7, 13; Numbers 9:1-3). In the Old Testament, this pouring out of blood was reserved as a covenant between the Jewish people and God. Given this information, one could easily deduce that observing the Lord’s Supper might only be necessary one time each year; during the season of Passover in which the people looked forward to the Messiah fulfilling a new covenant. But Jesus came not to replace the old covenant; rather, he came to fulfill the new covenant with his own blood (Luke 22:20). This indicates to us once again that no requirements have been placed on Christians to observe this ceremony in any consistent fashion whatsoever; even by our Lord.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul made a statement not found in the Gospels regarding the Lord’s Supper. As he was passing the cup of the new covenant, Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Paul goes on to say, “For as often as you drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:25-26). The phrase “as often as you drink it,” stands out in each verse to proclaim that Christians, those who have submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ, are free to observe communion as often as they choose, as long as they do so in proclamation and reverence towards the Lord’s death.

In the same passage, Paul tells the church that each person must examine his or her self before eating of the bread and drinking of the cup (1 Cor. 11:28). He writes, “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord…For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly” (1 Cor. 11:27, 29). The strict requirements that are being placed on those who observe the Lord’s Supper are only this: it is important that one has a basic understanding of the gospel before receiving it.

Christ gave his body in death (the symbolization of the bread) and poured out his blood on the cross (the symbolization of the cup) for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24). When one takes part in the observance of the Lord’s Supper, he is claiming to do so with the acknowledgment that Christ died for sinners, that his body and blood were given as ransom for the guilt we have incurred through sin and the debt that is owed for that sin. To partake in the Lord’s Supper and not understand our position before God as unrighteous without Christ, we cannot possibly take part in it in a worthy manner.

Before one takes part in the Holy Communion, he should desire to make Jesus the Lord of his life and surrender himself to his service. His death is our life, and the observation of the Lord’s Supper is a celebration of his grace in our own redemption from sin and the debt that follows. By examining ourselves, as Paul says, to set right what we have done wrong; to admit that we have sin and turning aside from it and toward Christ, we can be found righteous by God through the saving act of our Lord on the cross.

No matter how often you observe the Lord’s Supper; weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly, a careful examination of where you stand before God is not merely a right, but a requirement. The Bible says, “If we say we have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:6-7). Do you have a relationship with Christ? Do you have the forgiveness of sin that comes only by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? If you can’t answer those questions confidently, I would be glad to share with you how you can have assurance of salvation in Christ.

Write me at michael@michaelwaits.com, I would enjoy hearing from you.