Communion, one of the most mysterious and interesting Christian rituals in all of scripture. But why did Jesus institute it? Was it merely do give us something to do so we wouldn’t become bored? There must be more to it. God would not give us a useless tradition or a meaningless ritual. He knew exactly what He was doing, and why He was giving us the remembrance of Communion.
Today we are going to explore the amazing blessings contained within Communion, and how it’s an amazing proclamation of what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us.
Contemplating the Sacrifice
When the typical communion service is held in a church gathering, it tends to follow a specific pattern:
A portion of 1st Corinthians 11 is read, small waters and little cups of grape juice are handed-out to the congregation, and the pastor usually speaks about how the bread represents Jesus’ body, and the cup of grape juice represents Jesus’ blood.
Then some introspective music is played why everyone sits silently and then eats the bread and drinks the cup in unison.
There’s nothing wrong with the basic outline , but it rarely (if ever) goes beyond that basic formula. Once I asked the participants if they knew what the blood of Christ was shed for, and they told me that it was for the forgiveness of sins.
I then asked what the body of Christ was broken for… and they immediately had a bewildered look on their face as they struggled for an answer.
No-one knows, because it is never taught anymore. Have you ever thought about the reasons for both the broken body and shed blood of Christ? Have you ever meditated on it?
We know from Amos chapter 3, that God does nothing without a plan, purpose or reason. So why the body and the blood? Why not only the body or only the blood, what’s the reason for both of them? Let’s tale a look at some of the details found in 1st Corinthians 11, that commonly get overlooked.
The Finished Work of Christ in Communion
Although 1st Corinthians is often read during a communion service, it’s read in such a memorized way, that oftentimes details are missed. Consider with me, 1st Corinthians 11:23-24 to start with:
“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered to you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.”
Many of us have heard these words quoted so many times, that we can recite them from memory. However I encourage you to take a step back, slow down, and calmly meditate on these words. There is a very personal aspect to what Jesus says in these verses. Even though a typical communion service is held corporately, the focus is very much on the individual and person union between Jesus and each of us.
As verse 23 points out, these were some of the very last things that Jesus did and said before going to the cross, so they must be important. And in verse 24, we can see that Jesus took bread, and He gave thanks for it, even before He broke the bread. We often don’t consider this point, but everything that Jesus did here is significant.
Jesus goes on to tell us that the bread represents His body, and we should always be thankful for the sacrifice that has been made available to us through Him.
Now I mentioned that this is also personal, and we can see this aspect of it right here in verse 24. Take notice of the specific details which Jesus says here:
Take, eat, this is My body, Broken for you.
I’ve emphasized a few key points to consider. First Jesus says something that might seem obvious, but contains some deeper truth. In handing the bread which represents His body, He tells them to take and eat.
It seems almost silly, but Jesus had to encourage them to take what He was offering them, and more often than not, we need to be encouraged to take what He is offering us as well. Either because we don’t consider ourselves worthy of it… or sometimes we refuse His generous gifts out of a strange sense of false humility. True humility is actually the humble acceptance of what Jesus offers you as a free gift.
Next we see what He offers, His own body as the sacrifice and payment of our sin. This is His body Broken for you. His body, not ours. His body bears the punishment. His body suffers the consequences. And this gives us the first clue as to the distinction between the body and the blood.
His body was broken. Many times we fail to consider this important fact. We fail to see what He truly accomplished for us. He suffered the effects, consequences and curse of sin in His own body, in our place.
This is where it really gets down to the personal level. Jesus’ body was broken for you. This isn’t just a group act, but an individual gift, for you individually on a personal level. He suffered the punishment and curse that was due to you personally!
Often this gets overlooked, but Jesus mentioned this aspect of His sacrifice first. He wanted us to take and eat this portion of His sacrifice as much as the rest. And there are plenty of people today who desperately need this aspect of Jesus’ sacrifice.
Jesus Suffered in His Body, To Restore Yours
A great number of believers today, do not actually believe this, and that lack of belief can have terrible consequences. Take a look at 1st Corinthians 11:28-32:
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”
Now we are going to examine this in more detail next week, but for today, as we close out this first part of our study, check out verses 28 through 30. After examining himself (which again, we will cover next week) notice that whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of Christ without discerning the Lord’s body, actually eats and drinks damnation and judgment to themselves. Verse 30 then continues on to say that For this cause, many are weak and sick among you, and many have fallen asleep.
I encourage you today my friend, to take some real time to meditate on these details during the week, because it is so very important for health and peace and life.
And I look forward to thriving with you again next week.