Communion – The Lord’s Supper
There is no doubt that over the centuries what know as communion or the Lord’s Supper has lost the impact in the very essence of its meaning. In observing this promise we have from Jesus, a covenant of sorts, we as believers are to experience the love that lies in what was accomplished to fulfill this promise. The best place to learn about this is by going back to where it all started. Now if you think this started the night before the sacrifice of Jesus then this is probably part of the problem right there. No this wondrous event started many centuries before that in the time when Israel went from dwelling in Egypt to being slaves prior to their exodus.
Exodus 12:1-11 “And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 Let this month be to you the first of months, the first month of the year. 3 Say to all the children of Israel when they are come together, In the tenth day of this month every man is to take a lamb, by the number of their fathers’ families, a lamb for every family: 4 And if the lamb is more than enough for the family, let that family and its nearest neighbor have a lamb between them, taking into account the number of persons and how much food is needed for every man. 5 Let your lamb be without a mark, a male in its first year: you may take it from among the sheep or the goats: 6 Keep it till the fourteenth day of the same month, when everyone who is of the children of Israel is to put it to death between sundown and dark. 7 Then take some of the blood and put it on the two sides of the door and over the door of the house where the meal is to be taken. 8 And let your food that night be the flesh of the lamb, cooked with fire in the oven, together with unleavened bread and bitter-tasting plants. 9 Do not take it uncooked or cooked with boiling water, but let it be cooked in the oven; its head with its legs and its inside parts. 10 Do not keep any of it till the morning; anything which is not used is to be burned with fire. 11 And take your meal dressed as if for a journey, with your shoes on your feet and your sticks in your hands: take it quickly: it is the Lord’s Passover.”
The important element that I want to point out here is the lamb. Almost everyone who has heard this account or about Jesus, has heard him called the lamb of God, and this is a reason why. Note the lamb had to be perfect because it was to be a symbol of Jesus and there is more that we can go into but I want to keep this simple. Once the lamb was slain the blood was placed around the door posts and the lentil, which is the top of the door frame. This would provide the barrier so that death would not enter into the house. We reap the benefits of the blood of the lamb of God now because of another sacrifice of a lamb for the atonement of sins. As believers we know that the blood of Jesus was an atonement once and for all for all sins and because of his death and resurrection we know that as believers we will never experience death. But I want to stay on this symbol of Jesus in the Passover. The part of this that many never think about is that the Jews were to eat all of the lamb and not leave any of it for the next day. Why was it so imperative that they eat the lamb?
Had it not been for a Psalm we may have never known, but because of Psalms 105 we have a record of what took place. Verse 37 reads “He took his people out with silver and gold: there was not one feeble person among them.” This is a recollection of the event that took place right after the Passover known as the Exodus. Notice that out of all the millions of people that left, because they ate of the lamb there was not one feeble among them. Everyone left Egypt in good health.
Many do not realize that this is only one of several ways the God provided health to those who were still under the old covenant. Every year as the Jews would eat the Passover they were able to receive restoration of their health. But lets continue on to help us understand how this evolved into the Lord’s Supper.
Our next revelation comes about again in Exodus just shortly after the Jews left Egypt. Exodus 16:4 “Then the Lord said to Moses, See, I will send down bread from heaven for you; and the people will go out every day and get enough for the day’s needs; so that I may put them to the test to see if they will keep my laws or not.” Now in and of itself we may not understand the full impact from just this verse, but when you study the lives of the Israelites during there time in the wilderness one settle thing starts to stand out. None of these people were ever sick or died prematurely from a disease. Under normal circumstances they died of old age only. Jesus himself hints to us as to why.
John 6:31-35 KJV Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
The bread, or manna, that they ate from heaven was a symbol of who was to come in Jesus. And just as Jesus would give life they bread being a faithful symbol also gave life.
John 6:48-58, “I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers took the manna in the waste land–and they are dead. 50 The bread which comes from heaven is such bread that a man may take it for food and never see death. 51 I am the living bread which has come from heaven: if any man takes this bread for food he will have life for ever: and more than this, the bread which I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world. 52 Then the Jews had an angry discussion among themselves, saying, How is it possible for this man to give us his flesh for food? 53 Then Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, If you do not take the flesh of the Son of man for food, and if you do not take his blood for drink, you have no life in you. 54 He who takes my flesh for food and my blood for drink has eternal life: and I will take him up from the dead at the last day. 55 My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 He who takes my flesh for food and my blood for drink is in me and I in him. 57 As the living Father has sent me, and I have life because of the Father, even so he who takes me for his food will have life because of me. 58 This is the bread which has come down from heaven. It is not like the food which your fathers had: they took of the manna, and are dead; but he who takes this bread for food will have life for ever.”
In this passage Jesus is reinforcing the symbolism of the bread, manna, which was from heaven which gave health and life to all who ate of it as being himself. We also have already seen then that Jesus is known as the lamb of God which was symbolized in one way at the Passover meal and now known as the bread of life which was the manna from heaven.
Bread was chosen by God to be a symbol of health and life and in understanding this we can see how God as made it so anyone who believes can walk in health. Jesus expounded upon this idea with a Canaanite woman who came seeking his help. Matthew 15:21-28 (Mark 7:24-30) “And Jesus went away from there into the country of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And a woman of Canaan came out from those parts, crying and saying, Have pity on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is greatly troubled with an unclean spirit. 23 But he gave her no answer. And his disciples came and said to him, Send her away, for she is crying after us. 24 But he made answer and said, I was sent only to the wandering sheep of the house of Israel. 25 But she came and gave him worship, saying, Help, Lord. 26 And he made answer and said, It is not right to take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs. 27 But she said, Yes, Lord: but even the dogs take the bits from under their masters’ table. 28 Then Jesus, answering, said to her, O woman, great is your faith: let your desire be done. And her daughter was made well from that hour.” Jesus called healing the children’s bread, something that they were all to experience in their lives as just a basic component to sustain life.
Matthew 26:26-29 (Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:17-20) “And when they were taking food, Jesus took bread and, after blessing it, he gave the broken bread to the disciples and said, Take it; this is my body. 27 And he took a cup and, having given praise, he gave it to them, saying, 28 Take of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the testament, which is given for men for the forgiveness of sins. 29 But I say to you that from now I will not take of this fruit of the vine, till that day when I take it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” It is at this point that all this symbolism starts to come alive. Jesus clearly states that this bread represents his body and when we eat the bread we are partaking of his body. Now many still may not, in these scriptures alone, fully understand what it means when we eat the bread but let us look at this same account from Paul’s perspective.
Right off the back the most interesting thing to me about the Lord’s Supper is how important this is to God. Jesus said that he was looking forward to the day he would get to eat this meal, though he had partaken in the Passover all of his life from childhood. In fact it is so important that Jesus himself described it to Paul. Remember that at the time this communion took place Paul was known as Saul and he saw Passover from a different perspective. He was no where near Jesus or the disciples during this time or he would have been trying to rid the world of them. Here is the account as noted in Paul’s first letter to Corinth. 1 Corinthians 11:23-30 “23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”
So Paul learned of this straight from Jesus, it was not something he caught wind of from the Big 12 on a visit to Jerusalem. And Jesus expounded upon one point when He said that the bread that was eaten was a symbol of His body broken for you. At the time this meal was eaten this had not yet been fulfilled. To me personally this is something that we as believers do not embrace enough and I really think that comes from not being as thankful as we should be. Really take a moment and try to envision what Jesus physically and mentally went through for you. Jesus who was without sin could not physically die because of that very reason. Death came through sin and one who has never sinned is immune to death. Jesus himself said that no man could take his life but that he would lay it down. He was not making an arrogant boast like many think, but he was emphatically stating a fact. Jesus knew the degree of suffering he would endure so that you would be whole and knew just as well that no matter how much torture he went through they could not kill him. Not because this would mess up the overall plan of God, but because it was impossible. There comes a point in being tortured that one makes a transition from just wanting to be free from it by it stopping to being free from it by simply ceasing to exist and this is a point that Jesus could never cross over too.
In this sacrifice then of himself prophecy was fulfilled. Most know this one because they have heard it so many times. Isaiah foretells of this event in Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” and then Peter confirms of this taking place in 1 Peter 2:24 “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” Because of this fact is the reason that not only should every believer walk in total health, but why even those who are not believers can be healed. The reality of this matter is that sin has been done away with in Jesus through his blood being shed as an atonement once and for all for sins. But the effects of sin that have manifested in the lives of people also have been redeemed through the body of Christ. What this means then is simply put as a believer the effects of sin should never have influence in your life going forward because you are walking in the benefits of the finished works of Jesus through his blood. You are to be no more sin conscience but life or Christ conscience. However the effects of sin which have already manifested in ones life also have been removed and replace with total restoration through His body so life’s experience going forward should be just as if one had never sinned ever. There are no scars from sins past and no influence from sin in your future. The minute we start to believe or think contrary to this then we are saying what Jesus did was incomplete or not good enough, which is not the case because scripture tells us through Paul that what Jesus did was much greater than what sin could ever do.
Romans 5:10-20 “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. 12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:”
The reality is quite simply that anything which resulted from sin God overcame in great abundance to not only rectify the situation but to so overshadow it with His goodness that it is engulfed in such a vastness that one could not even tell anything had ever occurred.
Understanding though that Jesus is the bread of life and that by His stripes, the scourging that would have killed any other man, we were healed is not the end of this. Because of this Paul was able to give us even greater revelation.
1 Corinthians 10:16-17 “16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”
Paul states something here that many do not take to heart or quite grasp. The reality is that when we eat of the body, the bread, we are recognizing the fact that we are part of the body, a single body that is the bread of life, which is Christ Jesus. In this we fail to see that if we are part of his body then we are whole as he is whole. No one who knows Jesus can honestly say they can envision him being sick or left to live an inferior quality of life then what our Father desired for Him, yet we easily turn on ourselves and say that we are not like Him. And this is where we are as wrong as we possibly can be. There is not doubt that we are not each Jesus himself but we are like him as sons of God, just not the only begotten Son. Too many think we are to strive to become like Jesus when in reality Jesus reveals to us who we already are. When you see the Father in Jesus as though it were a reflection in a mirror, you are also looking at yourself. The essence of who Jesus is is the same essence that identifies you. So when we correctly perceive Jesus we should identify ourselves with that perception. If we cannot imagine Jesus in lack or need then we should acknowledge this is how we are also. Not because of anything we have done or could do but because Jesus has accomplished all things for us and in him we were reconciled unto our Father and restored just as if we had never doubted God to begin with.
Our experience and quality of life are a direct result of trusting in God and solely resting in Him. Think of Adam, what did he do or create? Was he not given all things by God? He could not add anything to improve his life and yet when he tried it was considered rebellion against God because Adam was declaring that God could not or did not meet all his needs.
Luke 24:28-31 “And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. 29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. 30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.“