1 Corinthians 11: 23-26.
23 “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
Communion is an essential part of Christian worship. It causes us to remember our Lord’s death and resurrection and to look for His glorious return in the future. If we read on in this part of scripture, Paul adds:
27 “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.”
We may ask what it means to partake of the bread and the cup “in an unworthy manner.” It may mean to disregard the true meaning of the bread and cup and to forget the tremendous price our Savior paid for our salvation. Or it may mean to allow the ceremony to become a dead and formal ritual or to come to the Lord’s Supper with unconfessed sin. In keeping with Paul’s teaching, we should examine ourselves before eating the bread and drinking the cup.
Jesus declared that the bread spoke of His body which would be broken. There was not a broken bone, but His body was so badly tortured that it was barely recognizable. The wine spoke of His blood, indicating the terrible death He would soon experience. When He said, “Do this in remembrance of me,” He indicated this was a ceremony that must be continued in the future. It indicated also that the Passover, which required the death of a lamb and looked forward to the coming of the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world, was fulfilled in the Lord’s Supper. The New Covenant replaced the Old Covenant when Christ, the Passover Lamb, was sacrificed. The sacrificial system of the Old Testament was no longer needed. The Lord’s Supper is a remembrance of what Christ did for us and a celebration of what we receive as a result of His sacrifice.
First, we should look back. We are to participate in Communion in remembrance of Christ. Though we must be reverent and appreciative of what Communion symbolizes, Communion also speaks of intimacy and fellowship. And so we look back. We look back to the cross. We remember what Christ accomplished for us. And we are reminded of His love for us.
Second, we are to look ahead. The Scriptures say to do this “until he comes again.” The first time Jesus came to this earth, He came as the Suffering Servant. The next time, He will come as the Conquering King. Communion is an observance to remind us that Jesus will come again.
Third, Communion is a time to look within. We are to look within and ask the Holy Spirit to show us any areas of our lives that may not be pleasing to God. Once we acknowledge these areas, we are to repent of these sins. To fail to do so, it is to eat and drink, “not honoring the body of Christ.”
So come to the Communion table in joy. Come in reverence. Come in honesty.