The Lord`s Supper

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“The Lord’s Supper”
By Rev. Jeremy McKeen
The Lord’s Supper, or Communion, is one of the most meaningful acts of worship that has marked the
Christian Church since the time of Christ. But what’s so significant about eating a tiny cracker and drinking a
small cup of juice? And why are we now doing this weekly as a church?
The Significance
Communion was established by Christ on the night of His betrayal (1 Cor.11:23) and practiced regularly by
the early church (Acts 2:42; 20:7) to be continued untill Jesus returns (1 Cor.11:26) as 1) a way of
remembering, 2) a way of proclaiming, and 3) a way of strengthening.
1) A W ay of Rem em bering: When Jesus first instituted communion, He said, “This do in
remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor.11:24-25). So, what does it mean to take communion
in remembrance of Christ?
First, through the elements used, we remember Jesus’ once for all sacrificial work on the cross
(Heb.10:12). The breaking of bread is a picture of Jesus’ bodily sacrifice, and the cup is a picture
of His shedding of blood without which there can be no forgiveness of sins (Heb.9:22). This is
not the same type of remembrance like we remember that George Washington was America’s
first President. This is an active awareness that the victory over sin and death has been
accomplished and because of Christ’s work on the cross we have peace with God.
Second, by partaking of these elements at the same time together (1 Cor.11:21), we are
remembering as a church that we are Christ’s body and a part of a new family. The Jewish
Passover was always celebrated with one’s family. Likewise, we celebrate it together as part of
the new family God created through the new birth (see John 3:3). So, we eat and drink together
to remember that the cross, which brings true peace between God and us, should also bring
peace between one another. We remember that we should be one, even as He is one (John
17:21). Therefore, we not only renew our relationship with Christ, but also the relationships we
have with one another in the church.
Third, as the church continues to practice regular communion untill Christ returns, we remember
Jesus’ promise to come again to renew the whole earth and wipe away every tear from our
eyes. We remember that His coming is a future reality and are encouraged to keep running the
race by faith untill we see Him face to face. The world drinks “the cup of forgetfulness” trying to
erase the past. Christians drink “the cup of remembrance” knowing that our past has been
forgiven and our future is secure.
2) A W ay of Proclaim ing: The Lord’s Supper is also a proclamation. Paul wrote, “For as often
as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1
Cor.11:26). Therefore, communion is a visible proclamation of the gospel. We proclaim that
Christ’s death on the cross was a historical fact. We proclaim that because of our sin, Christ’s
death on the cross was necessary. We proclaim that through Christ’s death on the cross the
work of salvation is finished. And we proclaim our dependence upon Christ’s death on the cross
as the only means for true forgiveness and reconciliation with God and one another.
“The Lord’s Supper,” Copyright © 2012, Truth Point Church, Rev. Jeremy McKeen
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3) A W ay of Strengthening: Some people understand the Lord’s Supper to be a great means
of strengthening our experience of God, but is that all? Jesus didn’t think so. He implies that it is
a means of knowing God more personally and growing in grace (see John 6:52-58). The
Westminster Confession writes that the Lord’s Supper is a means of our “spiritual nourishment
and growth in Him.” However, Christ is not physically present but spiritually present in a unique
way, and the elements themselves are not transformed, but as we receive Christ by faith, we are
transformed, and strengthened spiritually. Additionally, communion serves not just as a means of
grace to strengthen our relationship with Christ but also to strengthen our relationships with each
other.
The Frequency
So, why have we moved from receiving the Lord’s Supper only monthly to every week? Mainly for two
reasons – 1) Our commitment to follow the pattern of the early church and 2) According to the significance
of communion previously mentioned.
1) The Pattern of the Early Church: A close reading of the New Testament reveals that the
early church celebrated the “breaking of the bread” (the Lord’s Supper) every time they gathered
for corporate worship. We read that the early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’
teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). No one would
think we were devoting ourselves to God’s Word, prayer or fellowship if we only celebrated
these things 12 times a year, but that’s what we’ve been doing with communion. Therefore, let’s
join the early church and also devote ourselves to the weekly breaking of bread.
For we also see that the Lord’s Supper was one of the main activities that marked every Sunday
gathering. “On the first day of the week, when we were gathering together to break bread …"
(Acts 20:7). Also, Paul seems to suggest that the church in Corinth received communion every
time they assembled together (see 1 Cor.11:17-22). In fact, there is no Scripture that can show
a weekly assembly without a suggestion to the observance of the Lord’s Supper.
2) The Significance of Communion: Some may think that having the Lord's Supper every
week (instead of monthly or quarterly) will cause it to grow old and not as meaningful. On the
contrary, in light of it’s meaning, as we celebrate it more frequently, the tendency will be to
appreciate it more, not less. Additionally, the question should not first be “how does this make
me feel?” But rather, “How does God want to be worshipped?”
So, let us continue to devote ourselves to pointing people to the Truth of the gospel by also devoting
ourselves to the weekly breaking of bread. For Jesus invites us frequently to His table for intimate fellowship,
to receive Him, proclaim Him and be strengthened by Him.
“Let thy blood in mercy poured, let thy gracious body broken,
Be to me, O gracious Lord, of the boundless love the token.
Thou didst die that I might live; blessed Lord, thou cam’st to save me;
All that love of God could give, Jesus by His sorrows gave me.”
Greek Hymn, Tr. by John Brownlie, 1907
“The Lord’s Supper,” Copyright © 2012, Truth Point Church, Rev. Jeremy McKeen
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