Christ gave the Lord’s Supper as an ordinance for believers to practice continually. The fact that Christ said, “Do this in remembrance of me,” means that celebrating the supper is not optional (1 Cor 11:24). The Lord’s Supper should be routinely practiced by believers as a perpetual memorial of Christ’s death (1 Cor 11:26). To not practice it or to neglect it is disobeying the Lord. The Lord’s Supper was commonly taken as part of a meal or love feast in the early church (Jude 12, 1 Cor 11:20-21)
Significance of the Lord’s Supper.
1-It is a memorial (1 Cor. 11:23-26)
The Lord instituted this remembrance of Him during the night in which He was betrayed to be crucified. (Matt 26. 26-29, Mark 14. 22-25 and Luke 22.17-20.) In anticipation of the Cross, Jesus used the Passover as a shadow (type) of His impending sacrifice. Later Apostle Paul said, “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” (1 Cor. 5:7.) Jesus took the bread and gave thanks and said “this is my body.” What he meant was that the bread was a symbol of His body that was going to be broken on the cross for the salvation of mankind. Inasmuch as the bread represented His body, it was an acceptable use of language to say, “this is my body.” His words “this do in remembrance of me” Luke 22:19 come to us as a last request of Him who loved us unto death. It was the desire of His heart that His people remember Him and His vicarious death on the cross. This fact is further evidenced by the fact that the Lord gave a special revelation to Apostle Paul concerning the Lord’s Supper. (1 Cor.11.23-26.) We break the bread in remembrance of His body that was broken for our sake and we partake of the cup in remembrance of His shed blood for the remission of our sins. It is to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ as our substitute that we observe the Lord’s supper. We remember Him because He is the most precious person for us. We remember His death because it is the most precious death for us.
2-It is a celebration (Heb. 9:15)
It is a celebration of the new covenant that the Lord had promised to His people. Believers in the church age, both Jews and Gentiles enjoy the blessings of the new covenant that Christ has ratified by His own shed blood on the cross. In Heb 9.15 we read that Christ is the mediator of the new covenant. He stood as a mediator between a holy God and sinful men and made provision for reconciliation of men to God by His death. The new covenant provides for our deliverance from the old covenant of Law to grace, sin to salvation, death to life, and Satan’s kingdom to God’s kingdom. The new covenant is based on God’s love, mercy, and grace. “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Heb. 8:12. 1 Cor.11.15 says, “…in like manner he took the cup saying this cup is the new covenant in my blood. This do as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
3- It is a proclamation (1 Cor.11.26)
First, it is a proclamation of the love of Christ. “To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father; to Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” (Rev. 1:5-6)
Second, we proclaim our faith in the efficacy of the Lord’s death. We proclaim that His death was necessary because of our sins, and it was necessary for our redemption. We proclaim that salvation is available only through the vicarious death of Jesus Christ. “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God (1 Pet. 1:18-21)
Third, we proclaim our faith in the Lord’s return; it is to be done till he comes. (1 Cor. 11:26) Every time we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we are encouraged by the anticipation of His coming again to receive us in to His presence. When the Lord comes again there will no longer be any need to remember Him through the emblems as we will be with Him forever. As we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we look backward to the cross and forward to His coming.
4- It is a communion (1 Cor. 10.16,17.)
It is a communion (sharing) with the Lord and His people. “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? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. (1 Cor. 10:16-17.) As a congregation, when we remember the Lord through the emblems, we celebrate our common salvation and eternal life. It is the ultimate fellowship of believers while on this earth. It is also a “cup of blessing that we bless,” because, each time we participate in the cup, our hearts overflow with thanksgiving to our savior who shed His precious blood on the cross for our redemption. We enjoy our fellowship or communion with the Lord and His people as we share the cup. Christ’s body represented in the bread symbolizes our union with Christ and the unity of believers. All believers, though many, are one body in Christ represented by the one loaf of bread. All benefit equally by the giving of the body of Christ on the cross. “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh.” (Heb. 10:20.)
5-It is an act of worship 1 Pet. 2:4-10
The Lord's Supper expresses our love for Christ by reminding ourselves of His sacrifice. We must remember His death because it was for each one of us that He died. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3.) This reminder of Christ, time after time in the life of the believer will be worship, if our hearts experience the preciousness of the one who is being remembered. “Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious.” (1 Pet. 2:7.) Second, the Lord's Supper expresses the worth of Christ by proclaiming His death. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.” (1Pet. 3:18.) “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;” Heb. 7:26. Finally, the Lord's Supper symbolizes the preciousness of Christ for our spiritual sustenance. This is a supper (meal) not for physical nourishment but for spiritual. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in Him.” (Joh. 6:56.) Then Jesus goes on to explain, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (Joh. 6:63.) Jesus also said. “I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (Joh. 15:5)
Our preparation for the observance of the Lord’s Supper.
First, we need to appreciate that it is the commandment of the Lord that we do this in remembrance of Him. The writer to the Hebrews says in ch 10.25 that we are not to forsake our assembling together. He brings to our attention the truth that Jesus Christ has opened for us a new way through His death. Now we can enter in to the holiest, that is the presence of God to bring our praises and thanksgivings unto Him. Because of the tremendous cost involved in our salvation we should never neglect our assembling together to remember the Lord. In Acts ch.2 we read that the early Christians were steadfast in the observance of the breaking of bread. In Acts Ch. 20: 7 we read that Christians came together on the first day of the week for the breaking of bread.1 Cor 16:2 indicates that it was the practice of the believers to gather on the first day of the week. For a believer there should be nothing more important than to remember the Lord on Sunday or the day set apart for that purpose in other parts of the world.
Second, The Lord’s Supper is to be done with reverence; in a worthy manner. (1 Cor. 11.27, 29.) We can think of several things in this regard. First, there should be no unconfessed sin in our lives. We must come to remember Him with the assurance that He is in our midst as we gather. If we have the sense of His presence, our conduct in every respect; in appearance, attitude, preparation, and participation will be to honor and glorify Him.
In Heb ch 10.22- we read several exhortations concerning our coming into the presence of the Lord.
Let us draw near with a true heart. We come into His presence in all sincerity to exalt Him, glorify Him and worship Him as we remember the price He paid for our salvation.
We draw near in full assurance of faith. We are to come with the full assurance that we are the children of God because we are born into God’s family by receiving Jesus Christ as our savior. Only those who have that assurance have the right to participate in the Lord’s Supper.
Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience. When we accept Jesus Christ as our savior, we appropriate the value of His blood. Figuratively speaking, we sprinkle our hearts with His blood just as the Israelites sprinkled their doors with the blood of the Passover lamb. When we remember the Lord, we are to truly appreciate the fact that we are redeemed not by corruptible things such as silver and gold but by the blood of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God that was slain before the foundation of the world.
Our bodies washed with pure water. Our bodies represent our lives. The pure water here means the word of God as we read in Eph 5.25,26. We should allow the Holy Spirit to use the word of God in cleansing our lives from daily defilement (Jon 7.37-39). We ought to be experiencing progressive sanctification in our lives.
Requirements for participation.
It was for believers that Christ set up the Lord’s Supper. (1 Cor. 11:23-26.) Since the Lord’s Supper includes participation in the New Covenant, we must have experienced it. We must be born again. Luke 22:20 says, “And in the same way he took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Acts. 2:41-42 says “Then those who gladly received His word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” To be unbaptized represents disobedience toward God’s clearly revealed will. It might be wise for a believer who is unwilling to be baptized not to participate in the Supper.
First Corinthians 11:28-31 says “A person should examine himself first, and in this way let him eat the bread and drink of the cup. For the one who eats and drinks without careful regard for the body eats and drinks judgment against himself. That is why many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few are dead. But if we examined ourselves, we would not be judged.” To live in unrepentant sin and to take the supper, which symbolizes Christ’s death for our sins, is to dishonor Christ and bring judgment on ourselves.
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