The act of taking communion is a deeply meaningful and significant experience for believers in Jesus Christ. As followers of Christ, we are called to participate in this sacred act as a way of remembering the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross. In this blog post, we will explore what the Bible teaches about communion, the significance of this practice for believers, and how it connects us to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Communion, also known as the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist, is a practice that dates back to the early days of Christianity. It is rooted in the Last Supper, which Jesus shared with His disciples on the night before He was crucified. Through this act, Jesus established a way for His followers to remember and proclaim His sacrifice until He returns. Communion is not only a memorial of Jesus’ sacrificial death but also a means of grace, by which believers are spiritually nourished and strengthened in their faith.
In the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible, we find a rich and detailed account of the origins of communion, as well as guidance on how it should be practiced within the Christian community. In this blog post, we will explore these biblical teachings and seek to understand the significance and implications of communion for believers today.
The Institution of Communion
Communion finds its roots in the Last Supper, which took place in the Upper Room during the Passover celebration (Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-23). The Passover was a Jewish festival that commemorated God’s deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Jesus used this occasion to establish a new covenant between God and His people, symbolized by the bread and wine.
As recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, “Take, eat; this is My body” (Matthew 26:26, NKJV). Then He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:27-28, NKJV). In doing so, Jesus established the practice of communion as a way for His followers to remember His sacrifice and to participate in the new covenant.
The Meaning of the Bread and Wine
The elements of communion—bread and wine—hold deep symbolic meaning. The bread represents the body of Christ, broken for us, while the wine represents His blood, shed for the forgiveness of our sins. These symbols remind us of the incredible love and sacrifice of Jesus, who willingly gave His life to save us from the consequences of our sin.
In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, the apostle Paul provides further insight into the significance of the bread and wine: “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on 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; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner, He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (NKJV).
Through the act of communion, we remember and proclaim the saving work of Jesus on the cross. It is a powerful and tangible way for believers to identify with Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. By partaking in the bread and wine, we acknowledge our dependence on Jesus for our spiritual nourishment and growth, and we express our unity as members of the body of Christ.
The Practice of Communion in the Early Church
The early Christians understood the importance of communion as an essential part of their worship and fellowship. Acts 2:42 records that they “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (NKJV). This “breaking of bread” refers to the practice of communion, which was a regular and integral aspect of the gatherings of the early church.
Paul’s letters to the Corinthians also provide valuable insights into how communion was practiced and understood in the early Christian community. In 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, Paul emphasizes the unity that communion fosters among believers: “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” (NKJV).
However, Paul also addressed some issues that had arisen in the Corinthian church regarding the proper observance of communion. He warned against partaking of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner, which would dishonor the body and blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). To avoid this, Paul instructed believers to examine themselves before participating in communion, ensuring that their hearts were right before God (1 Corinthians 11:28).
The Significance of Communion for Believers Today
The practice of communion continues to hold great significance for believers in the present day. It serves as a powerful reminder of the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf and the new covenant that He established through His death and resurrection. Communion is a time for personal reflection, repentance, and renewal, as we examine our hearts and lives in light of the gospel.
In addition, communion is an important means of grace for the believer. As we partake of the bread and wine, we are spiritually nourished and strengthened in our faith. This sacred act also serves to deepen our connection to Christ and to one another as members of His body, the church.
The Frequency and Manner of Observing Communion
While the Bible does not prescribe a specific frequency for observing communion, it is clear that the early church practiced it regularly. Some Christian traditions celebrate communion weekly, while others may do so monthly or on special occasions. The key is to approach this sacred act with reverence and intentionality, ensuring that we honor the Lord’s command to “do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19, NKJV).
The manner in which communion is observed may also vary among Christian traditions. Some churches use unleavened bread and wine, while others use leavened bread and grape juice. It is essential, however, to remember that the primary focus should be on the spiritual significance of the elements and the act itself, rather than on the specific materials used.
The Role of Communion in Christian Unity
Communion serves not only as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice but also as a means of promoting unity among believers. As we partake of the bread and wine, we are reminded that we are all part of the same body, bound together by our faith in Jesus Christ. This shared experience can help to foster a sense of solidarity and mutual support within the Christian community.
In Ephesians 4:4-6, Paul writes, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (NKJV). Communion serves as a vivid illustration of this unity, reminding us that we are all part of the same spiritual family, united by our faith in Jesus Christ.
In a world that is often marked by division and strife, the practice of communion can serve as a powerful symbol of the unity and love that are meant to characterize the body of Christ. As we partake of the elements together, we are reminded of our shared identity as followers of Jesus and our common mission to love and serve one another.
In conclusion, communion is a vital and meaningful practice for Christians, rooted in the biblical account of the Last Supper and the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Through the symbols of bread and wine, we remember and proclaim the sacrificial death of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, and we are drawn into a deeper relationship with Him and with one another. As we participate in communion, let us do so with humility, gratitude, and reverence, recognizing the incredible love and grace that have been extended to us through the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
May our observance of communion serve as a constant reminder of the hope and promise that we have in Christ, and may it inspire us to live lives that reflect His love, grace, and transformative power. As we partake of the Lord’s Supper, let us do so with anticipation, knowing that one day we will share in the great banquet that awaits us in the presence of our Savior, when He returns to claim His church and establish His eternal kingdom.
Furthermore, let us remember the role that communion plays in fostering unity within the body of Christ. As we come together to share in this sacred act, may we be reminded of our common bond and our shared commitment to love and serve one another. In a world that is often marked by division and strife, let the practice of communion stand as a testament to the power of God’s love to unite His people and to bring healing and reconciliation.
May the celebration of communion continue to be a source of grace, nourishment, and unity for believers, as we look forward to the day when we will partake of the heavenly feast in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Until that glorious day, let us continue to “proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26, NKJV) through our observance of communion, living lives that honor and glorify Him in all that we do.