We all develop ways to remember important occasions in life – like anniversaries, birthdays, and national holidays. Likewise, God established Communion as a way to remember and celebrate the great saving work Jesus did for us on the cross.
Communion Helps Us Look Backward
Jesus instituted Communion (or the Lord’s Supper) during his last meal with his disciples. He gathered with them to celebrate the Jewish holiday Passover. Passover looked back to when God delivered Israel from a plague of death and from Egyptian slavery. Jesus used that setting to introduce a new memorial meal.
Luke 22:19-20 He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.
Jesus gave his body and poured out his blood for us the very next day on the cross. So when we take Communion, we remember how Jesus died there to deliver his people from spiritual death and slavery to sin.
Communion Helps Us Look Forward
That night, Jesus anticipated his impending betrayal and death. But he also looked farther forward, to a glorious future beyond the cross.
Luke 22:15-16 Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”
Jesus was implying that he would eat with his followers again, when God’s kingdom was fully established. So when we take the Communion elements, it is a joyous foretaste of our future with Jesus, when our fellowship with him will be complete.
Communion Helps Us Look Around
The Lord’s Supper is designed to foster unity with other Christians. Yet in Corinth, the apostle Paul was disgusted that Communion was a time of division rather than unity.
1 Corinthians 11:29 If you eat the bread and drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking judgment upon yourself.
As we gather to remember Jesus, we also remember that as “the body of Christ” we are one in him. Our unity transcends differences of race, social class, or politics. So if you harbor a bad attitude toward other Christians, or have relationships that need to be mended, be sure to take care of those things before you take Communion.
Communion Helps Us Look Inward
We all need to pause at times for self-examination.
1 Corinthians 11:27-28 So anyone who eats this bread and drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup.
If you’re holding on to any willful or unconfessed sin, that’s inconsistent with the salvation Communion reflects. So before you take the elements, ask God to bring to mind anything in your life that is not honoring to Christ. As he does, simply confess it and receive the forgiveness and cleansing Jesus provides.
Above All Else, Communion Helps Us Celebrate Jesus and the Cross
The Lord’s Supper is a sober moment as we reflect on the price Jesus paid for our sins. It’s also a joyful time because of what his sacrifice means for us. Because of what Communion stands for, people should only take the elements if they have personally trusted in Jesus for salvation. Church attenders should abstain if they haven’t yet entrusted their lives to Jesus. Parents should think carefully about when it is appropriate to let their children participate.
The Lord’s Supper deserves a central place in our worship as a powerful reminder of God’s grace. When you take the elements, be mindful of what Jesus did for you in the past and what he will do in the future.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- When you were growing up, what family events did your family make a point to remember in their traditions? Explain.
- When you take Communion, does your attitude tend to be more joyful or more sober? Why?
- Read Luke 22:19-20. How does this help to explain what happens when you take the elements of Communion?
- Read 1 Corinthians 11:26. How does Communion look toward the future?
- Read 1 Corinthians 11:27-28. Why should we examine ourselves before taking Communion?
- Read 1 Corinthians 11:29. What does it mean to “honor the body of Christ”? Why do you think such a stern warning is assigned to this issue?
- Are there times when a Christian should abstain from taking Communion? Explain.
- What advice would you give to parents about introducing Communion to their children?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.