By Kurt Schneider
For over two millennia, the Church has “done” communion. But why do we do it? What does it even mean? These are good questions, important questions. And they need correct answers. For some people, communion is truly a part of worship for our Lord and Savior. For others, it is tradition or a routine. So, what is it?
First, let me tell you what it is not. It must not be done in a mindless manner; it must not become solely a tradition; and it must never become a ritual. The Bible is so very clear on these points in 1 Corinthians 11:27-31 where we are told to take communion in a “worthy manner”. What is a worthy manner? It’s not about simply getting “right” with God before taking communion, as is the common interpretation. No, a “worthy manner” is to know what communion means and to believe in all it stands for. Communion does not save you and, no, it does not make you a Christian. What it does is “remind” you of something very important.
Communion is a commandment to “remember”. We spend so much time trying to figure out how to do communion, when to do communion, and where to do communion; but we spend so little time thinking about why we do communion. It doesn’t matter if you use juice or wine, bread or crackers; it doesn’t matter if you do it at the beginning of service, in the middle, in the end; it doesn’t matter if you do it at home or in church or at a restaurant with friends.
No, what matters is why you do it. Indeed, the bread itself doesn’t matter and neither does the juice.
What does matter, beyond a shadow of any doubt, is the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
As Jesus Himself said when He inaugurated the first communion, commonly known as the Last Supper or the Lord’s Supper, “. . . do this in memory of Me.” (Luke 22:19)
We must have the right motive when we take communion. It’s not complicated: it is symbolic of the most important event in history. The bread represents the body of Christ, which He gave up on the cross as atonement for our sins. The juice represents His blood, which he poured out for our forgiveness.
If nothing else, please remember this each time you eat the bread and drink the juice: We have all sinned (Romans 3:23); the penalty for sin is death, which is eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23a); Jesus paid the penalty for us – God “gave His only Son” (John 3:16); and He paid in full the price for eternal life, and then gave that life, that unbelievable grace-filled life, to us as a gift. (Romans 6:23b)
We are told in Leviticus 7:14 that “life is in the blood.” Yes, Jesus poured out His life for us, poured out His blood for us, but the blood He poured out is life-giving blood. Jesus rose again to life and that life-giving blood of the lamb gives life to us. Now, as you take the bread, remember the cross and Jesus’ death. As you drink the juice, remember the blood, remember the resurrection and the life that it gives each of us who believe with all our heart that God did “raise Jesus from the dead.” (Romans 10:9)