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SCRIPTURE REFERENCES » 1 Corinthians 11:27-30

Taking the Lord’s Supper Seriously

As I was preparing today to lead the people of Emmaus in the Lord’s Supper for the first time this Sunday, I was struck with the seriousness and power of this ancient tradition.

To begin with, it’s overwhelming to contemplate the fact that this ordinance was established by Jesus Christ Himself and was handed down through the apostles, the early church fathers, all the way through church history, and to us today (in fact the Lord’s Supper has as its roots the Passover feast established after the Exodus). When we participate in the Lord’s Supper we are not only considering our deep connection with one another as individuals within the local church, but also our connection with the saints around the world and those who have gone before us.  This is big! The Lord’s Supper, though it involves individual contemplation, forces us to consider our unity in Christ as the church of God both locally and universally.

As we take the wafer, which symbolizes the body of Christ that was broken for us, and the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ that was poured out for us, the symbolism reminds us that we are not islands unto ourselves. We are, as individuals, deeply connected to and dependent upon Christ; and because of our union with Christ, we are also deeply connected to one another.  As believers, we have Christ in common; He unites us as we each send our roots deep down in to Him.

This is why it is so important that we search our hearts before we partake of the Lord’s Supper. We do not want to be guilty of hypocrisy when it comes to our relationship with God or our relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ. We must examine our hearts, confess sin, and do all that is in our power to be at peace with all men (1 Corinthians 11:27-30, Romans 12:18).

We can easily forget that when Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper it was in the context of the Passover meal. Jesus was sitting around the table in an intimate setting with His disciples as they shared a meal together. When the early Church participated in the Lord’s Supper, they most likely did so in the context of sharing in a full meal together. Today, most churches take five minutes out of their worship service to remember Christ by taking a wafer and juice while the congregation sits, not with their eyes on one another, but looking strait forward. Now I’m not saying the way we do things today is all wrong, but I do think we should be aware of the fact that the Lord’s Supper was originally observed in a context that was much more conducive to the sharing of life to life relationships.

As we take communion this Sunday we will do so in the same way that we always have, wafer and juice in hand we will confess sin, remember our Lord’s death, and look forward to His second coming. This is good and proper; but please add to your contemplation a deep awareness of the unity that we share in Christ Jesus. Who knows, perhaps we will change the way that we approach the Lord’s table in the future, but for now, let’s make sure that we approach with hearts that are right before God and one another.

 

 



"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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