Summary: A doctrinal examination of the Lord's Supper.
A. It is said Jesus and some of his followers must have been Southern since they used the word Supper instead of Dinner when referring to the Lord’s Supper.
B. There has been a great deal of misunderstanding about the Lord’s Supper or Communion throughout church history with several theories proposed.
1. Transubstantiation-the elements actually become the body and blood of Christ when received.
2. Consubstantiation-the presence of Christ is with and in the elements when they’re received but don’t actually become his body and blood.
3. Symbolic-no change takes place but the elements merely represent the body and blood of Christ.
4. Sacramental-grace is imparted by receiving the elements.
5. Some churches pass the elements out to the parishioners while others have them come to the altar and have the minister or priest give it to each one.
C. Jesus left the church with two ordinances to observe:
1. Baptism-Go into all the world with his love, make disciples and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Matt. 28:18-20)
3. Some have added Foot Washing but Jesus did this to set an example of servanthood not to establish an ordinance.
D. Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper while observing the Last Supper prior to his arrest. (Luke 22)
1. That it was instituted by Jesus makes it important.
2. It commemorates the Passover which remembers Israel’s escape from Egyptian slavery. The last plague was death of the firstborn son, and the only way to escape was to smear the blood of a lamb on their doorframes. When the death angel saw the blood, he passed over. This event foreshadowed Jesus’ work on the cross, so sharing the Passover meal with his disciples was an opportune time to establish the Lord’s Supper.
E. How often to observe it has also been questioned.
1. The early church probably observed it every time they got together which was every Sunday. (Acts 20:7)
2. There is no biblical mandate as to how often it should be observed.
3. Our church-and many others, choose to do it quarterly, but again there is no right or wrong time frame.
4. The fact that we observe it-and with the right motive and purpose, is what’s important.
I. The Symbols Of Communion
1. As Jesus broke the bread into pieces, he told the disciples it represented his body given for them.
2. His body was given on the cross but not before it was severely broken and mistreated.
3. But the breaking of his body was more significant than that of the two criminals crucified beside him or of anyone else who had been.
4. It was a completion of what all other broken bodies of animals had symbolized.
5. Animal sacrifices only covered sin temporarily but did not actually forgive it. The forgiveness was based on what would happen in the future-the Messiah’s death on Calvary.
6. Jesus’ body and work on the cross provided a substitute for us. He took our place.
1. We use juice. Some denominations actually use wine and Jesus and his disciples probably did too-perhaps a watered down version. They would also have used a common cup and the same loaf of bread. For sanitary purposes we individualize the elements.
2. The juice represents Jesus’ blood. The Bible says without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22)
3. Without forgiveness, we have no chance for connection with God or eternal life.
4. Couldn’t God have provided for humanity’s salvation in some other way that wasn’t so gruesome? I suppose, but this was his chosen method.
C. The elements don’t materialize into Christ’s actual body and blood but represent it. As we take them, we are remembering what he did for us at Calvary.
II. The Purpose Of Communion
A. It reflects on what Jesus did. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
B. It celebrates God doing for humanity what we couldn’t do-save ourselves. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
C. It recognizes Jesus’ sacrifice as complete payment for the forgiveness of sin and that none other will do. I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
D. It reminds us that Calvary and the resurrection are not the end. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (I Cor. 11:26) Observing the Supper leads us to look backward to Christ’s completed sacrifice and forward to his Second Coming.
E. Just as with baptism, it has no bearing on one’s salvation. Communion is not a sacrament but an ordinance. It does not impart grace but reminds us of it.