Summary: In Communion, the people of God declare fellowship with one another because of fellowship with Christ, renew their anticipation of the return of the Saviour, and remember His sacrifice. This message focuses on remembering the Saviour.
“I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’”
Whenever I serve the Communion Meal, I make a point of noting for the benefit of those participating that this is a Meal of Anticipation, for we are to continue observing this meal “until [Christ] comes” [1 CORINTHIANS 11:26]. Though no particular period between observances is provided, it does indicate an ongoing observance in which participants anticipate the return of the Master to receive His own. Those who understand the significance of sharing the Meal look forward to Jesus’ return.
Those participating in the Meal draw encouragement from this knowledge.
Again, before distributing the elements, I note that it is a Meal of Fellowship, taken as declaration of our fellowship with one another because of our fellowship in Christ. “Communion” is a declaration of sharing our lives, and so the Meal is intended for those who share their lives in the congregation as members together. For this reason the Meal is referred to as “Communion” [see 1 CORINTHIANS 10:16 KJV contra NET BIBLE]. This is a church ordinance and not a Christian ordinance, in which participants confess their unity in the Faith, particularly in sharing their lives through their mutual ministries.
There is a third reference I make whenever I serve this Meal, and that is that this is a Meal of Remembrance. This powerful truth will serve as the focus for our study this morning. “Do this in remembrance of Me,” the Master commanded His disciples as they were gathered for the last Passover Meal He would share with them [see LUKE 22:18]. Since the time of His resurrection, wherever the Faith is maintained believers gather to observe the Communion Meal on an ongoing basis. Central to each observance is the knowledge of our Saviour’s sacrifice because of our sin. As we prepare to observe the Memorial Meal this day, I invite each participant to focus his or her attention on the significance of the sacrifice our Lord has provided and which we have received.
THE ORDER AND PURPOSE OF THE MEAL WERE ESTABLISHED BY THE LORD JESUS — “I received from the Lord…” Carefully consider this important truth. Though the Table is under the administration of the local congregation, the establishment of the Meal was by the Lord whom we worship. Paul makes it clear that he did not initiate the Meal, nor did he simply repeat what others had communicated to him. Rather, the Apostle was faithful to the instruction of the Lord, carefully stating that it was Jesus Himself who communicated to him the conduct and the purpose of the Meal. Consequently, the Meal did not arise from the fertile imagination of grieving Christians attempting to create a new order of worship. Jesus Himself gave the Meal to His disciples, and Paul asserts that He was instructed by Jesus concerning the order and the purpose of the Meal.
Perhaps you imagine that Paul relied upon either Mark’s account or Matthew’s account of the Lord’s Supper. If you imagine that, you would be wrong. When we read the account of the institution of that Meal in the Synoptic Gospels, we note that Matthew and Mark agree substantially in what was said. Listen to the two accounts as they are read in succession. Matthew’s account will be first. “As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom’” [MATTHEW 26:26-29].
Now listen to Mark’s account. “As they were eating, He took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “‘Take; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God’” [MARK 14:22-25].