Summary: Where the power of communion comes from
August 19, 2001 The Power of Communion
Some of the most dangerous things in life are things that don’t look dangerous. Take for instance a cigarette lighter. When my brother was young, he was enamored by the orange glow that it would make when it was pushed in. So one day, while my parents weren’t looking, he pushed in a cigarette lighter and stuck his finger into that orange glow. Then all of the sudden he realized there was more to that light than just looks. There was fire. A Venus Fly Trap may look like a safe place for a fly to land. An outlet in a wall doesn’t look dangerous. But that doesn’t mean it’s not.
I find it very interesting when I read stories in the Bible where God used very normal and innocent things to portray his power. Consider for a moment the story of Elijah. He had just sent news to king Ahaziah that he was going to die from a fall he had. In response, Ahaziah sent a company of fifty men to go and capture Elijah. Here he was, a little old man sitting on top of the hill. You would think that fifty men would have no problem capturing him. But what happened? Elijah said, “if I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you.” Through this little old man, God put to death 100 men in the blink of an eye.
There are many examples of God doing this in the Scriptures. And the Lord Supper is one of them. God’s word claims that the Lord Supper has amazing power. It says that by eating the body and blood of the Lord our sins are washed away, and therefore we are assured of eternal life. Today we are going to look at where that power comes from.
Where Does the Lord’s Supper Get It’s Power?
I. The Command
As you may well know, there are many so-called Christians and Biblical scholars who scoff at us for this teaching. “How can you trust in a piece of bread for your salvation?”, they ask. “As if all of our salvation relied on what we eat and drink. That’s nothing but superstition and idolatry.” They think it is ridiculous that we treat the Lord’s Supper like a powerful loaded weapon ready to explode. To them, thoughts like that belong in the dark ages.
I wonder how such scholars would have survived in the Old Testament. I could imagine them sitting beyond the encampment of the Israelites and laughing at the way they treated the Ark of the Covenant. “Look at the way they carry that little box around. They really believe that a god dwells within there!” Or imagine them even living in the New Testament. Acts 19 says, God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. Doesn’t that seem superstitious as well? “Holy healing handkerchiefs? “Who ever heard of such nonsense!”
We can’t really blame them for such skepticism. We also approach life this way. Think of it. When you hear about miracle healings today aren’t you also skeptical? When you see people handling poisonous snakes you can’t help but think they are ignorant. So also, when we claim that eating the Lord’s Supper can forgive our sins and assure us of eternal life, people also think we are ignorant. So where do we draw the line between superstition, ignorance, and faith? That’s the question isn’t it? How do we know we are not being superstitious or ignrant by believing that the Lord’s Supper has such power?
Consider what Paul said about his fellow Jews. They were traveling all across the countryside, doing their best to make Jews of all people. But what did Paul say of them? I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. As energetic as they were, their zeal was not based on knowledge. They didn’t know the Scriptures. They were only acting that way because that’s the way they were taught to act. They were being ignorantly misled.
First of all, we know we’re not being ignorant because we have a direct command from God to “do this.” Jesus very clearly said to “do” what he was doing. And what was he doing? Paul explains. The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 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.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” He was taking bread and wine, blessing it, and distributing it for the disciples to eat and drink. This was not just an example, this was a command.