1 (mass noun) the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially on a mental or spiritual level; (singular noun) shared participation in a mental or spiritual experience.
2 (often Communion or Holy Communion) the service of Christian worship at which bread and wine are consecrated and shared.
- The Oxford Dictionary
If you have your Bible with you, hold it and pray with me…
“This is my Bible:
I am what it says I am,
I have what it says I have,
I can do what it says I can do.
Today I will be taught the word of God:
I boldly confess;
My mind is alert,
My heart is receptive,
I will never be the same.
In Jesus name. Amen.”
- Joel Osteen
A little girl asked her mother, “Mommy, why do you cut the ends off the meat before you cook it?”
The girl’s mother told her that she thought it added to the flavour by allowing the meat to better absorb the spices, but perhaps she should ask her grandmother since she always did it that way.
So the little girl found her grandmother and asked, “Grandma, why do you and Mommy cut the ends of the meat off before you cook it?”
Her grandmother thought a moment and answered, “I think it allows the meat to stay tender because it soaks up the juices better, but why don’t you ask your Nana? After all, I learned from her, and she always did it that way.”
The little girl was getting a little frustrated, but climbed up in her great-grandmother’s lap and asked, “Nana, why do you cut the ends off the meat before you cook it?”
Nana answered, “I had to; my cooking pot wasn’t big enough.”
Often, we do things simply because ‘that’s the way everyone else does it’, or because ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’. Communion is a very important commandment given to all Christians by Christ at His last meal before being crucified. It was, if you like, His last dying commandment. For some people it has become over ritualised and the meaning has been lost.
So, how should Communion be conducted? Why? What does the Bible say about it?
To find it’s full meaning we need to go back in time. But, not as far as the historical accounts of the Communion, contained in Matthew 26:26-30, Mark 14:12-26 and Luke 22:7-38. The only details of the meaning here are those which Jesus spoke during His giving of the communion, and these are brief. However, fortunately for us, around 54AD the church in Corinth managed to make quite a mess of Communion with mention of division (1 Corinthians 11:18) and even drunkenness (1 Corinthians 11:21). This was probably the main factor that led to the writing of the Epistle now called 1 Corinthians.
1 Corinthians is the seventh book of the New Testament written predominately by Paul the Apostle, and is generally considered to be co-authored with Sosthenes the chief ruler of the synagogue at Corinth. Within 1 Corinthians we find that Communion is more than an act of remembrance, it is a journey through time: starting at the very beginning of time, well the beginning of our calendar anyway (the crucifixion), going through present time, and finishing in the distant future.
During this expedition in time, our mission is to complete four tasks: tasks that refocus us on what is important (God and each other), and free us of stumbling blocks that might prevent us from reaching our ultimate goal, Heaven.
So, Time Lords, step into your TARDIS (see the references if you don’t what that is), set the controls to 0BC/AD, and join me for a journey that only we, as Christians, are invited to take.
• “Do this in remembrance of Me.”
- 1 Corinthians 11:24b, 25b
Our journey starts in 0BC/AD, just outside the walls of Jerusalem at a place then known as ‘the place of the skull’: ‘Calvary’ to the Romans, or ‘Golgotha’ to the Greeks. We step out of our TARDIS and look upward. At the top of the hill there are three crosses. Jesus is nailed to the one in the middle (Luke 23:33).
With His last breath Jesus says “Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit.” (Luke 23:46). Then He dies. Just think about that for a moment: God, the God who created everything, came down here as a man, and actually died.
Just then you hear an almighty rip from over the wall. It is the temple veil tearing from the top down: the temple veil was said to be as thick as a man’s palm (the Mishnah) and when soiled, took 300 priests to immerse and cleanse it, 300! This was no tearing of an old curtain and would have been imposible for a man to do by hand. This tearing was done by God himself and it signified the end of the old covenant that began as a promise from God to Abram in 2085BC (Genesis 12:1-4), and the beginning of a new covenant: a covenant made by Jesus in the presence of His disciples at what we now refer to as ‘The Last Supper’ (Matthew 26:20-30; Mark 14:17-26; Luke 22:14-38), the very reason we have taken this journey.
Now, we remember how it all began, who made it possible, and the great sacrifice that was made so we could be saved. So we give thanks “that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8). This is the body that was broken for us (the bread) and it is His “blood” (the wine) “that establishes the covenant”. It was “shed for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). We do this because without Him, without His ultimate sacrifice, death awaits us all (Romans 6:23).
So now we step back into our TARDIS and return home, but this is more than just a journey back home, it is an inward journey, into our hearts and minds. This part has two phases: phase one is to evaluate and repair ourselves as individuals (repentance), and phase two is to evaluate and repair our relationships with our fellowship, the body of Christ (reconciliation).
• “So a man should examine himself; in this way he should eat the bread and drink from the cup.”
- 1 Corinthians 11:28
Our Daily Bread (1994)
State employment officials in Tucson, Arizona, posted an interesting sign over a full-length mirror. Directed to all job hunters: it read, "Would you hire this person?"
Self-evaluation was what the apostle Paul called for in 1 Corinthians 11. Believers in Christ need to judge themselves, he said, to avoid being judged by the Lord as unfit for His service. In the Corinthian church, the “appearance problem” was especially serious. Those Christians “looked” awful. They were actually getting drunk and quarrelling among themselves while going through the motions of celebrating the Lord's Supper. So Paul said, in effect, “Look at yourselves. What a mess! If you don't get your lives straightened out, the Lord will have to do it for you.” Then the apostle added the sobering fact that God had already begun to cleanse the church by sending some of them to an early grave. This is a hard truth, but one the church still needs to hear today.
This warning also carries a message of hope: when we judge ourselves, and repent of our sins, we avoid God’s judgement (1 Corinthians 11:31).
Self-evaluation includes both evaluation of our actions, and the evaluation of our inaction.
Firstly we look for any sin in our lives, any action contrary to the Word of God. Is there anything that we need to repent of? Keep in mind that God insists we “repent of iniquity” (Job 36:10b) and 1 Corinthians 11:27 warns us that to Commune “in an unworthy way” is a sin in itself. So here we confess and repent (change our minds and sin no more). Having been cleared of sin by the grace of God, we are free to move forward.
Secondly we examine our life in respect to service to Jesus. When we first spoke the Sinners Prayer we asked Jesus to be Lord of our lives. How can He be Lord if we don’t obey Him? Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Are we listening to the Holy Spirit, being diligent to walk the path God has set for us?
• “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”
- Ephesians 2:10
So, if there is any inaction (anything we are not doing that we should be doing) in our lives that God could hold against us, we repent of it and commit ourselves to serve Jesus faithfully in the future.
• “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”
- 1 Corinthians 10:17
In the second phase we remember that we are not an island unto ourselves (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Proverbs 27:17), and that the Bible commands us to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” (Ephesians 4:32) So here we check our hearts and make sure that we hold no grudges (Leviticus 19:18) against any of our fellowship, fully forgiving them in the name of Jesus, that we can be one body, complete, with no divisions.
• “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”
- 1 Corinthians 11:26
At His Table
Someone once asked Dwight L. Moody, “If you knew the Lord would return tonight, how would you spend the rest of the day?” Mr. Moody replied without hesitation, “I wouldn’t do anything different than I do every day.”
- Chlo Lillie
Now we hop back into our TARDIS and travel through time and space into the future, to when we are with Jesus, when we have finished our race. We are all sitting at His table in His kingdom (Matthew 26:29; Luke 22:30; 1 Corinthians 11:26), each of us wearing a crown (2 Timothy 4:7-8), breaking bread and drinking with Him. This is our ultimate goal and our final reward. So, do “not be troubled” (John 14:1) and “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). Now that we have pure hearts, and seeing that we are in good company, now is a good time to eat the bread and drink the wine.
• The Way to the Father
“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going.”
- John 14:1-4
We have completed our four part mission:
1. Remember (1 Corinthians 11:24b, 25b): remember that Jesus died on the cross for your sins,
2. Repent (1 Corinthians 11:28; 31): examination of oneself, repenting of any sin not previously dealt with,
3. Reconcile (1 Corinthians 10:17): examination of your relationships within the body, reconciling yourself with others, and finally,
4. Rejoice (1 Corinthians 11:26): remembering that Jesus is coming again, and that your place is with Him.
Now, our journey complete, we can return home. Having remembered our Lord Christ Jesus who died that we might live, having been forgiven of our sins, filled with purpose, freed of encumbrance with our fellowship, and having been reminded of the prize that awaits the faithful, we find ourselves cleansed and renewed.
It is through Communion and it’s four steps (1 Cor 11:23-32; 1 Cor 10:16-17) that we, with Christ, remind ourselves of the path we are on, and remove obstacles that would stand in the way of us reaching our final destination. We also discover that Jesus in eternal, He is our past, with us in the present, and He is our future goal.
So friends if you don’t know Jesus but you would like to commune with Him as all Christians do, then I invite you to take another journey with me. It is not as long and won’t need a TARDIS. Just bow your head and say this prayer…
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Saviour. In the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
Now find a local biblical based church and give them a call or send them an email. I know they would love to hear from you. God bless you.
THINGS TO DO
If you have not received a particular calling as yet and don’t feel led in any particular direction, consider what Jesus said in Matthew 25:31-46 the parable of ‘The Sheep and the Goats’:
“For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat;
I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink;
I was a stranger and you didn’t take Me in;
I was naked and you didn’t clothe Me,
sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of Me.”
Jesus is referring to four areas of ministry, the Poor, the Homeless, the Sick and the Imprisoned. These are areas that anyone can get involved in, without any particular qualification or calling.
If you are looking to serve Jesus here are some contacts you can try (sorry, Australia only).
Prison Fellowship Australia
3 Junia Avenue, Toongabbie NSW 2146
PO Box 525, Toongabbie NSW 2146
T 02 9896 1255
F 02 9896 1244
Level 2, 202 City Walk, Canberra 2601
PO Box 128, Civic Square, Canberra 2608
P 02 6251 4060
"Our Daily Bread", by Martin R. De Haan II, http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/Our.Daily.Bread/94-1qtr/db940109.txt, 9th January 1994
“At His Table”, Chlo Lillie, Standard Publishing Company
Dwight Lyman Moody (1837-1899), an American evangelist and publisher who founded the Moody Church, Northfield School and Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, the Moody Bible Institute and Moody Publishers.
Joel Scott Osteen (Born 1963)is an American preacher, televangelist, author, and the Pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. His ministry reaches over seven million broadcast media viewers weekly in over 100 nations around the world.
The TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) is a time machine and spacecraft in the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who and its associated spin-offs.