(Today's post by Adam a Cooper)
As I looked at Matthew 26:17-29 and saw that it was the Scripture describing the meal Jesus shared with His disciples in the upper room the night before He was betrayed and taken prisoner I thought to myself, “what can I write that has not already been written?” No matter what you call it, Lord’s Supper, Last Supper, Communion, Mass, etc. it is still an important aspect of our Christian faith.
We don’t have the space here to go into topics like transubstantiation, consubstantiation, or Spiritual presence so I will only address the belief that most of us probably share and that is the belief in doing this in remembrance of Christ and the sacrifice He made for us on the cross.
The accounts of the Lord’s Supper in Matthew and Mark are virtually identical; however, Luke adds a bit more to the account providing us with Jesus’ instruction to, “do this in remembrance of me (Luke 22:19b).” John’s account of the Lord’s Supper goes into a great deal of detail but none concerning the instructions of performing this sacrament.
So what is this thing we do that we call Communion? Why do we take an extremely small piece of “bread” and a small sip of grape juice and place such an enormous amount of meaning in it? I overheard someone recently saying that they wished the person discussing Communion from the stage would stop calling it a “small piece of bread” and a “small cup of juice” because of the enormity of the meaning behind it. In some aspects I agree with that sentiment but in others I don’t. Yes, the enormity behind what Christ did for us should overshadow the act of Communion every time it is practiced and nothing we say or do during that practice should every belittle or take away from the remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice; however, the act of remembrance and the symbols used are indeed “small” when compared with Jesus’ sacrifice.
The act of Communion has also been made so terribly complicated as well. How often should we do it? Who should be allowed to partake? Is salvation necessary to partake? Much like the ancient Jews who took ten simple commandments and turned them into thousands of Levitical laws, Christendom has taken a simple, yet meaningful, act of remembrance and convoluted it.
We take the bread to remind us of Christ’s body (“take and eat, this is my body (NIV Matt. 26:26)”) which was broken and tortured for us. We take the juice to remind us of Christ’s blood (“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (NIV Matt. 26:28)”). We remember Christ’s substitutionary atonement for OUR sins through this simple act of Communion.
If you wish to read some interesting commentary on the Lord’s Supper I would suggest looking at the PDF this link connects to (http://www.arielm.org/dcs/pdf/mbs108m.pdf). This brief discusses some of the things I have only mentioned above in a bit more detail.