Lord's Supper - What does it mean today?
The Lord's Supper, commonly referred to as "communion," is one of two special ordinances that the Lord Himself instituted while He was still on earth. This ordinance of communion commemorates and typifies the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The other, being baptism, carries with it a picture of Christ's resurrection.
Knowing that He was soon to die, the Lord expressed a deep desire to celebrate a final Passover with His beloved disciples. When the sacred meal was done, Christ broke bread and poured wine and served it to His disciples. Luke 22: 19-20 says, "And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.'"
This deliberate, ceremonious distribution of bread and wine was to become one of the greatest expressions of faith and adherence to the doctrines of Christianity. Though Christ had foretold of His suffering and death to His disciples, this call to remember was sure to have brought the truth of His imminent passion close to home, though they must have scarcely understood it. But what does the Lord's Supper mean today? Far from losing any of its significance and importance, of necessity, this ceremony must be an often and vital happening in the life of today's Christian church.
The death of Christ, His broken body and spilt blood, is the bedrock of the Christian faith. Without it, we are not saved and have received no redemption; we cannot fellowship with the Father and His Son. When Jesus died on the cross, His body was so broken that He was disfigured; He was utterly massacred and humiliated. This was the holy God's indictment against sin; this was the price that was paid for our redemption.
It is imperative that Christians periodically take time to ponder and worship Jesus' great sacrifice, lest we forget. Partaking of the Lord's Supper affords us this opportunity. The apostle Paul further elaborated on this in his letter to the Corinthians: "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26). When we partake of the Lord's Supper, it is a proclamation and embracing of what Christ has done for us.
As Christians, we are tempted today to make our own pursuits and desires the focus of our lives instead of having the Lord as the center of our affections. When Jesus was on earth, He chided those who sought Him only for the fish and the loaves, for what they could receive from Him and not for Himself: "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him" (John 6:27, 54-56).
Christians must always be mindful of the true meaning of their lives in Christ. We must be partakers of His sufferings and self-sacrifice, willing to take up our crosses and follow Him. We do not literally eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Lord when we take communion; however, it is a sober reminder of the love of Christ for mankind. Indeed, during this memorial, we may challenge and examine ourselves to see if we have maintained our commitment to the Lord. It is a testimony to all who see of our faith in the sacrificial work of Calvary, a picture of the offering extended to every person on earth: "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28).
Learn More about the Last Supper!
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