Communion Sunday

As I write this blog post, we are currently in the season of Lent, which is a six-week period that falls between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday every year. Tomorrow happens to be the second Sunday during Lent which also falls on Communion Sunday. At the church I attend, on the first Sunday of every month we celebrate what is known as Communion at the end of the morning worship service. This was first done by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper on the first night of Passover with his twelve disciples right before his crucifixion and resurrection. The following account of the Last Supper is taken from Matthew 26:17-30 (NIV):

The Last Supper

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”

Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”

Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 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 from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with Communion, an article titled What is Communion and Why Do We Do It?” by Newspring Church provides a concise explanation. The article opens with the following information:

Have you ever wondered why Christians eat a small piece of bread and drink a sip of wine (or grape juice) in some church services?

You’re not alone.

For thousands of years, the Church has continued a practice called communion, or depending on different church traditions, the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist.

Communion uses bread as a symbol for Jesus’ body and wine as a symbol for His blood. Yes, it sounds strange. But why do Christians talk about eating Jesus’ body and drinking His blood? Are we cannibals?

Where Did Communion Come From?

Jesus started the tradition of communion. He instructed His followers to use bread and wine to remember the sacrifice He was going to make when He died for our sins on the cross (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

Jesus called Himself “the bread of life,” which means that we’re nourished by Him, we survive because of Him, and He satisfies us when everything else leaves us empty (John 6:48-51). There’s a connection between our nearness to Jesus, believing in Him, and being fulfilled by Him (John 6:35).

The early Church celebrated Jesus by taking communion, sometimes every day (Acts 2:42-46). They saw that every time they gathered around a table to eat and drink, it was a chance to recognize Jesus and thank God for all He’s done. (Quote source and complete article are available at this link.)

This article also explains why Christians take part in communion, and it also provides reasons not to take part in communion. It is not something that should be taken lightly, but “to intentionally set aside time to remember what Jesus has done and why He did it (1 Corinthians 11:27-31).” (Quote source here.)

In an article published on March 24, 2021, titled, Holy Communion–Its Purpose, Origins, and Power,” by Avital Snow, a second generation Jewish Believer and contributor on FirmIsrael.org, she writes:

There are two physical elements of communion, the bread (often unleavened matzoh) and the wine (sometimes grape juice). 

The bread used for communion signifies the body of Jesus, which was broken for us. He took on all sin, iniquity, rebellion, disease, grief and shame.

The wine (or grape juice) represents His blood, which was shed to establish a new covenant. It brought the forgiveness of sins and sets us apart in holiness. 

These two pieces became the elements of communion because they are the same elements that Jesus picked up from the Passover table. And on the first night of Passover is when He inaugurated the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper for us as believers. (Quote source and complete article are available at this link).

In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes seven “I Am” statements, and “each of these ‘I am’ proclamations furthers our understanding of Jesus’ ministry in the world. They also link Jesus to the Old Testament revelation of God.” (Quote source here.) In the first of these seven “I Am” statements, it relates to Communion as Jesus declares:

“I am the bread of life (John 6:35414851). In this chapter, Jesus establishes a pattern that continues through John’s gospel—Jesus makes a statement about who He is, and He backs it up with something He does. In this case, Jesus states that He is the bread of life just after He had fed the 5,000 in the wilderness. At the same time, He contrasts what He can do with what Moses had done for their ancestors: “Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die” (verses 49–50). (Quote source here.)

Here are the verses from John 6:25-59 in which Jesus describes himself as the Bread of Life:

Jesus the Bread of Life

When they [his disciples] found him [Jesus] on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

In the remaining verses of John 6 (verses 60-70), it is at this point after Jesus stated the above that many rejected Jesus:

Many Disciples Desert Jesus

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” [It was Judas Iscariot, one of his twelves disciples who had been with him for three years, who betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.]

The followers and disciples of Jesus today are not any different from those who followed Jesus back when he was walking on earth. One of the saddest verses in those last ten verses above is the verse that states, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”

I’ll end this post with the words of Paul found in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NIV) which are often spoken by the minister who is blessing the elements at the time of Communion: For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night 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, 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.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup…

You proclaim . . .

The Lord’s death . . .

Until he comes . . . .

 

YouTube Video: “Remembrance (Communion Song)” by Matt Redman:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

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