The Sacrament of Communion
Exodus 12:26-27 ESV – And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
Luke 22:15-20 ESV – And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it[a] until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
I Corinthians 5:7 ESV – …For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrifice
•Most Christians know that there is somewhat of a correlation between the Passover of the Old Testament and Communion in the New Testament.
Passover – Instituted when God was about to deliver Israel out of Egyptian bondage.
Communion – Instituted when God was about to deliver us from the bondage of sin.
Passover – A lamb without blemish was slain and sacrificed.
Communion – Jesus was identified as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Passover – They were spared from death when they applied the blood to the door frames.
Communion – We are saved from the penalty of sin when we apply the blood by faith.
The word Communion means: A having in common; A partnership; A fellowship recognized and enjoyed; The share which one has in anything (Koinonia)
Communion is related to the words common and communication. The very word Communion implies being with someone. Communion is a celebration that binds people together. It is meant to be done together. It has to be done in community. all kinds of people together.
The Church, the community of Faith is God saying: “I’m throwing a dinner, all you mismatched, messed up people are invited. Here, have some wine, eat some bread! Taste and see that the Lord is good! Enjoy!”
Karl Barth said, “Holy Communion is offered to all, as surely as the living Jesus Christ is for all, as surely as all of us are not divided in him, but belong together as brothers and sisters, all of us poor sinners, all of us rich through his mercy. Amen.”
Communion is God transforming ordinary things into sacred, holy things – scraps of food into a feast and empty vessel into gallons of fine wine – communion says you are welcomed here God always is and is ever enough!
Today this meal is known by many names – mass, holy communion, the Eucharist (Thanksgiving), the Lord’s Supper, The Table of the Lord, and is practiced in a myriad of ways. For some it marks the climax of every weekly gathering, for others it is observed just a few times a year.
The bread may come as a hot loaf straight out of the oven, an oyster cracker nestled in the palm, or a thin wafer consecrated by a priest and placed directly on the tongue. The wine may be served from an ornamental chalice, a bottle passed around the table, or in rings of little plastic cups – the wine may even be grape juice.
The elements and the meal are identified in different ways – the body of Christ, broken; the blood of Christ, shed; the Bread of heaven, the cup of salvation, the mystery of faith, the supper of the Lamb, or the cup of blessing.
JRR Tolkien said, “Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament … There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth.”
What is the Lord’s Supper?
1. It’s a Reminder
I Corinthians 11:23-24 ESV – For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[a] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
“Remember” How God became one of us (John 1:1)? Remember how God ate with us and drank with us? Remember how God suffered for us, and died for us, and gave his life for the world? Remember, you are loved? Remember you are welcomed? Remember? Remember?
John 6:35 ESV – Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
Bread is considered a staple food—i.e., a basic dietary item. A person can survive a long time on only bread and water. Bread is such a basic food item that it becomes synonymous for food in general.
First, by equating Himself with bread, Jesus is saying he is essential for life. Second, the life Jesus is referring to is not physical life, but eternal life. Third, and very important, Jesus is making another claim to deity. This statement is the first of the “I AM” statements in John’s Gospel. The phrase “I AM” is the covenant name of God (Yahweh, or YHWH), revealed to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14).
•The two disciples walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)
-Jesus was in another form – was not recognized by them. Disappointed.
-At Emmaus, they had bread. Jesus blessed, and broke it and the bread hit the table and Jesus was gone. But the bread remained. (Don’t miss that) They knew it was Jesus.
Interesting to note also that the word “Bethlehem” in Hebrew means “house of bread”. Jesus used the word “bread” to refer to that when He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone.” Remember, Christ satisfies ALL hunger
Remember, Jesus is present with us as Bread on this table – We think God is a diety in a temple. It turns out that he is bread and wine at a table.
2. It’s a Symbol
I Corinthians 11:25 ESV – In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
French philosopher Voltaire and American President John Adams are famous for their criticisms of Christianity because they thought it was a “bloody religion,” with all its wars, its frequent mention of blood, and the bloody death of its founder, Jesus Christ.
a. We gain bold access to God in worship and prayer
Hebrews 10:19 ESV – Therefore, brothers,[a] since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
“If the Cross is God’s masterpiece of His love, then the Eucharist is the centerpiece of our worship.”
•The Bible is clear that every person is alienated and separated from God because of our sin (Colossians 1:21).
•If you are a Christian today, you can have boldness and confidence as you approach God with your prayers and your worship, because you are no longer far away from God, “Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).
b. Forgiveness of sin
Ephesians 1:7 ESV – In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
•He said, “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). He was telling His disciples that just as the blood of the lamb delivered the Hebrews from the night of terrors in Egypt, so Christ’s own blood would deliver the people who were covered by it from the judgment of God on the last day.
•The hymn, “Nothing But the Blood”
3. It’s a Statement of Faith
I Corinthians 11:26 ESV – For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Christianity is a confession, not an explanation. Listen, we will attempt to explain what we legitimately can, but we will always confess more than we can explain.
The Apostles Creed – I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
Fact: I fully confess that Jesus will come again! When we take communion we are saying We believe that, even if we don’t know how to explain it.
•Mystery is good for theology. Mystery is good for the soul. Christianity is a sacred mystery.
“The Lord’s Supper is a link between the Lord’s first coming and His second coming.” Frederic Godet
What will I do?
I Corinthians 11:27-28 ESV – Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup
1. Examine Myself
Psalms 139:23-24 ESV – Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts![a]24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Some people read this and begin to get under all kinds of condemnation. “I’m so unworthy. I missed it this past week. I don’t deserve to take communion.”
examine – to observe carefully or critically, to inspect, to study, to analyze.
Having sinned does not disqualify a person from taking communion. If it did, none would qualify. This table is not for perfect people!
One commentator said: “If the table of Christ were only for perfect people none might ever approach it. The way is never closed to the repentant sinner. To the man who loves God and his fellow men the way is very open, and his sins, though they be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” (William Barclay)
I Corinthians 11:29-31 ESV – 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.[a] 31 But if we judged[b] ourselves truly, we would not be judged.
Examining yourself is certainly not the same as condemning yourself.
Examine yourself…in the light of God’s love and mercy, in the light of His shed blood, in the light of His word
If you see an area where you need to make an adjustment, make it. But know that God is for you, not against you. He wants to help you overcome, not condemn you, for having fallen short!
James 1:23-25 NIV – Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
•Mirror – reflects, reveals
2. Confess my Sins
I John 1:9 ESV – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
One of the things we see at communion is ourselves – betrayal, sin, doubt, unbelief were all there at the table that night during the Lord’s supper. We all have the capacity to betray, abandon, and sin against Christ.
Communion reminds us to confront and confess our sins, and repent! (Turn away from sin and to Christ with a change of heart & mind)
Sin is living independently of God’s standard, missing the mark, taking a wrong turn – knowing what is right, but choosing what is wrong. It’s the one thing we all have in common but no one wants to talk about.
Consequences of Sin – Spiritual death, eternal separation from God
We take communion not because we are perfect, but because we are not. We have not arrived but we are traveling. We are not right. We are wrong. We are not divine, We are human. We are not full, but we are hungry.
Romans 6:23 NIV – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus is a greater savior than we are a sinner!
There is hope! The Gospel has the hope. Jesus died on the cross to personally pay the penalty for our sins.
Romans 5:8 NIV – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us
I John 2:1-2 NIV – My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
God won’t just take your sin away from you; He’ll put it so far away from you that you can’t find it anymore. That’s how forgiven you’ll be!
Confession of Sin
Most Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you, in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; We are truly sorry and we humbly depend. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. In Jesus Name. Amen
Psalms 103:8-12 ESV – The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;12 as far as the east is from the west,so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
3. Recommit My Life to God
Romans 12:1 NIV – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship
Communion invites us to the Table of God. There we make things right.
Romans 10:9-10 NIV – “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending!
Romans 8:1-2 NIV – 1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.
Any hope for you? YES!
Acts 2:36-39 ESV – Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
Rusty and Band – sing Doxology as the congregation stands and walks to the front to get communion
Jesus said: I am the bread of life.
All who come to me shall not hunger,
and all who believe in me shall not thirst.
With Christians around the world
and throughout the centuries,
we gather around these symbols
of bread and wine—simple elements
that speak of nourishment and transformation.
Let us pray.
Loving God, we thank you
that you are as close to us as breath,
that your love is constant and unfailing.
We thank you for all that sustains life,
and especially for Jesus Christ,
who teaches us how to live out
an ethic of justice and peace,
and for the promise of transformation
made manifest in his life, death and resurrection.
We ask you to bless this bread and this cup.
Through this meal, make us the body of Christ,
that we may join with you in promoting the well-being of all creation. Amen.
We remember on the night
when Jesus and the disciples
had their last meal together,
Jesus took the bread, gave thanks,
and gave it to the disciples,
saying “This is my body,
which is broken for you.
Take and eat it, and as often as you do, remember me.”
[Distribution of the bread.]
In the symbol of the broken bread, we participate in the life of Christ
and dedicate ourselves
to being his disciples.
In the same way he took the cup,
and after giving thanks
he gave it to the disciples, saying:
“Drink this, all of you.
This cup is the new covenant,
poured out for you and for many
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.
[Distribution of the wine.]“
In the symbol of the cup, we participate in the new life Christ brings.
Let us pray. We give thanks, loving God,
that you have refreshed us at your table.
Strengthen our faith;
increase our love for one another.
As we have been fed by the seed that became grain, and then became bread, may we go out into the world to plant seeds of justice, transformation, and hope. Amen.
Bless One Another – A beautiful expression of worship, unity, forgiveness, and strength
“The peace of Christ be with you – and also with you”