This post is part of a 6-part series leading up to Easter service on April 16th. Click the inline Easter banner below for more details.
Part 1 can be found here – > Triumphal Entry || Part 3 can be found here -> Judas and Peter: The Difference Between Shame and Grace
All four gospels describe the Last Supper happening after the Triumphal Entry, where Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey to fulfill prophecy. The last supper was a private event among his closest disciples. Jews at this moment in history were celebrating Passover, a celebration of God’s promise to liberate the Jewish people from slavery. Jesus renews this covenant with the institution of communion which represents our liberation from the slavery of sin.
Jesus in this moment gives two ultimate blessing and one damning curse.
He breaks bread and tells his disciples that, “This is my body, which is given to you, do this in remembrance of me.” (Lk 22:19). First, Jesus is talking metaphorically about the bread being his body. When you show someone a picture of your family and you say, “This is my family!”, you do not mean that is your physical family, it is just a picture. Even Jesus explains earlier when he claimed, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53)
Jesus’ disciples misunderstood him and so he goes on to clarify that he is speaking metaphorically and in verse 63 says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” This logical can also be taken to understand that the cup is not physically the new the covenant, but is figuratively the new covenant (it is still just a cup, like the picture of your family is just a picture).
The bread represents the body that was broken on the cross for our sins. When we gather together as the church we are to remember the body that broken for our sins. This act of remembrance is not to be taken lightly nor should we take the sin that was responsible for the crucifixion taken lightly either. As we take communion we should also be reflecting our own actions that have lead to Christ being crucified on the cross. In these moments we should be crucifying our sins with Christ. In these moments repentance should weigh heavy on our hearts.
His broken body for our sins is the first blessing
Then he took the cup of the fruit of the vine and said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” Luke 22:20 God’s first covenant with the Jewish people was based on the law. It required a blood sacrifice whenever the people sinned against God. But it wasn’t enough. They could never keep up with adherence to the law, because the law was to show us how broken we are and how much we need God.
The new covenant is based on Grace. The sacrifice was made before we were even born, before you committed a sin. Drink of the communion cup and remember that you are saved by grace through faith. Even our faith is a grace from God. The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Eph 2:8 We cannot even boast that we had the enlightenment to choose God, because he is the author of our faith. We can just give praise for grace.
His blood was shed for your grace and his glory
Communion also comes with a harsh warning that is rarely discussed. During the last supper Jesus pointed out that Judas will betray him. He says it would have been better for Judas to have not been born because he betrayed Christ. Paul gives a warning to Christians to not betray Christ when taking communion:
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. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
1 Corinthians 11:27-29
Paul gives the same warning that Jesus gave to Judas, that they are eating and drinking judgement on themselves and it would be better for them not to have been born. So every Christian should be asking themselves; Am I holy enough to take communion?
First, we cannot make ourselves holy, only God is holy and any holiness we receive is from him alone. That being said this is a harsh warning to those that take communion, so is there a time where you should not take communion? Yes, I believe there are 3 circumstances in which a christian should not take communion.
- If you have been removed from your church for discipline sake. If there is a reason the elders at your church have excommunicated you, you should not be participating in communion, even at another church. Your discipline is due to your unrepentant sin and that sin should be dealt with the seriousness of the cross.
- If you are unrepentant in your sin. If you are refusing to renounce Satan and your sin, then do not participate in the remembrance that Christ was crucified for that sin. Paul says, “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. (1 Cor. 5:11)” Do not take communion if you are not going to repent and turn away from your sin. Examine yourself carefully.
- If you have any unresolved conflicts. Matthew 5:23–24 says, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
These circumstances are based in our heart not fully, devotedly worshipping and remembering Christ’s sacrifice and grace. The warning in scripture is not meant to make sure that you do not take communion on a regular basis. They are meant for repenting christians to stay repenting. Your heart should be clear of any sin that has not been repented of before you take communion.
Sin kills joy along with your soul. Kill your sin, gain your joy, and worship Jesus through remembering him with communion.