What is Communion?

Communion is also called the Eucharist, Holy Communion, or Lord's Supper.

Communion is eating together with other believers, examining ourselves, and recommitting ourselves to Christ.

It has become a special sacrament, but it is eating together in communion together with Christ. We can commemorate God whenever we eat together. Also, it is a denominational (human-made) constraint that specially-trained persons can only lead the Lord's Supper. As the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), any group of believers can do this together.

Jesus had many meals with His disciples. Each of them can be considered breaking bread and drinking together. However, we have one unified record of Jesus eating with His disciples the night before He was captured and sent to the cross. The Last Supper is recorded in the following passages: Matthew 26:17-29, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-39.

We can see in each account how close Jesus and His disciples were together. We can see that when they ate together, it was an environment of honesty and calling people out to accountability. Jesus says to the group that one of them will betray him. In Luke's account, He also tells Peter that Satan has asked to tempt him but that Jesus prayed for him (verse 32). Jesus knew each of the members, and we, too, are called to deep relationships as His Church.

The Lord's Supper can be considered whenever we eat together. It can also be a special occasion, just as Jesus set up His last special meal with His disciples. Regardless of the setup, Jesus teaches us this:

  1. If we do not partake in the communion, we do not belong to Him. By doing this, you are recognizing Jesus is your Savior. Even though the world rejected Him (John 6:66), that you will follow Him.
  2. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.
    -John 6:56 (NLT) (Read John 6:49-58 for complete context)
  3. We can provide the meal and drink and invite others to come. Somebody has prepared it, which we, too, can do as people called to the marketplace. We can invite and welcome people to our homes, provide the meal and the drink, and ask Jesus to commune with us.
  4. On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?" "As you go into the city," he told them, "you will see a certain man. Tell him, `The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.'" So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there. When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the twelve disciples.
    -Matthew 26:17-20 (NLT) (Also remember, breaking of bread is a core small group/Church activity. See Acts 2:42-47)
  5. It is a call to a relationship first. 1Corinthians 11:33 (See verses 29-34 for context) says to wait for one another. This observance is something to be done together as the unified Church. This ceremony brings us together and declares us as one. Why? Because we have one Father who provides for all our needs, including the atonement for our sins.
  6. So, my dear brothers and sisters, when you gather for the Lord's Supper, wait for each other.
    -1 Corinthians 11:33 (NLT)
  7. The Lord's Supper involves looking back to the cross to remember and declare what He has done until He returns.
    For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord's death until he comes again.
    -1 Corinthians 11:26 (NLT)

Doing Communion

When we practice communion, we eat a piece of bread and drink wine (or grape juice) together.

The bread represents the unity, where He affirms that we are part of His body, the Church. It tells us that we are His, and our lives are not dependent on us. How much we strive when we do not see fruits of our labor! Yet, fortunately, our lives are not about us, and He will provide for all of our needs. We need to remain focused (or at least re-focus if you have lost it) on the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).

We may feel we are unworthy of such a role, but He declares it is because of what He has done, not because of our worthiness. He breaks apart one loaf of bread (thereby symbolizing that each of us are part of His body) and allows us to eat it. It is manna, where we did not have to do anything to receive it, and now we just need to eat it. The acceptance of the bread symbolizes that we place our trust in Him and are willing to accept the call to be part of His body.

The wine represents the New Covenant. The Old covenant was to keep the law. We recognized that we could not keep it even with our best efforts. God's New Covenant is that it is not because of us, but that our relationship with God is restored by God's grace. He gives us the faith to believe, and we can remain in Him (again, no work or fruitful production is needed). In Ezekiel 36:26-27, God tells us, "And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations."

The New Covenant is this: God will enable us to fulfill all His commands that we cannot keep on our own. His atonement covers it whenever we fail. He would give us the heart to love one another, to remain focused on His kingdom work, and He will provide for all our needs. His grace covers it all.

Jesus renewed our hearts and gave us new life through the blood He shed for us. Through his death on the cross, He has atoned our sins. Now, we can have a direct relationship with God through the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us.

However, there is a catch. Whenever we come together for communion, we must eat and drink worthily. How? By honoring one another and by truly examining ourselves and turning away from any sin in our hearts. It means to put God back as the highest priority and lay down other things that are most important to us, including our businesses, professions, families, our pride, and anything else that may take the place of God in our hearts.

So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God's judgment upon yourself.
-1Corinthians 11:27-29 (NLT) (See verses 27-34 for full context)

Communion is an opportunity to stop together from busy work and rejoice in what Jesus has done. We can lay down all our worries and enjoy what God is doing. We can do this together as the Church of Jesus Christ, remembering what He has done and looking forward to what He is doing and will do together with us.

Other References

Remember, breaking of bread, that is, eating together is the core part of the Church and small groups. Acts 2:42-47

People can come to know Christ as they eat together. Luke 24:35