So this isn’t my normal “Table Talk” post, but since the subject was on the Lord’s Supper, I decided to classify it as such.
Jeremy and I were talking about the Lord’s Supper this morning. For a while now, we have talked about how we don’t think we have it right. That the early Christians were sharing meals together and remembering Jesus during those meals. They were meeting daily. They weren’t just “sharing” a bite of cracker and a sip of grape juice on Sunday mornings in solemn silence while staring at the back of each others’ heads. While we have had these conversations before, I had a new thought come seemingly out of nowhere about the whole thing.
What was the issue in 1 Corinthians 11? Some were getting full and drunk and others were going unprovided for. The meal was to remember Jesus and the new covenant He made with us – a covenant of love. Our commands from Him are to love God and love each other. What was instituted by Christ, a common meal made holy, was made holy in that we share it with one another. The remembrance of Him is that He was the sacrifice for ALL, and that we are all one in Him. The command He gave us was to love our neighbor.
How does the way we observe “communion” show love? How does it honor His sacrifice to die for all? How is it more than a rote memorial act? Why do we want to dwell on the solemness of His death, and not rejoice in His defeat over Death? Why do we want to close up in our own heads and shut out our spiritual brothers and sisters as we remember His act of love, mercy, and power?
I find it interesting that John, who was one of Jesus’s closest companions and in His innermost circle, doesn’t mention the Lord’s Supper as the other gospel accounts do. Instead, he chooses to focus on what Jesus taught them in those moments together when they gathered for Passover. He tells us how Jesus reminded them that believing in Him was what brought them to the Father; that He would give His Spirit to lead and guide; that to remain in Him, we must produce fruit (and that the result of remaining in Him will be the production of fruit); that we are to remain in His love; that the World will hate us because it hates Him, but we have the Spirit to help us testify and to work through us; and that we are to be unified with other believers in our trust in Him and our love for each other.
He mentions earlier that He is the Bread of Life, but He makes plain that it is His words that give us life (John 6:51, 63). He is the Word. The Word gives eternal life. The sacrifice that He gave was to reconcile all to Him so that none may be hungry, none may thirst – back to the problem in 1 Corinthians 11!! They weren’t remembering each other, weren’t showing love to each other, thinking only of themselves first. They had already forgotten the examples set right after the day of Pentecost, when the first Christians were sharing all things in common, caring for one another, sharing meals together, living in fellowship with each other – none were hungry and none were thirsty! (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35) The blessing was that all were one in Christ.
Yes, they shared remembrance of His sacrifice, His sacrifice of love for us, mercy on us. Love that we in turn should pour out on those around us. Love that unifies us in Him. That is what Jesus wants us to remember. His body wasn’t broken for us so that we could be divisive and separated (John 17). His blood wasn’t shed so we can look at the back of each other’s heads in silence, casting judgment on those who we deem “unworthy to partake”.
But Peter and Jude warn us of those who share in our fellowship meals, or love feasts, but are false teachers. Those who, as Jude 10 says, “scoff at things they do not understand”, or as 2 Peter 2:10 says, “are proud and arrogant, daring even to scoff at supernatural beings without so much as trembling.” Christ’s complaint to the church at Ephesus in Rev 2:4 was “You don’t love Me or each other as you did at first!”
What good does it do to go through the actions if there is no love? If there is no fellowship? He praised that the church at Ephesus had worked hard and endured – but they had forgotten how to love! In John 5, Jesus, in speaking to the religious leaders, says, “Your approval means nothing to me, because I know you don’t have God’s love within you.” Over and over in 1 John we read that to remain in Him we must have His love. And not just have it, but show it.
When Jesus was sitting with His disciples at that meal, He said the bread was His body. He is the Bread of Life. His words are our spiritual nourishment (Matthew 4:4). The wine was a representative of the new covenant – an agreement confirmed by His blood, for the salvation of all who would believe and repent and follow His commands. Which commands? To trust in Him and Love each other! (1 John 3:23)
1 Corinthians 11:27 says those who take it unworthily are guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. What body? The body of Christ. What is the body of Christ? The church! We are sinning against each other if we aren’t partaking correctly! What was wrong with what they were doing? They were putting themselves first – not waiting on the fellowship of the others. They weren’t showing love to the body of Christ What is the blood of the Lord? The symbol of the new covenant. What was the new covenant? The covenant of the Spirit, who gives life (2 Cor 3:6). The same Spirit He speaks of in John 14, which John recorded instead of giving an account of what we refer to as the Lord’s Supper. The same Spirit John tells us about all through 1 John. The Sprit that, if we have it, brings about the evidence of love – the love that we show to one another in the sharing of a common meal, a common life. When we “do this to remember Me,” and are “proclaiming His death”, we are remembering that He died just as He lived – for others, for love, sacrificing His own well-being for those who would become the church, His body. We do this by living for others, by loving others, by putting the body of Christ above our own. Not just by taking a bite of cracker and a sip of grape juice, but by being unified in Him, being His body and holding to the covenant that His blood was shed for.