Dear Precious Disciple,
Few things have been more important to My disciples through the centuries than My Supper. The Eucharist, the Lord's Supper, Communion, and Holy Communion are all terms that have been used to speak of My Supper. These names are based on things said in the Scriptures about sharing in this special meal of remembrance and anticipation. I shared in the seder
meal as part of Passover with My disciples before My betrayal, trials, and crucifixion. My disciples have called this the Last Supper over the years. That meal was a precious time with My disciples for many reasons. I wanted to show My love, to warn them of coming trials, and to plant seeds of hope beyond My crucifixion.
In the verses below, the apostle Paul makes clear one of the key reasons this meal was so important:
I passed on to you the tradition the Lord gave to me: On the same night the Lord Jesus was betrayed, He took the bread in His hands; and after giving thanks to God, He broke it and said, "This is My body, broken for you. Keep doing this so that you and all who come after will have a vivid reminder of Me."
My Supper with the disciples on that night provides you with a great foundation for your participation in Communion.
Paul points to several truths that he wants the disciples to get out of this time of communion together — or as he calls it in the verses below, "the Lord's Supper."
If you compare his points in his letter to the Corinthians with Luke's emphasis in the book of Acts on "breaking bread"
and you look back at the passion accounts in each of the four gospels, you can develop a much richer and broader emphasis for the celebration of My Supper in your day. What Paul says in the verses below is focused on correcting the awful abuses of the Corinthians. There was a division between rich and poor (the "haves" and the "have-nots") that included drunkenness on the part of some and being left out on the part of others. This breaking down of fellowship destroyed so much of the original intent and practice of My Supper.
I shared this meal with My disciples in very close fellowship before My death. I shared honest words with them. I demonstrated love and service by washing their feet. I gave them sharp warnings about their unfaithfulness before the night would end. I also gave them reassuring teaching about the future, the sending of the Holy Spirit, and My ultimate victory. This meal was a time of intimate fellowship. However, in the Corinthians' lust for a spiritual high, some of them had made My Supper into something they treated as almost magical (see yesterday's devotional
). From their warped and selfish perspective, they thought that the more they ate and drank, the more they honored Me and the better the celebration for them personally. For them, the concept of sharing this meal in close communion with others was forgotten. So Paul warned the Corinthians very clearly: They had to recognize two meanings of My body to celebrate My Supper correctly. He wanted them to remember Me and the price I paid on the cross with My body and My blood. In addition, he also wanted them to remember that they were My bodily presence as My church in the world. You need to recognize both meanings also! When you forget either understanding, something holy and precious is lost in My Supper!
In fact, Paul made the point that, because they had lost one of these emphases on My body in My Supper, they were actually drinking damnation upon themselves. Their disregard for My body, My people, was causing some in their community to be "sick and weak"
and causing some of the spiritual problems they were dealing with in their house churches in Corinth.
I want you to pay close attention to the things that Paul teaches in these verses. Don't forget Me and the price I paid for you in My body and with My blood. The bread and wine you take should be viewed by you as precious, as My body and blood. And, as you take the bread together, don't forget that all who take that bread are My bodily presence in the world and what happens to one part of My body impacts all the others. So as you remember My death, also show loving care to My ongoing life in My body, the church with whom you share My meal!
When we give thanks and share the cup of blessing, are we not sharing in the blood of the Anointed One? When we give thanks and break bread, are we not sharing in His body? Because there is one bread, we, though many, are also one body since we all share one bread.
(1 Corinthians 10:16-17)
On this next matter, I wish I could applaud you; but I can't because your gatherings have become counterproductive, making things worse for the community rather than better. Let me start with this: I hear that your gatherings are polarizing the community; and to be honest, this doesn't surprise me. I've accepted the fact that factions are sometimes useful and even necessary so that those who are authentic and those who are counterfeit may be recognized. This distinction is obvious when you come together because it is not the Lord's Supper you are eating at all. When it's time to eat, some hastily dig right in; but look — some have more than others: over there someone is hungry, and over here someone is drunk! What is going on? If a self-centered meal is what you want, can't you eat and drink at home? Do you have so little respect for God's people and this community that you shame the poor at the Lord's table? I don't even know what to say to you! Are you looking for my approval? You won't find it.
I passed on to you the tradition the Lord gave to me: On the same night the Lord Jesus was betrayed, He took the bread in His hands; and after giving thanks to God, He broke it and said, "This is My body, broken for you. Keep doing this so that you and all who come after will have a vivid reminder of Me." After they had finished dinner, He took the cup and in the same way said, "This cup is the new covenant, executed in My blood. Keep doing this; and whenever you drink it, you and all who come after will have a vivid reminder of Me." Every time you taste this bread and every time you place the cup to your mouths and drink, you are declaring the Lord's death, which is the ultimate expression of His faithfulness and love, until He comes again.
So if someone takes of this bread and drinks from the Lord's cup improperly — as you are doing — he is guilty of violating the body and blood of our Lord. Examine yourselves first. Then you can properly approach the table to eat the bread and drink from the cup; because otherwise, if you eat and drink without properly discerning the significance of the Lord's body, then you eat and drink a mouthful of judgment upon yourself. Because of this violation, many in your community are now sick and weak; some have even died. But if we took care to judge ourselves, then we wouldn't have to worry about being judged by another. In fact, the Lord's hand of judgment is correcting us so that we don't suffer the same fate as the rest of the rebellious world: condemnation.
From now on, brothers and sisters, this is what I want you to do: when you come together to eat at the Lord's table, wait for each other. If someone is hungry and can't wait, he should go home and eat. In that way, your gatherings won't result in God's judgment. The rest of the instructions I have for you will have to wait until I come.
(1 Corinthians 11:17-34)
O Father, thank You for tangible ways that those of us who live many years after Jesus' physical incarnation on earth can experience His presence. Holy Spirit, capture my heart at my Savior's sacrifice, the high price He paid to redeem me. Also, dear Spirit, please open my eyes to see the needs of those who are part of Jesus' body and who take Communion with me. Open my heart to reach out to them and care for them the same way Jesus cared for His disciples on the night He was betrayed and throughout His earthly ministry. I ask for this experience of a deeper grace at the Lord's table in Jesus' name. Amen.