All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord's Supper), and to prayer.
A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity...
— Acts 2:42-46 NLT
The early believers of Jesus devoted themselves to sacred meals together, both publicly and in their homes (Acts 2:42, 46). Whether they shared in the Lord's Supper, a common meal, or a common meal accompanied by the Lord's Supper, eating together was a holy time. In the early church, "breaking bread"
could mean any of these kinds of meals. However, few things were more important in the spiritual lives of Jesus' followers in the first century than the Lord's Supper. The New Testament, and especially our author, Dr. Luke, emphasize several important truths attached to the Supper:
- Jesus is present when believers share this simple meal (Luke 22:14-18; cf. Luke 24:13-35).
- While Sunday was a key day for believers to share in the Supper together publicly (Acts 20:7), from the beginning, Jesus' followers recognized meals together as a special time to remember the Lord through eating the Supper together (Acts 2:42, 46; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:26 — "for every time you eat...").
- Believers share in Jesus' blood sacrifice as they share in the cup (1 Corinthians 10:16).
- Those who share the Supper together are shaped into the bodily presence of Christ as they share in the bread (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).
- Because believers are joined to Jesus and his sacrifice, they are pledging to separate themselves from demonic influences and all that is evil (1 Corinthians 10:18-22).
- Believers share in the Supper to remember Jesus' sacrifice together, recognizing each other and waiting for each other to share in the Supper as Jesus' body, demonstrating love for and solidarity with each other (1 Corinthians 11:28-34).
- Believers recognize that participating in the Supper "unworthily" can bring judgment on themselves and lead to negative consequences, both physically and spiritually (1 Corinthians 11:27-32). However, sometimes there is a misunderstanding about the meaning of "unworthily." 1 Corinthians 11:29 gives the meaning when it says "without honoring the body of Christ." None of us is truly "worthy" spiritually on our own merit.
- The Supper invites believers to remember the Lord's death on the cross and his sacrifice as the beginning of God's new covenant with his people (1 Corinthians 11:25).
- As often as believers share in the celebration of the Supper, they remember Jesus' death in anticipation of his return (1 Corinthians 11:26).
I mourn our infrequent participation in the Supper, our routinely mechanical approach to the Supper, and our lack of focus on the Supper in our churches today. I hope you will join me in devoting yourself to "breaking bread"
with other believers — both in common meals together and in the Lord's Supper. Let's seek to bring back this early dimension of true Christian devotion and fellowship into our lives and our churches. (For ideas and devotionals focused on the Lord's Supper, see Heartlight's resource called, Beyond Bread and Wine
LORD Jesus, thank you for giving up everything for me. Thank you for giving us the Lord's Supper as a time for remembering your sacrifice, pledging ourselves to holiness like you, committing to serve others as you did, and joining together in solidarity as your body. I am sorry and hurt that we do not commit more time in our modern church services to remembering you in this way. I commit myself to honor you more regularly in my shared meals with others and in Holy Communion. Thank you for all you have given me. Amen.