This short study is designed to answer common questions on the subject of sharing communion, otherwise known as “breaking bread,” or “the Lord’s table.”
The Bible is the inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16), and therefore is always the final authority on any subject. As you go through this short study it would be a good idea to look up the scriptures in your own bible and perhaps underline them.
The Covenant Meal
Luke 22:19-20 Then he took a loaf of bread; and when he had thanked God for it, he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This wine is the token of God’s new covenant to save you—an agreement sealed with the blood I will pour out for you.
Prior to His death on the cross, at the time of the Jewish Passover feast, Jesus had a meal with His disciples. At that table with His friends He initiated a practice that all His followers were to emulate until His return. The bread that He broke in front of them signified His body which was to be broken in sacrifice for all people everywhere. The wine that they shared represented His own blood which would be shed for their sins, once and for all (Hebrews 7:27).
A time for remembrance
1 Corinthians 11:24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is givenL for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
When we come to the Lord’s Table and share the bread and the wine, we do so firstly to remember Jesus and all that He has done for us through Hs life, death and resurrection. We remember that Jesus paid for our sin, our sickness, our peace and our provision.
Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed!
2 Corinthians 8:9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
For the Jewish people the Passover meal was a time to remember how God had rescued them from captivity and brought them out into freedom. For the people of the New Covenant this table represents how Jesus has rescued us from the bondage of sin and all it’s consequences. It is a good thing for us to remember the goodness of God in sending Jesus.
A time for rejoicing
1 Corinthians 10:16 When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the benefits of the blood of Christ? And when we break the loaf of bread, aren’t we sharing in the benefits of the body of Christ?
The table of the Lord is a serious occasion, but not a sombre or sad one. We can rejoice in all that He has accomplished for us through his death, and rejoice in the fact that He is risen from the dead and now lives forever more.
Until He comes again
1 Corinthians 11:26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.
As we share the bread and wine at the Lord’s table we are proclaiming the sacrificial death of Jesus, and we are to do so until He returns. The Bible doesn’t say exactly how often, but we should do it as often as we can.
The Covenant Community
Exodus 12:43-45 Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the festival of Passover. No foreigners are allowed to eat the Passover lamb. But any slave who has been purchased may eat it if he has been circumcised. Hired servants and visiting foreigners may not eat it.
As this is a covenant meal it is meant to be shared only with those who are part of God’s covenant community. In other words it is a meal for Christians only. The Passover meal, which our covenant meal mirrors, was only for those who were circumcised and part of the Israelite community. For us baptism as a believer into Christ replaces the old covenant circumcision (Colossians 2:11-12, Romans 2:28-29), therefore only those baptised as believers into the body of Christ are eligible to share in the covenant meal. There is therefore a responsibility on local church leaders to ensure that only those who are born again believers participate.
Recognising the body of Christ
1 Corinthians 11:27-30 So if anyone eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily, that person is guilty of sinning against the body and the blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking from the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup unworthily, not honouring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died.
For those Christians who are partaking, there should be some self examination, making sure that we are right with God and with one another. In the letter to the Corinthian church Paul addresses the fact that the communion table had become a place of strife and self seeking, rather than a love feast where the members of the body (the church) came together in oneness and harmony.
All scripture quotations are taken from the New Living Translation ©1996 unless otherwise stated.