In the early church, they had a weekly common meal that they called the Agape (Love) Feast. The whole church would come to one place and eat together. At the end of the meal, they would receive the Communion elements of bread and wine.
They did this because the Lord’s Supper was originally a part of the Jewish Passover meal. When Jesus celebrated it with His disciples, it came at the end of the Passover dinner. So in the early days of the church, Communion was celebrated in the context of a dinner.
In Corinth, this devolved into a form of divisiveness. Look at Paul’s words to them.
When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!
1 Corinthians 11:20-22
Apparently, what had started out as a common meal, had turned into an “every man for himself” event. The rich would bring a lavish spread. The poor would come with a loaf of bread or nothing at all. But unlike our potluck dinners, where everything is shared, each family only ate what they brought.
This angered Paul. Instead of bringing the body of Christ together, it became a way for the rich to show off. What they were eating became the showpiece of the dinner.
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Paul makes the purpose of the Lord’s Supper very clear. It’s not about me and my exquisite taste in food. It all revolves around remembering Christ and what He accomplished for us.
The Lord is the central figure. We remember that His body went to the cross, bearing all of our shame, sickness, and pain. We remember His blood that was shed for the forgiveness of our sin. In these simple acts of eating and drinking, we show what Christ has done for us and look forward to His return.
Jesus said that if He was lifted up, He would draw everyone to Himself. The Lord’s Supper should have brought the church together. Instead, it focused on the rift between rich and poor.
In our culture, many churches only celebrate it once a month at the end of a service…if at all. A lot of Christians receive it as a mere tradition of the church. It’s more than that.
It should be an important time when we focus our attention on Christ and what He’s done for us. We should attach our faith to it as we receive the elements. We should see ourselves as receiving the full benefits of what Christ paid for on the cross.
When you celebrate Communion, let it draw you closer to the Lord and His work in you.
Question: How do you remember Christ in Communion?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi