I feel especially blessed to have attended church from childhood! But one risk of growing up in church is that you can become mentally mechanical during the church service. Communion time is one example. I think many Christians acknowledge the significance of Communion but often feel “in a rut” during Communion. So it’s helpful to rethink what is taking place as you participate.
When you consume the elements of the bread and the cup, what benefit do you receive?
Participation in the elements signifies participation in the crucified Christ. You symbolically appropriate the benefits which Christ’s sacrificial death secures. For example:
1. Participation signifies that Christ’s death has given you new life. It is not longer you who live, but Christ who lives in you, and the life you now live, you live by faith in the Son of God who loves you and gave himself for you (Gal. 2:20). Eating and drinking benefit the physical body, giving health and strength. When you eat and drink the elements as Jesus directed, you are showing that you have entered into relationship with Jesus and that you enjoy the spiritual benefits and accept the responsibilities of this relationship. John Murray states,
“When we partake of the cup in faith, it is the Lord’s own certification to us that all that the new covenant in his blood involves is ours. It is the seal of his grace and faithfulness.”
Theologian Louis Berkhof: “The Lord’s Supper…assures the believing participant … that he was personally the object of that incomparable love.” Communion confirms that all the promises and blessings of salvation actually belong to you!
2. Participation demonstrates that you are a member of Christ’s church. In the Old Testament, special meals often established a special, binding relationship. Abraham prepared a meal for his angelic visitors, indicating not just hospitality but a bond. When the Lord confirmed his covenant with Israel on Mt Sinai, Exodus 24 says “they saw the God of Israel” and they ate and drank. Before Joshua led Israel into the promised land, they ate the Passover meal to reconfirm the covenant and recommit themselves to God. So too, Jesus bound his disciples to himself in this special meal. The act of communion presents a visible difference between members of Christ’s church and the world.
3. Participation is also an opportunity to restate your faith in Jesus as Saviour. In remembrance of Christ, we pledge allegiance to him as our Master, declaring our commitment to obey all that Jesus has commanded.
EXTRA: Can you imagine having Communion every Sunday? Charles Spurgeon gives an interesting perspective:
“My witness is, and I think I speak the mind of many of God’s people now present, that coming as some of us do, weekly, to the Lord’s table, we do not find the breaking of bread to have lost its significance—it is always fresh to us. I have often remarked on Lord’s-day evening, whatever the subject may have been, whether Sinai has thundered over our heads, or the plaintive notes of Calvary have pierced our hearts, it always seems equally appropriate to come to the breaking of bread. Shame on the Christian church that she should put it off to once a month, and mar the first day of the week by depriving it of its glory in the meeting together for fellowship and breaking of bread, and showing forth of the death of Christ till he come. They who once know the sweetness of each Lord’s-day celebrating his Supper, will not be content, I am sure, to put it off to less frequent seasons. Beloved, when the Holy Ghost is with us, ordinances are wells to the Christian, wells of rich comfort and of near communion.”