Remember with Reverence
Bread and wine or juice. To the Christian, these are symbols of remembrance, love, sacrifice, and suffering. Communion is one of the few symbolic acts Jesus told His disciplines to do. While the Old Covenant and Law of Moses were filled with rituals, practices, symbolic acts, and important duties, the New Covenant under the blood of Christ does not require the endless sacrifices and duties of the former covenant. However, Jesus did give us a special way in which we are to remember, reflect, and celebrate the great sacrifice made to purchase our freedom.
While we could do a deep dive into the history, background, significance, and differing theological views on communion, I want to stay focused on how and why Paul addresses this aspect of church life in his letter to the Corinthians and how it applies to us today. Most churches today, celebrate communion as part of the Sunday morning service and with the basic elements of bread and juice (or in some places wine). While this is totally appropriate for our day and age, to understand the issues that were taking place around the Lord’s Table in Corinth, we must understand a couple of things.
First, communion, also known as the Lord’s Supper, was originally part of an actual meal. Jesus stood up during the Passover meal and instituted the first communion, commanding His disciples to continue the practice in remembrance of Him. The Corinthians continued the practice of observing communion within the context of a full meal.
Second, first century observances of communion were celebratory. They were times to remember, but also times of fellowship and celebration as believers gathered around a common meal and rejoiced in the love and freedom in Christ. While this in and of itself was not a bad thing, it sometimes got out of hand and turned into more of a party scene. This was definitely true in Corinth. In a culture surrounded by pagan worship which often included festivals with food and wine, the Corinthians were inclined to go over the top with their observance of the Lord’s Supper. Instead of it being a time of solemn remembrance and orderly celebration, it spiraled into a chaotic party of overindulgence and gluttony.
This is why Paul brought up this topic in 1 Corinthians 11.
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when 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 also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”
~1 Corinthians 11:23-30
Remembering Jesus’ death through communion is to be done with complete reverence and honor. His sacrifice was profound and great; therefore, we should remember appropriately. God takes this act of remembrance very seriously. Obviously, the Corinthians were guilty of inappropriately and irreverently partaking of the Lord’s Table and the result was that many were ill and some even died. This shows how seriously God views this act of remembrance.
The Corinthians were consistently approaching communion with an irreverent attitude and in a self-focused manner. They had turned the act of remembering Jesus’ horrific death into a party and opportunity to eat and drink in excess. Therefore, the Lord brought judgment on the people.
While we might not be guilty of getting drunk during communion or turning it into a party, we can still be guilty of approaching it with an irreverent attitude, which in God’s eyes is just as deserving of judgment. So let us learn from the mistakes of the Corinthians and heed Paul’s warning to always examine ourselves before partaking in the Lord’s Table. Communion is a beautiful act of remembrance and fellowship and helps bring unity into the church. However, it must be done with the right heart attitude because God will not be mocked. It should not be taken flippantly or with a careless attitude. It should not be self-focused or done with an irreverent attitude. Jesus’ death and sacrifice is extremely significant and of great magnitude. Therefore, let us remember His death with reverence and honor appropriate for the King of Kings.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
View the About page for more info on the author.
Receive Posts via Email