And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.. Matthew 26:26-28
The eucharist, which means thanksgiving, includes the receiving of the bread and the wine, as Jesus said, “Take, eat, and drink,” but it also encompasses the entire event of believers gathering to pray, share the Holy Scriptures, and sing songs of praise. We gather for the eucharist, of which, the Lord’s Supper, or communion, is the central element, the point and crescendo, as we give thanks to Father God, Jesus the only begotten Son, and the Holy Spirit, for the revelation of Divine mercy, grace and love—in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
In this sense, the celebration of communion with God around the table of the Lord, is the center of the life of the church. Everything we are and do flows from here. It is where we begin, it is where we are complete, and it is our goal—to receive the body and blood, to commune, to become one with Him, a partaker of Christ (Hebrews 3:14 KJV).
Jesus initiated communion on the evening He shared the Passover meal with the disciples. What a beautiful picture is painted in the timing of this event. The Passover meal was celebrated by the Jewish nation each year as a reminder of God’s deliverance from the slavery of Egypt. Instructions were given, those many years ago, for a meal to be prepared, a last supper of sorts, and consumed in a certain way, with the promise that the following day they would be set free—and they were.
Now, the Jewish Messiah, the long awaited King and Deliverer, had come. And as Jesus shared the Passover meal it wasn’t in remembrance, only, it was in true, real-time, fulfillment. As He, Jesus Christ, Messiah, became God’s Passover Lamb, and was crucified, buried and resurrected again to life, delivering mankind, not from slavery to a repressive earthly regime, but to sin itself, to death, and the grave. He bought true freedom for mankind through His precious blood, leading us from the darkest darkness of death, into the marvelous light and life of God’s kingdom.
This once-for-all deliverance, sacrifice, and victory, was embodied as Jesus told His disciples to eat the bread, which is His body, and to drink from the cup, which is His blood, declaring and signifying His presence both within us and in our midst as His Church, the Body of Christ.
Many of us, leaders, lay-persons, and well-intentioned, mature Christians, minimize the importance and place of communion in the life of the church, exchanging it’s regular celebration with longer sermons or worship experiences. While the beautiful, mystical, Christ-ordained, experience of God’s communion with His children, is relegated to a monthly, quarterly, or annual, spot on the church calendar. Unfortunate.
Weatherproof lives will never stray far from this table, for communion, the eucharist, is the center of rest and strength, presence and power, gratitude and thanksgiving. Glory to God in Christ for His presence in and among His people, experienced and symbolized, in the eucharist.