The Lord's Supper
Nothing is more distinctive about Christians’ worship than eating the Lord’s Supper. Let’s review the basics.
Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper the night before He died. There are four accounts of it: Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25. In addition to the designation the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20), this meal is also referred to as breaking bread (Acts 2:42; 20:7), the table of the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:21), and communion (1 Corinthians 10:16, KJV).
Why to Eat
Jesus said of the bread, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Of the fruit of the vine He said, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Clearly, the purpose in eating is to remember Jesus’ death for us. (The wording this is does not mean these elements somehow become the actual body and blood of Jesus. He also said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood.” The bread and cup stand in the place of and call to mind His body, blood, and new covenant.)
1 Corinthians indicates several other things accomplished in eating the Lord’s Supper. In it we proclaim Jesus’ death, anticipating His return (11:26). It is a sharing or fellowship in Jesus’ death, a sharing with other partakers (10:16-17).
When to Eat
The first Christians “continued steadfastly” in the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42). That indicates regularity. Acts 20:7 reveals that they met on the first day of the week to break bread. That specifies the time. 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 confirms that the Lord’s Supper is to be eaten in assemblies of Christians, and 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 illustrates that these assemblies occur every week.
How to Eat
Paul warned that we must eat the Supper in a worthy manner. He did not say we must be worthy of it; no one is worthy of Jesus’ death for him. But all can partake in a worthy manner by distinguishing this meal from ordinary eating (Paul insisted that the two be kept separate) and by remembering Jesus’ death as we eat. Toward that end we must examine ourselves as we eat (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).
The Bible nowhere says that the Lord’s Supper is the most important part of our worship. It is obviously a vital element to keep alive in us the memory of what Jesus has done for us and to remind ourselves weekly of who and what we are: His servants, purchased with His blood.