What is the significance of the Lord’s Supper?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Q. Would you talk about the significance of the Lord’s Supper, and why we observe it on a weekly basis?

Introduction – The Lord’s Supper is an important part of the Christian Worship, our purpose in this lesson will be to:

1) Learn the teaching of the Scriptures regarding the Lord’s Supper as distinguished from the traditions of men.

2) To appreciate its importance and significance.

3) To enhance and improve our observing of it.

We will talk about it’s :

1) Institution

2) Purpose

3) Partaking

Before we do that, let’s notice that in the New Testament there are several terms that are used to designate the Lord’s Supper:

1) In Acts 20:7 – It is refereed to as the breaking of bread.

2) In I Cor. 10:16 it is refereed to as the cup of blessing and the breaking of bread.

3) I Cor. 10:21 refers to it as the table of the Lord.

These are the Scriptural terms used to designate the Lord’s supper, and we should be careful to avoid using terms which are not Biblical.

II Tim 1:13 –

Retain the Standard of Sound Words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.

Titus 2:1 –

Speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.

There are terms used by men, i.e. Sacrament. – according to Webster’s New International Dictionary sacrament means: ‘the oath of allegiance taken by Roman soldiers.

Another term used is Eucharist. Webster defines this as coming from the Greek word which means, a giving thanks.

I will grant that there is an element of thanks involved in the Lord’s Supper but we must remember that these are not Biblical terms,and should be avoided by God’s people.

I. THE INSTITUTION OF THE LORD’S SUPPER

A. The Lord’s supper was instituted by Christ Himself.

1. Matthew 26:26-29

26* ¶ While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body."

27* And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you;

28* for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

29* "But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom."

2. I Corinthians 11:23 – 26

23* ¶ For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;

24* 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."

25* In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."

26* For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.

B. So Matthew tells us that it was following the Passover supper, and Paul informs us that it was instituted before Christs crucifixion.

II. THE PURPOSE OF THE LORD’S SUPPER

A. The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is not for the forgiveness of sins. (In some centuries it was administered to Children because of this mistaken belief.)

B. It is not to roll sins forward a week at a time. (Some get this idea from a comparison to misconceptions about O.T. sacrifices).

C. The Lord’s Supper has Four purposes according the Scriptures:

1. It is a communion of the fellowship in the blood and body of Christ.

I Cor. 10:15-21:

15 ¶ I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say.

16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?

17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.

18 Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar?

19 What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?

20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.

21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

When we eat the Lord’s supper, we are expressing the fact that we have been saved by the sacrifice of Christ of Calvary. We are in fellowship with that which saves us from sin. (Therefore not for those outside Christ)

2. The Lord’s Supper is a commemoration of the Sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

I Cor. 11:24:

24* 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."

We are to remember Christ and His suffering for us as we eat the Lord’s supper.

3. The Lord’s Supper proclaims the death of Christ.

I Cor. 11:26:

26* For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.

As Christians eat the Lord’s Supper, they proclaim that the broken body and shed blood of Jesus was given on the cross for the sins of the world.

4. The Lord’s Supper proclaims the fact that Jesus is coming again.

I Cor. 11:26:

26* For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.

As the Christian eats, he shows his faith in the Lord’s promise that He will come again.

Acts. 1:10,11:

And as they were gazing intently into the sky while he was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them: And they also said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the Sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched him go into heaven.

We express our intimate relationship to Christ, we remember his sacrifice, the meaning of it, we remind ourselves of his death for our sins and the events which followed it, and we proclaim by faith our belief in his return, based upon his resurrection.

III. THE PARTAKING OF THE LORD’S SUPPER

A. When do we fulfill our obligation to God in partaking of the Lord’s supper? (Thurs. night?Fri. night? Sat?)

1. Following the example of the church in Jerusalem, as directed by the apostles, the supper is eaten regularly.

Acts 2:42 –

And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

2. We find the church in Troas observing the Lord’s supper on the first day of the week in Acts 20:7.

3. The church in Corinth met on the first day of the week and they ate the Lord’s supper according to I Cor. 16:2, 11:20.

4. Christians today are to partake of the Lord’s supper steadfastly on the first day of the week.

5. The First Day of the Week is significant because:

a. Christ arose on the first day of the week – Matt. 28:1-10.

b. The Holy Spirit came on the first day of the week – Acts 2

c. The Church was established on the first day of the week – Acts 2

d. The plan of salvation was given for the first time on the 1st day of the week – Acts 2.

e. The Lord’s Supper was observed on the 1st day of the week – Acts 20:7.

f. Gospel offerings were taken on the 1st day of the week – I Cor. 16:1-2.

g. The 1st day of the week is called the Lord’s day in Rev. 1:10.

B. THE ELEMENTS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER

1. The unleavened bread as used at the Passover meal, which represents Christ’s body.Following the example of our Lord we are not to use just any bread, but only unleavened bread. We know that some Jews, in Jesus day mixed oil and salt with the bread to please themselves.

a. This bread is not his literal body, as the doctrine of transubstantiation says, but representative of his body.

READ I Cor. 11:26 –

26* For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.

His body was present at the time and Christ clearly refers to this element as BREAD.

b. Transubstantiation is the change by and at the consecration of the elements in the Eucharist, of the whole substance of the bread and the wine into the body and blood of Christ.

2. The fruit of the vine, some versions have wine. This is the wine that was used at the Passover. This fruit of the vine was not his literal blood, because his blood had not been shed at this time, and after offering thanks, Jesus still calls it fruit of the vine. Mt. 26:29

C. HOW WE ARE TO PARTAKE OF THE LORD’S SUPPER

1. Here again, we follow our Lord’s example.

a. Jesus took bread, and blessed it… and he took the cup, and gave thanks (Matt. 26:26-27, Mk. 14:22-23); And he took bread and gave thanks… Likewise also the cup (Lk. 22:19-20) Took bread, and when he had given thanks, be brake it… After the same manner also he took the cup (I Cor. 11:24- 25).

b. Jesus’ prayer was a prayer of thanksgiving for the elements of the Lord’s supper. It was not a prayer of general content. Listen carefully to the wording of the prayers at the Lord’s table sometime. We ask God to make us worthy or Aware of the significance or Help us partake in a worthy manner or bless us as we partake but we never seem to get around to saying THANK YOU FOR THIS BREAD.

c. Next, in our partaking, the apostle Paul declared to the church at Corinth:

I Cor. 11:27,28

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

d. There is probably no other expression in the New Testament that has given more trouble to Christians than the expression unworthy manner. Improper teaching on this subject has caused Christians to abstain from communion saying I will wait until I correct my wrongs, or until I am worthy, or I’m not a perfect person… etc.

In the 18th century in England and Scotland abusive application of this passage led Alexander Campbell to see the need for Restoration. The officials of a church would visit an individual and discuss his worthiness. If he was found worthy he was given a chunk of lead to be placed in the plate as the communion was passed to demonstrate his worthiness, and therefore his right to partake of the Lord’s supper.

e. No person is really worthy of the death of Christ. If the table of the Lord were only for worthy people (perfect persons), none of us could ever eat the Lord’s Supper

The word translated unworthy manner is an ADVERB. An adverb is never used to describe a person; it describes a person’s actions. In this case it describes the manner of participation in the supper, not the character of the person partaking. One partakes in an unworthy manner if he does not discern the body of the Christ.

So, when observing the communion, one must be mentally aware of the body and blood of Jesus which the elements of the supper represent.

One must be emotionally involved in the events of Calvary. The eating of these elements is vain if not done sincerely from the heart. When one is aware of the greatness of what he is taking part in – when he has a deep sense of the love that these symbols represent, and when he is aware of the obligation that is laid upon him – he will not let other thoughts distract him from worship.

If one fails to show the proper respect to the Lord’s sacrifice by eating in a manner not worthy of such a sacrifice, he is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. To eat of the bread, or drink of the fruit of the vine in a careless or thoughtless way is to show an unconcerned attitude toward the death of Christ, and to actually classify oneself with those who initially crucified our Lord.

What about self-examination? God requires that we worship in spirit and truth – John 4:24. We ought to examine ourselves before every phase of worship to God. To perform any act of worship carelessly or in a way not prescribed by Him, is to show contempt for the Creator we worship.

The word examine means to test. Each person is to test himself. One is not to test another. This testing is concerning the manner of partaking the Lord’s supper, including one’s attitude toward the Lord’s body and blood as he communes. One must test himself to determine if he exhibits the proper reverence due the body and blood of the Son of God.

Comments are closed.