Acts 2:42-46 – Every believer was faithfully devoted to following the teachings of the apostles. Their hearts were mutually linked to one another, sharing communion and coming together regularly for prayer. A deep sense of holy awe swept over everyone, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. All the believers were in fellowship as one body, and they shared with one another whatever they had. Out of generosity they even sold their assets to distribute the proceeds to those who were in need among them. Daily they met together in the temple courts and in one another’s homes to celebrate communion. They shared meals together with joyful hearts and tender humility.
There was something special going on in the early days of the new church born in Jerusalem after the Day of Pentecost. The people had changed, the atmosphere of the city had changed, a sense of new life and new beginnings was in the air. It seemed as if it was a shared or a communal life that was permeating this new community of believers. Everything from prayer, worship, and teaching had taken on a new life. It seems that the large gatherings were just a part of this new life, the private homes were ablaze with new life as well. Here is a quote from the Passion Notes about these home gatherings.
“This was more than sharing meals, but participating together in observing the Lord’s Table. The Aramaic, which can be translated “the Eucharist” or “holy communion,” makes it even more explicit.”
These were more than church pot lucks, apparently they were celebrating communion just like Jesus had taught them just a few days earlier. The homes were filled with life as they celebrated the death and resurrection of the Son of God. Here is another quote about this fledgling church trying to find its way.
“As translated from the Aramaic. The Aramaic word for “church” is the joining of “meet” and “come.” This word is an invitation to enter into fellowship with Christ and his people. The Greek word for “church” is ekklesia, which is “called-out ones.”
These called out ones were the beginning of a new movement that is still alive and well today. The center of it is seen in today’s passage; the apostle’s teaching, fellowship, prayer, and the communion meal. It was simple yet permeated with the power of God.
Matt.26:26-29 – As they ate, Jesus took the bread and blessed it and broke it and gave it to his disciples. He said to them, “This is my body. Eat it.” Then taking the cup of wine and giving praises to the Father, he entered into covenant with them, saying, “This is my blood. Each of you must drink it in fulfillment of the covenant. For this is the blood that seals the new covenant. It will be poured out for many for the complete forgiveness of sins. The next time we drink this, I will be with you and we will drink it together with a new understanding in the kingdom realm of my Father.”
I see this verse differently than I used to see it. When Jesus said “the next time we drink this” I thought He was talking literally about being with Him in the place called heaven. This goes back to the central theme of Jesus’s teaching as well as His ultimate purpose. He taught about the kingdom and He came to bring us into the kingdom. He wasn’t talking about a place called heaven but He was speaking of the kingdom realm that we are now part of and is currently invading the earth. Communion is a prophetic fulfillment of His prayer, “Let your kingdom come and let your will be done on earth”. We are now in His kingdom tasting the benefits of His death and resurrection. The kingdom of God is here. Here are some thoughts from the Passion Notes on this verse.
“We are now in the realm of the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit brings us into the body of Christ and into the reality of the kingdom of God. It is growing and increasing in scope, and every time believers drink of the cup of communion, Jesus is present with us. It is the Lord’s table, not ours. This was a prophecy of what would happen in just a matter of days from then, as believers would break bread together in remembrance of what Jesus did for them. Jesus now drinks it with us in a new way, and not just once a year at Passover, but every time we worship him by taking communion.”
So go ahead and lift up the cup of life and death; eat His body, drink His blood. This is the very heartbeat of our Christian community. We are enjoying the outpouring of His kingdom benefits in this life. The good news? There is way more to come!!!
2 Cor.13:14 – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
This verse describes the very essence of our spiritual life. There is a oneness or communion shared by the members of the trinity. God is one revealed in three distinct persons sharing a supernatural communion. This is the union we were called into and the oneness Jesus was praying for in John 17. When we are born again we become sharers of His Spirit. This is the source of our union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is also the basis of our union with the body of Christ. We share more than a common doctrine or philosophy, we are sharers together of life. We are joint partakers of the very life of God who is the Holy Spirit. Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on today’s verse.
“By the Communion of the Holy Ghost nothing else is to be understood but a common partaking of the Holy Ghost. Christians have the communion of the Holy Ghost that is they are partakers together with Christ and one with another of the same spirit. Christ has the spirit without measure and believers are partakers of his Spirit they have of his fullness – so they are partakers one with another of the same Spirit as the apostle expresses it in 1Cor.12:13 they all drink into one Spirit and that is meant by their having Communion of the Holy Ghost and that is to be understood that the Communion of the Holy Ghost in that blessing of the apostles in 2 Cor.13:14 which we use in dismissing our public assemblies . We wish that Christians may have the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that they may be partakers of the Holy Ghost.”
Edwards made reference to 1 Cor.12:13 – “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit”. It is in consistently drinking of His Spirit that we begin to experience the benefit of this fellowship we have been called into. This is how we participate in the fellowship, this is how we experience the oneness with the Lord and His church. Drinking together is the enjoyment of our Christian life. I can’t wait for Sunday!!!
John 6:35 ¶ Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
We were made to live off of God. This is the lesson of communion, God is the very sustenance of our lives. What is really troubling is what we try to satisfy the hunger of our souls with, for most it is anything but the Lord. Recently there have been many reports of the suicidal epidemic related to opioid use. There are people from every social group, ethnic group, and age group that are falling prey to drug abuse and actually thousands who have died as a result of overdosing. What would cause someone to resort to such drastic measures? Actually the answer is spiritual; we were made to live off of God. When we look to other things as the source of life and pleasure the results become catastrophic. Man has a basic need for God in his soul, that is the way we were made. Our capacity for happiness is God sized and nothing else can fill that God sized hole. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes our need for spiritual food.
“This excellency of Jesus Christ is the suitable food of the rational soul. The soul that comes to Christ, feeds upon this, and lives upon it; it is that bread which came down from heaven, of which he that eats shall not die; it is angels’ food, it is that wine and milk that is given without money, and without price. This is that fatness in which the believing soul delights itself; here the longing soul may be satisfied, and the hungry soul may be filled with goodness. The delight and contentment that is to be found here, passeth understanding, and is unspeakable and full of glory. It is impossible for those who have tasted of this fountain, and know the sweetness of it, ever to forsake it. The soul has found the river of water of life, and it desires no other drink; it has found the tree of life, and it desires no other fruit.”
It’s funny that no matter how much man advances his basic need is still the same. We need the Lord. He is our food and our drink. In Him alone we find life and in Him alone will we find peace for our souls.
Matt. 26:26-28 ¶ Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
The Family Meal was a huge part of family life growing up. Not everything about it was a pleasant memory. Who can forget the nightly threats, “If you don’t finish your peas you will be eating them for breakfast”. There were the positive aspects of the daily event, you were face to face with Mom and Dad, a family identity was being established. This family meal was the foundation of the family itself. The Jews obviously practiced this family meal, we catch a glimpse of it in their Passover Celebration described here by Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary.
“The lamb is roasted and then shared by the family in a meal which includes unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The family meal provides the context for the head of the family to explain the nature of the observance to the children similar feature of Unleavened Bread in Exod. 13:6–10. “Remembering” is combined with “retelling” in such a way that the events of the past are actualized for every Israelite in the context of the observance. Passover celebrates not only what God has done in the past, but also what God is doing in the present. Ritualized activity provides the occasion for celebration, reflection, and the formation of community identity.”
This is the very meal Jesus was sharing with His family of disciples the night before He was crucified. This family meal is called communion and has become the center of our church family life. Jesus explained the significance at that first Christian Family dinner. He said the bread was His body. Our family is the body of Christ, we have become one as we have become part of His family, bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. As He took the cup that night He shared about why He had to die. The drink was His blood that was poured out for the remission of our sins.
So communion is not just a symbolic meal, it is at the very heart of our Christian Community. We are one family because we share the intimacy of this family meal.
THE LAST SUPPER
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the* covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
What a week! So much had happened, it seemed like just a blur of fast moving events. There was the raising of Lazarus from the dead, the anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany, the foot washing performed by the Lord. But there was one event that stood out above all others. It started out as just another passover meal, something these jewish disciples had done every year all of their lives, but this time was different. Passover would never be the same again. As Jesus broke the bread, He said “This is my body, given for you.” The He took the wine and said, “This is is the new covenant in my blood”. No stranger words had ever been spoken. Somehow what He said reminded them of John the Baptist’s prophesy, “Behold the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” That week, thousands of lambs would be sacrificed for the sins of the people by the priests at the temple. Is that what Jesus was talking about? Was He somehow their sacrificial lamb? Was His death somehow connected to His strange phrase, the new covenant? So many questions, not many answers. They would not understand until after Jesus died and He began to open up their understanding. They, like the people of Jerusalem, had their focus on a messiah who would fix everything in this life, get rid of the Roman oppressors, heal their bodies, fix their economy. Nobody was thinking about a spiritual kingdom. Sound familiar? We have been bombarded over the past few years with “itching ears preachers” promising our best life now with no thought or preparation for the spiritual kingdom that Jesus came to establish. It would do us good to go back to this passover meal often. Let Him paint the picture of this scene on the tables of our heart. Remember the words of this, our sacrificed lamb. “Take, eat, this is my body given for you. Drink of it, all of you, for this is the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”.