WHY AND HOW DO CHRISTIANS PRACTICE THIS RITUAL?
Glenn W. Harrell 2018
Once again, we face the daunting word WHY. Perhaps the most important word we can use in life. A truthful answer not only frees us but it also gives us a clearer mandate.
We know WHY we are to remember.
–His death gives life to repentant sinners.
His shed blood and death, offered once: “But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” Hebrews 10:12
Thus we know that giving thanks (Eucharist) is an attitude in the heart–that personal salvation through faith and repentance (our Passover) is a once forever event–never to be repeated event. Yet, we will remember them both as the “New Creation” moments that they were and are.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” II Corinthians 5:17
The Lord’s supper is a remembrance for this reason and not a recreation or repetition.
The Passover meal was no accident. Historically, the Passover for the Jewish people was a celebration of deliverance from slavery. Passover for the Christ-follower is a deliverance from the bondage and obligation to sin. Instead of blood on a doorpost, Christ shed his blood for the remission of sins on a cross. In figurative, Passover-speak, Jesus said,
“This bread is my body” “This wine my blood”.
The disciples partook of THAT bread and THAT wine
never to be consumed again.
But we do remember.
Clearing up WHY teaches us that HOW (our hearts condition) is far more significant than HOW OFTEN. A rebellious believer, unburdened by personal sin, with no intention of repentance will only be harmed by more Eucharistic endeavor. (I Corinthians 11:27-32)
Yet the humble confessions of repetition and sincerity met with an occasional supper of remembrance is at the heart of our gospel. We know that no one will ever be worthy to remember and partake as a worthy person, yet we all are commanded to partake in a worthy manner—Confession of known sin and an attitude of submission with thanksgiving.
27 But if you eat the bread and drink the wine in a way that isn’t worthy of the Lord, you sin against his body and blood. 28 This is why you must examine the way you eat and drink. 29 If you fail to understand that you are the body of the Lord, you will condemn yourselves by the way you eat and drink. 30 This is why many of you are sick and weak and why a lot of others have died. 31 If we carefully judge ourselves, we won’t be punished. 32 But when the Lord judges and punishes us, he does it to keep us from being condemned with the rest of the world.” –I Corinthians 11:27-32 CEV
We know that the Lord’s Supper is a BODY thing: Christ’s body and His Church, the body. The Passover and Christ’s blood are central in the covenant sacrifice. These are some of the the WHY we partake.
NOTE: A NON-CHRISTIAN WOULD NEVER PARTICIPATE IN THE OBSERVANCE OF THE LORD’S SUPPER. Hopefully, when unbelievers are present, they will grasp the sobriety and meaning of Christ’s death for them personally and this would translate into their own salvation.
How often do Christians participate and why? (I Corinthians 11)
PERIODIC (whenever you eat)
PERPETUAL (until He comes)
AS A PERSONAL PROCLAMATION ( as you go–proclaim)
The Lord’s Supper is a memorial feast in which we may further understand grace and salvation. It does not impart grace or salvation, it is a picture of such miracles. We may be moved by His death in gratitude and remembrance of our own salvation experience many times throughout our lives, though He died only once and we may be saved only once.
Nowhere is there any indication that His body and blood are to be mysteriously (Catholic and Eastern consecration) recreated and consumed as cannibals. (transubstantiation)
Church requirements for partaking of the Eucharist often indicate church teachings that observing the Eucharist contains present, repetitive, redemptive, salvific application and thus keeps the customers bound to return, lest they be lost again and again. The Lords Supper is not about solving their self-created, perpetual insecurity (see Catholic doctrine).
Nowhere are we told how often we must observe the Lord’s supper. Acts 20 could indicate support for a daily or weekly observance. Churches today observe weekly, bi-monthly, quarterly and even annually. Wisdom and the meaning of the remembrance will inform church Elders what to do concerning frequency of this necessary activity of the church. It is a necessity only in the need for obedience to a command, not to anyone’s salvation or security. Like our other Ordinance baptism, the Lord’s Supper is a beautiful picture of the work of Christ in this world, independent of the works of man in his efforts at either appeasing or pleasing God in exchange for salvation and security. We observe the Lord’s Supper because we are Christians, not to become or remain so.
In Acts, the early church met with a prescribed pattern for worship:
“They spent their time learning from the apostles, and they were like family to each other. They also broke bread and prayed together.” –Acts 2:42
1: Apostolic doctrine and teaching/preaching
2: Community and body-dynamics of fellowship/discipleship
3: The Lord’s Supper
The early church set a meal before the people at the end of their services (held in the evening) much as churches would do a “Pot Luck Dinner” today. It was known as a “Love Feast” (their opportunity for abuse). At the end of this feast then followed the Lords Supper Observance. Passover had a meal–Jesus had a meal–Why not the church then?
When believers are together (two or more) Christ’s presence is also there, whether we observe the Lord’s Supper or not.
“Whenever two or three of you come together in my name, I am there with you.” –Matthew 18:20
“When the time came for Jesus and the apostles to eat, 15 he said to them, “I have very much wanted to eat this Passover meal with you before I suffer. 16 I tell you that I will not eat another Passover meal until it is finally eaten in God’s kingdom.”
17 Jesus took a cup of wine in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he told the apostles, “Take this wine and share it with each other. 18 I tell you that I will not drink any more wine until God’s kingdom comes.”
19 Jesus took some bread in his hands and gave thanks for it. He broke the bread and handed it to his apostles. Then he said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Eat this as a way of remembering me!”
20 After the meal he took another cup of wine in his hands. Then he said, “This is my blood. It is poured out for you, and with it God makes his new agreement. 21 The one who will betray me is here at the table with me! 22 The Son of Man will die in the way that has been decided for him, but it will be terrible for the one who betrays him!”
23 Then the apostles started arguing about who would ever do such a thing.” Luke 22:14-23 CEV
for more reading: https://openhandspublications.com/2017/11/07/letter-to-a-new-christian/