4. Do this in remembrance of Me (Luke 22:19).
The Holy Communion that Christ instituted, which the whole Christian world accepts is a hard teaching for the Jesus Christians to accept. They never could get around how Jesus would institute a ritual into the lives of His followers, when He had come hard against other ritualistic behaviours, like repetitive prayers and done away with sacrifices and other religious practices commanded in the Law. Rather than observe any ordinance, they had their own translation of this teaching or instruction from Jesus. It went:
“Whenever you come together to have your meals within your communes, remember Me”.
So, they never actually observed anything that would be considered a ‘communion’. They believed that since they lived communally, and ate and drank together everyday, that they were following this teaching of Christ. Regardless of whether or not they actually ate and drank reverently, or took a moment to acknowledge the grace they enjoyed because of His sacrifice.
I never really knew where to stand on this issue. I accepted their understanding, because I also thought it seemed a bit Old Testament of Jesus. It didn’t gel with the other things I knew about the New Covenant. However, when I attended a Church, and they were observing this ordinance, I was always very reverent. I would always pray and examine myself before I partook of it. And sometimes, I would decide not to.
But it is worth looking into how this teaching was practiced by the first disciples. It is clear from an honest reading of 1 Corinthians 11:20-29, that they didn’t consider this to be their regular mealtime or an inconsequential part of their ‘communal’ lifestyle. They actually eat their usual meals IN THEIR OWN HOMES, and CHOSE and AGREED to MEET to HONOUR the Lord by breaking bread and drinking wine together. Paul said:
When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.
For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
It is interesting to note that preceding this section, Paul talked about ‘heresies’ that were being ignored within the Church (1 Cor 11:19), and at the conclusion of it, he said that it was because people didn’t give due honour to the Lord’s body in this way that many were falling sick, and even dying…(1 Cor 11:30). Whether this practice is religious or not, it definitely holds great spiritual significance.
On a new reading of this, I don’t think Jesus was being religious about it at all, nor the early disciples, who actually practiced it. Jesus didn’t say they should observe this practice every week, or every month, or every full moon or whatever. He just told them to DO IT…in remembrance!!! What’s religious about that? Don’t even the worldly and carnal remember their dead? Although He is risen, we do it to remember His death and sacrifice, and His love and grace upon our lives.
We decide how often we should partake of this special meal, and whenever we do so, we must do it honourably… With reverence! That’s what Paul is saying here. This is not religion. This is spirituality. It is the religious that want to turn something right and honourable into a ritual that loses significance and meaning. And you know, it appears that they actually ate more than bread…it was a full meal, enough for people to be filled and even drunk on it, not like the wafers and milk cups we pass in Church these days!
When I started writing this post, I really didn’t know where I would end up, or if I would gain any new insight into this teaching. However, I have learned something. Being spiritual is not something you can learn…like religion. It is something you are. And no one can fake it.
Hence, we must be born again, of the Spirit of God (John 3:3-8, 1 Pet 1:23). It is this Spirit that is able to discern, and appreciate spiritual things! The carnal mind cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit…as it is written:
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:14-16).
Thank You, Lord, for Your Spirit of Truth that is able to teach us all things…(John 16:13).
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