Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Importance of Communion

by Pastor Ron Bridge of Rehoboth Baptist Church

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:42). A very literal translation of 42b is: in the breaking of the bread. The inclusion of the definite article indicates that this bread was not the ordinary bread of mealtimes, such as we see in Acts 2:46 where bread in that verse is not preceded by the article. Communion was a vital part of the life of every Christian in Jerusalem. They had communion with the Lord through the study of the apostle's doctrine, and they had communion with the Lord in gathering around the Communion Table.

Less than two months had passed since the first celebration of the Supper on the night before Jesus was crucified, no doubt the memory of that evening was still vivid and they wanted to hold onto to it as long as possible. It was also a reminder, not only of what Jesus had accomplished for them in His death and resurrection, but also of His promise to return. Given these things, they joyfully obeyed the Lord's command to observe communion regularly. The celebration of the communion meal was essential to the Christians of the early church because it bound them to the Lord Jesus Christ as nothing else could. This is why it is still essential for Christians today.

The Lord's Supper keeps His substitutionary atonement fresh in our memory. When Jesus instituted this memorial celebration He did so by recalling the events of the original Passover when the angel of death passed over all those who were covered by the blood of the sacrifice. Christians, likewise, are covered by the blood of the perfect, once for all sacrifice, and as we participate in the Supper we are reminded afresh of just how great a price has been paid for our salvation. Because we still sin and need to confess our sins Communion reminds us, in a way that nothing else does, that we are forgiven. It reminds us of our dependence on Christ, of His gracious and merciful love for His people, and of His promised return.

In partaking of the bread and the cup the believer and the Lord are united in what is a Holy Communion. It is no ordinary meal. It is to be attended with a sense of awe and humility and reverence. It must not be treated lightly or shabbily - remember Paul’s rebuke to the careless Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:29)! We cannot imagine a member of that first church in Jerusalem ever treating the Lord’s Table with contempt - preferring to go to the beach, or sleeping in late rather than gathering with the saints to celebrate together -and with the Lord. They would, no doubt, have set aside many other things in order to partake of the Holy Meal.

The Lord’s own words in Luke 22:15 ought to be the prototype of how every Christian should consider the communion table: “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you.” The Lord eagerly desires to have intimate communion and fellowship with His people. A good thing to ask is: Do we return the feelings He has for us?

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