What is the Lord’s Supper?
Is it a funeral? Is it a celebration? Is it a memorial?
Paul, in 1 Corinthians, had to remind the church of what the Lord’s Supper really was all about. They had become divisive and sinful, and needed a reminder. Paul lays out 3 things in the book of 1 Corinthians that show us what the Lord’s Supper actually is.
1. The Lord’s Supper is a Fellowship (1 Corinthians 10:16) Paul, in this passage, is addressing a problem with idolatry. He is trying to teach the church that they “cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons…” (1 Corinthians 10:21). He teaches this point by showing them that the Lord’s Supper is a “sharing” or a “communion” and therefore they can’t “share” or “commune” with demons by eating idolatrous meals. The Greek word used here for “sharing” or “communion” is the same word for “fellowship.”
When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are sharing/communing/fellowshipping in the blood and body of Christ with our Christian brothers and sisters. It is a fellowship that only we, as Christians, have together. Fellowship has been defined by some as a relationship that Christians share with each other and with God. Our taking of the Lord’s Supper every week should be an acknowledgment of the fellowship that we share with each other as Christians, that we also share with God, all because of the sacrifice of Jesus. The Lord’s Supper is a fellowship.
2. The Lord’s Supper is a Remembrance (1 Corinthians 11:23-25) Paul, in this passage, is highlighting what Jesus taught about the Lord’s Supper to address their division problem. He says, “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; 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.’ 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.’”
Paul highlights that the Lord’s Supper is a time to remember the person of Jesus. It’s similar to a memorial service for someone after they die. We should be coming together and partaking of the emblems to remember the person of Jesus, the life he lived, the example he left, the things he taught, etc. The Lord’s Supper is a remembrance.
3. The Lord’s Supper is a Proclamation (1 Corinthians 11:26) Paul, in this verse, is finishing his thoughts on the Lord’s Supper. He says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” To proclaim something literally means to announce something publicly. It shares the idea of preaching. We don’t often think of the Lord’s Supper as a proclamation, but that’s what Paul calls it. The Lord’s Supper is when we partake and “proclaim” the story of Jesus’ death to all those who see. We should partake of the Lord’s Supper in a way that teaches non-Christians about the death of Jesus and what came from it. It is a “proclamation” or a “preaching” of Christ’s death to the world. When thinking about the Lord’s Supper. We often just view it as a funeral or a memorial service. However, Paul describes it as more than that. The Lord’s Supper is…
- A showing of fellowship with each other and with God
- A remembrance of Jesus
- A proclamation of Jesus’ death
This week, when you take the Lord’s Supper, try to focus on these 3 aspects.