Communion, often called "The Lord's Supper," is a memorial in which Christians identify with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16, 11:20). It's a time for believers to remember the Lord's broken body and His shed blood for all people (Luke 22:19-20).
INSTITUTION OF COMMUNION
Jesus Christ instituted communion on the eve of His death when He ate the Passover meal with His disciples (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25).
MEANING AND SYMBOLISM OF COMMUNION
Bread and wine were once served for the Lord's Supper. (Today many churches, including ours, use crackers and grape juice.) The bread symbolizes Christ's body, which was beaten and broken for us as He died for the sins of humanity. The cup of wine symbolizes His blood, which was shed for us as He paid for our sins (John 10:17-18; Ephesians 1:7; Romans 5:8-9).
ESSENTIALS FOR OBSERVING COMMUNION
Anyone who participates in the Lord's Supper must first be a believer. Jesus commanded His disciples to observe communion (Matthew 26:26); therefore, a person must have placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ for salvation before taking part in communion.
In addition to being believers, we must prepare our hearts to participate in the Lord's Supper. Paul instructed believers not to "eat this bread or drink this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner..." (1 Corinthians 11:27).
Last, we must examine our lives for any unconfessed sin. Paul reminds us, "Let a man examine himself" (1 Corinthians 11:28) to avoid bringing judgment upon ourselves. As we become right with God through confessing our sins (1 John 1:9), we may then participate in the Lord's Supper in a worthy manner.
PAST SIGNIFICANCE OF COMMUNION
Communion is a time to look back, remembering the Lord's death on the cross. His death was more than just an atoning death – it was a substitutional death. He died in our place so that we might live. He took our sins upon Himself so that we could receive His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
PRESENT SIGNIFICANCE OF COMMUNION
Communion is a time to look within, considering our lives in light of our profession of faith. As we enter into a time of communion with the Lord, we are to thank Him for our salvation and the privilege of being His children.
FUTURE SIGNIFICANCE OF COMMUNION
Communion is a time to look ahead toward the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Paul said we're to "Proclaim the Lord's death till He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26). The Lord's Supper foreshadows the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19).
Today, we stand between the two most important events in human history: the First and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. When we observe The Lord's Supper as Christians, we become connected to both.