The night before Jesus was to endure suffering and humiliation for all of mankind, He sat down with His disciples to share in the Passover (Pesach). This is one of three major holidays in Jewish customs. The Passover is to remember what God did for the children of Israel when He brought them out of Egypt. Its purpose is to remind the Israelites of the final plague when the angel of death passed over their firstborn and cemented their release from captivity from the Pharaoh (see Exodus 12).
During Passover, Jesus took a loaf of bread and gave thanks to God. When He broke the bread, Jesus said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Then He took a cup of wine and said “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people — an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you” (Luke 22:19-20). After they finished eating, they sang a hymn and then went out into the night to the Mount of Olives. There Jesus was betrayed, and the following day He was crucified.
Paul reviews this event in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29, but Paul adds, “For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again. So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.”
While we no longer celebrate Passover, following Christ’s example and command, we take communion. Every Sunday we eat a small piece of bread and drink a small cup of juice. The bread represents Jesus’ broken body and the wine or juice represents the blood He spilled. We participate in communion to remind us of what Jesus did for us.
But it’s so much more than that.
During the traditional Passover, a lamb sacrifice was required. Jesus was the last lamb required for our sins. The New Covenant replaced the Old Covenant when Christ, the Passover Lamb was sacrificed (see 1 Corinthians 5:7, Hebrews 8:8-13).
Communion is a celebration of God’s gift to us. Communion is an act of worship that requires our entire selves:
We see the bread and juice.
We feel the bread’s delicate texture, the cool of the juice.
We smell it as it’s coming to our lips.
We can hear the bread as it crunches in our mouths.
We taste the elements on our tongues.
All five of our senses are used to bring the most amazing gift God has given us into a context we can understand. Communion cements the reality God wants for us in a way that even a child can understand and appreciate.
I think this is why God chose this route to remind us, instead of instructing His disciples to build something from a strong material. By using all of our senses to experience communion we are given a physical reminder of a spiritual truth.
As we prepare to gather together again this Sunday, October 22, let’s approach communion with a new set of eyes. Use these songs we’ll be singing as a further reminder of God’s gift of His Son and to prepare your heart for the message.