1 Corinthians 11:23-26 are Paul’s words to sum up what Communion is all about. They should be read when you take Communion at church. If your church never refers to these verses while doing Communion, odds are you aren’t really doing Communion.
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night 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, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Paul states that he received these instructions from the Lord Himself. Paul isn’t making this up. This isn’t his idea. Communion has divine sanction. Also, as the Old Testament repeatedly shows, when God gives instructions about how to worship Him, He really means it!
Be careful of weird variations on worship-looking things. Do it the way God says or don’t do it at all. Israel tried many times with God’s commands about worship to do it a bit different. Typically people died right after, sometimes even during. This is Paul’s warning that follows this passage. God means what He says.
The bread is the body of Christ broken for you. The cup is not His blood; people say that all the time. The cup is “the new covenant in my blood.” People who say the cup is the literal blood of Jesus are missing Jesus’ point. The cup is the new testament in His blood.
What does that mean?
I’m sure it’s deeper than we take it, but at its simplest it means the shedding of His blood is what brought in a New Covenant. The Old Covenant had blood of animals all over it. As Hebrews says, the New Covenant is a better covenant with a better sacrifice.
There is no New Testament if there is no shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ. The life is in the blood.
Christ is fulfilling many aspects of Old Covenant worship and prophecies. At the same time He’s fulfilling what is behind, He’s inaugurating a New Covenant that stretches forward.
Lots of stuff there! Part of me doesn’t even want to try to explain as I’ll no doubt completely miss the point anyway. Just know that the shedding of the blood of the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world, is a big deal.
Paul says we eat the bread and drink the cup in remembrance of Jesus Christ. It’s not to re-sacrifice Him. It’s not to focus on you. It’s not to impress others or win points with God.
You are remembering what Jesus Christ did for you, for everyone, and even for the redemption of all creation. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on the cross.
Communion is all about remembering Jesus Christ.
The eating and drinking shows the Lord’s death. It puts it on public display. It’s a physical thing that people can see, representing all that Christ did in the Gospel. If the Gospel is not the main focus of Communion, then you’re not doing Communion.
We are to do this until the Lord returns. He hasn’t yet. So we should keep doing it.
Communion is to be done ideally in fellowship with others. It is proclaiming something. Hard to proclaim things if you’re the only one there. That doesn’t mean that you can’t ever take it alone, I’m sure you can. But I do think it’s meant for the gathering of believers.
Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is. I know people are annoying and your pastor is wrong sometimes and people have germs, get over it. Fellowship with believers and proclaim the Lord’s death til He comes.