What is the Holy Communion?
Jesus established the observance of Holy Communion before His death on the cross. Like baptism and footwashing, it is a sacrament the Lord commanded believers to keep in order to have life in Him.
Jesus held a final supper with His beloved disciples during the Passover feast in Jerusalem. He took a loaf of unleavened bread, broke it and told them to take it and eat, for this was His body. Then the Lord Jesus took a cup filled with juice from the fruit of the vine and commanded them to drink, for it was His blood (Mt 26:17-30).
The Holy Communion (also called the Lord’s Supper) is a means for Jesus’ followers to remember His death until He comes again (1 Cor 11:24-26). Through the Holy Communion, the Lord also provided a way for us to remain spiritually connected with Him.
What is the significance of the Holy Communion?
i. The love of Christ
To partake of the Holy Communion is to taste the extent of Jesus’ sacrifice. It is to realize the full dimensions of His love:
As we eat the bread, we remember the body that was broken by nails, His splintered flesh. As we drink of the cup, we remember the blood that poured from His wounds. We not only remember His suffering. We proclaim the eternal life in heaven the Lord Jesus Christ prepared for us through His death and resurrection.
ii. The life of Christ
The spiritual effect of the sacrament is based on the Lord’s own words:
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in Me, and I in him. (Jn 6:53-56)
Isn’t it a profound, wonderful mystery that Jesus Christ would give us His flesh and blood to eat and drink? It represents the completeness of His sacrifice—He gave us His all; His life. Through the Holy Communion, we connect with the Lord Jesus Christ not only in the memory of His death, but in the spiritual life He gives to us. By receiving the spiritual flesh and blood, Christ lives in us and we in Him. Only with the life of Christ in us can we have eternal life and resurrect on the last day. Therefore, all believers of Christ must partake of the Holy Communion.
How should the Holy Communion be conducted?
Since the Lord commands us to partake of the Holy Communion according to His example, we use the same elements that He used: unleavened bread and drink made from the fruit of the vine.
The Passover meal did not contain any leaven (Lev 23:4-9); therefore, the bread should not contain any yeast, nor should the drink undergo any fermentation. Thus, unleavened bread and grape juice are used in Holy Communion. Regardless of the size of the congregation, there is only one bread and one cup to signify the unity of the members (1 Cor 10:17).
In the same manner as our Lord, we give thanks to God for Christ’s sacrifice and salvation. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the minister offers a consecrating prayer. We can then break the one loaf of unleavened bread and give it to the congregation. Then the grape juice is consecrated through prayer and offered to the congregation.
For the Holy Communion, the participants should be gathered together in one place. These instructions are from God’s commands to the Israelites concerning Passover, a festival remembering the salvation of God through the blood of the Lamb (Ex 12:10, 46).
Only those who are baptized may receive the Holy Communion, for it is a spiritual fellowship between the Lord and His church. If someone has not been baptized in accordance with the Bible, he should not participate in the sacrament because his sins have not been washed away, and he does not yet belong to Christ.
It is important to take the Holy Communion seriously and solemnly–knowing that we are partaking of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. When the Jews observed the Passover, they had to remove all leaven from their houses. In the same manner, we should repent of our sins when we partake of the Holy Communion to discern the Lord’s body (1 Cor 11:27-29). Before the Communion, we need to examine ourselves, remove our grudges against anyone, ask the Lord to forgive our sins, and determine to live by Christ’s perfect example.
How can I have communion with Jesus Christ?
The Lord Jesus referred to the blood in the Holy Communion as the “blood of the new covenant” (Mt 26:28). A covenant is a binding agreement between two or more parties, and this is God’s covenant with us: by the blood of Christ, given to us on the cross, we are now God’s children.
As His children, we need to put our full trust in God. We must lead lives “fully pleasing [to] Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:10). That means keeping our lives free of the “yeast” of sin, as pure as Holy Communion (1 Cor 5:7). By living a Christ-like life, we participate in the divine covenant.
Jesus said, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (Jn 6:56). Every day you can live in Christ, and let Him live in you. How? By feeding on His word and being filled with His Spirit. Through daily Bible reading and prayer, you learn to listen to God and talk with God. You are strengthened by His Spirit. As you grow closer to the Lord, you will grow in His likeness in love, holiness, and humility. Ultimately, it is no longer you who live, but Christ lives in you (Gal 2:20).
Finally, you can commune in Christ with other believers. Holy Communion brings believers together as one body, united in spirit. As we remember the Lord’s death together, we learn to consider the good of others over our own interests and serve one another with love. We join together regularly in worship and fellowship—to strengthen each other in our walk of faith, and to gain some much-needed rest from the burdens of this world.