Greg Denham on Why the Context of Communion Matters

Communion has been called “The Grand Central Station of the Christian Faith”.  It’s commonly known as “the Lord’s Supper” or “Eucharist”. It is when unleavened matzah bread striped and pierced symbolic of the Lord’s sinless body is broken and eaten – and a cup is received symbolic as Jesus said of “My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matt. 26:28)  

In church history it has been identified both as an ordinance that Jesus called to be repeated on an ongoing basis (i.e. “do this in remembrance of Me” Luke 22:19), as well as a sacrament which carries the idea of a special blessing, sanctification and proclamation of the Lord’s return!

But context of communion matters! Context is essential to provide clarity to this “Grand Central Station of the Christian Faith” especially because communion is the central act of worship in the church. But it just so happens that the context of communion is more often what is missing.

When Jesus for example said, “Do this in remembrance of me …” What is the “this” in context? At the time the disciples were having a ceremonial meal in the evening of the beginning of Passover on the Biblical Calendar of Nisan 14. The meal was a kind of reenactment of the Passover story that commemorated when the children of Israel were delivered out of enslavement in Egypt. The story of when God’s judgment passed over homes in Egypt marked by lambs blood. But certainly the “this” was not merely an ambiguous “last supper” prior to the crucifixion as it is often referred to.

Earlier Jesus had said “with fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer …” Why the “fervent desire” that speaks of intense passion of body, soul and mind in the moment telling that Jesus is totally present.  It would be in this context of a Passover Seder that Jesus would reveal the greatest revelation. He would break bread but not any ordinary bread. The Passover and Exodus is being remembered. The bread is unleavened. It is known as the “bread of affliction”. It has to be striped and pierced and holding it would remind you of the sobering cost of the price of redemption and new beginning. It is in this context that Jesus says, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:20 identifies that then Jesus took a third cup in the Passover meal known as the “Cup of Redemption or deliverance” (that aligns with Paul’s description “He took the cup after supper”). The third Cup was filled with red color of the fruit of the vine that represented the Passover lamb. But in this context Jesus identified Himself as the ultimate Lamb of God sacrificed for our redemption saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”

Jesus then said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:25)” It was another way of saying that at His second coming when He would sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem to establish the Kingdom of God on planet earth: that the “Jesus and Passover connection” would continue. That God’s divine redemption plan would again be celebrated but this time in it’s completion!

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Greg Denham