By Nathan Rhea
On our trip out to Oregon a few years ago, I sat next to a young man who was flying back from his brother’s funeral. His name was Jonah. His brother had drunk himself to death. Jonah is a Jehovah’s Witness. We talked quite a bit during the flight. I was trying to think about how I could tell him some truth. I remembered my father in law told me about an old lady who started with the Lord’s Supper with the Jehovah Witnesses. I knew from a previous conversation with a Jehovah Witness that only those of the 144,000 (Revelation 7 and 14) who remain on the earth eat the Lord’s Supper. The bread and the wine are passed, but no one eats it except if they are one of the 144.000. So I asked him why only the 144.000 eat the Lord’s Supper. He told me about the 144,000, but he had no answer as to why they were the only ones.
The Lord’s Supper is a very important part of our worship. Jesus said, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in yourselves.”
I. Who is it for?
A. It is for all Christians
1. It represents the unity of the body of Christ (The Church) with one another and with Christ.
a. I Corinthians 10:15-17, I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
b. If we do not partake of the communion we are not a part of the body.
2. Christ is our Passover. If we don’t partake of what represents his body and his blood we can’t be a part of his body.
a. I Corinthians 5:7-8, Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
b. Christ is our Passover. He was crucified during the Passover. He instituted the Lord’s Supper during the Passover meal He ate with his disciples. He is the Lamb of God. The real Passover Lamb. Those who didn’t partake of the Passover in the Old Testament were cut off from Israel.
c. Numbers 9:13, But the man that is clean, and is not on a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, that soul shall be cut off from his people; because he offered not the oblation of Jehovah in its appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.
d. We are cut off from His Body if we do not take part in Communion. That is a dangerous place to be in. It is essential to salvation. It is not for just for the 144,000.
B. It is for those who partake in a worthy manner
1. I Corinthians 11:23-29 For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. For he that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, if he discern not the body.
2. How can I partake in a worthy manner?
a. I must remove the leaven of sin, I Corinthians 5:6. I can’t keep on practicing sin and have the blood of Christ cleanse me of my sin. There was no leaven at the Passover. The Passover was during the week of Unleavened Bread. If you had leaven you were cut off from Israel, Exodus 12:15. We need to confess our sin so that the blood of Jesus will cleanse us, I John 1:8, 9. Confess our sin before we eat the Lord’s Supper so that we can partake in a worthy manner.
b. I must be united with my brother. I can’t partake in a worthy manner if I don’t discern the body. The body Paul is talking about is the church. I can’t judge or discern the physical body of Christ, but I can judge or discern those in the church. If I hate my brother I can’t take the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner. Or if I have sinned against my brother I can’t partake in a worthy manner. Matthew 5:23-24, If therefore thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against the, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
c. It isn’t a matter of being one of the 144,000 or not it is a matter of being right with God and with my brother.
II. What kind of drink and bread do we use?
A. We use unleavened bread because it represents the body of Christ. Christ is without sin. Leaven is a symbol of sin. Jesus used unleavened bread at the Lord’s Supper because it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread, Luke 22:1.
B. We use fruit of the vine, which is grape juice.
1. Matthew, Mark, and Luke use this terminology. John doesn’t mention what was used at the Lord’s Supper.
- Matthew 26:29, But I say unto you, I shall not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom
- Mark 14:25, Verily I say unto you, I shall no more drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
- Luke 22:18, for I say unto you, I shall not drink from henceforth of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
- γενήματος τῆς ἀμπέλου– fruit of the vine
- οἶνος – wine
2. The fruit of the vine represents Jesus blood. Juice is pure and Jesus’ blood is pure. Wine does not represent his blood. Wine has leaven in it. You cannot make wine without yeast. Leaven as we have seen in I Corinthians 5:7 is a symbol of sin.
3. The juice also represents the new covenant. The new covenant is one that we have sin removed. We are cleansed. Not full of the leaven of sin.
4. There was to be no leaven in the house of an Israelite during the Passover, Exodus 12:15.
5. In many churches today. Children are introduced to wine. They get their first taste of alcohol at church. The pastor says, “Drink wine.” The priest says, “Drink wine.” How evil is that?
a. In Jeremiah 35 we have the story of Jeremiah and the Rechabites. God told Jeremiah to bring the Rechabites into the temple and pour cups of wine for them. He did this and said to them “Drink wine.”
b. Jeremiah 35:6, But they said, We will not drink wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall not drink wine, you or your sons, forever.
c. God blessed the Rechabites for saying no, Jeremiah 35:18-19. God knew they would say no. That is why he did it. He used them for an example for his people. They obeyed their father’s command, but the Israelites did not obey their Heavenly Father’s command.
III. How often do we take the Lord’s Supper?
A. When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper he didn’t tell his apostles how often or when. The first day of the week meant nothing to them. They were Jews who kept the Sabbath, the seventh day.
B. We assemble every Sunday
1. Sunday is the day we worship. We are no longer under the Old Law, Hebrews 8:7-13, Hebrews 9:15-16, and Hebrews 10:9. Keeping the Sabbath is a part of the Old Law.
2. We worship on Sunday because it is the day Jesus resurrected.
a. Matthew 28:1-6
b. Mark 16:1-2
c. Why did God pick the first day of the week? Jesus is to have first place in everything, Colossians 1:13-18. The first day of the week is the only day that would fit for honoring Jesus Christ. The bible makes it very clear that the Sabbath day is the last day of the week. Jesus is honored the first day of the week. Jesus met with his apostles on the first day of the week.
- John 20:19
- John 20:26, Eight days later Sunday to a Sunday is eight days if you count the day you are on.
d. The day of Pentecost the day the church started was the first day of the week
- Acts 2:1
- The day of Pentecost was 50 days after the Sabbath during the Passover. Leviticus 23:15 and 16. If I start with Sunday and have 7 Sabbaths and end the day after the seventh Sabbath, I have a total of 50 days. Pentecost means fifty. Jesus was crucified on Friday during the Feast of unleavened bread. The Jews wanted him off the cross because it was the day before the Sabbath. Also this Sabbath was a high day, John 19:31, not only was this a Sabbath Day but it was the Sabbath during the days of unleavened bread. The day they were to count from.
e. Paul met with the church in Troas on the first day of the week.
- Acts 20:6-12
- Paul was in Troas for 7 days. He met with the church on the first day of the week, He was there for every other day of the week, but Sunday is the day they met.
f. We can conclude from I Corinthians 16:1-2, the church at Corinth met on the first day of the week.
C. Every Sunday is how often we take the Lord’s Supper
1. Acts 20:6 and 7, Paul was in Troas for 7 days, but the 1st day of the week is when they met to break bread, to eat the Lord’s Supper. They didn’t do it for “Easter Sunday.” There was no such thing as Easter Sunday in Paul’s time. They didn’t do it because it was Passover week. Passover Week was over. This first day of the week was like all the other first days of the week and the purpose of their meeting was to eat the Lord’s Supper.
2. God told the Israelites to Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. What Sabbath day? What Sabbath Day did God mean? He meant every Sabbath Day. Acts 20:7 says, “the first day of the week.” What first day of the week do you suppose they met to break bread? Every first day of the week. We don’t have a command to break bread every Sunday, but we do have a Holy Spirit inspired example.
3. I Corinthians 11:20-22, Paul rebuked the church at Corinth for not coming together to eat the Lord’s Supper. They were meeting to eat a big meal and forgetting the Lord’s Supper.
4. We have no example for a monthly remembrance or a yearly remembrance, but we do have an example for a weekly remembrance.
IV. What is the purpose of the Lord’s Supper?
A. To remember Jesus
1. I Corinthians 11:23-26
2. We remember Christ with a simple meal. Anyone anywhere in the world can do this. I don’t have to travel to a certain city to a monument to remember Christ. We can remember Christ wherever we are with some grape juice and unleavened bread.
B. For forgiveness of sins
1. Matthew 26:27 and 28
2. The juice is a symbol of the blood of the covenant that was poured out for forgiveness of sins.
3. Hebrews 9:20-25
C. For life
1. John 6:53-56
2. If we don’t eat the Lord’s Supper we have no life. The words Jesus used here and in Matthew 26:28 are very similar. The Lord’s Supper is how we eat his flesh and drink his blood.
The Lord’s Supper is one of the most important things in the Christian life. Without it we have no life. If we don’t take it in a worthy manner we are guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. At the church in Corinth some were weak and sick and a number were asleep (dead). The Lord’s Supper is a serious time of our worship. We do make sure we eat it the way the Lord instructed us