Sunday, 5 April 2015

Understanding the Communion Meal. ~Rabqa


Some may wonder what it means to receive Communion. Most Christians recognise this as a holy & sacred time set aside under the leadership of the Church, when believers partake in the bread & the fruit of the vine as a reminder of Jesus' finished work on the cross. This can be celebrated once a week, once a month or even once a year. The bread & the wine or fruit juice as we use, are called the sacrament.

Protestants have two sacraments baptism & communion on the other hand Catholics & the Greek orthodox add this list Confirmation, penance, extreme unction, ordination & matrimony.

When Catholic participate in this meal they call it the Eucharist which means thanksgiving in the Greek. Today we give thanks by saying grace at the dinner table. Catholics believe that the bread becomes the literal body of Christ & the wine the literal blood of Jesus. This teaching is called transubstantiation. They say that in Mass, the same sacrifice that Jesus offered on the cross is offered again. This doctrine says that somehow the bread & the fruit of the vine are miraculously changed into the literal body & blood of Jesus when blessed by the Priest.  

I believe that when Jesus took the bread & the wine & gave them to the disciples & said (Matt26:26-28) Take eat this is my body. then He took the cup & gave thanks & gave it to them saying "Drink from it all of you For this is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for the remission of sins".
He was not speaking literally because He was with them holding the cup & the bread in his hands. Jesus identified the cup as the fruit of the vine in verse 29. Therefore the elements of the supper have not changed.

I think that Christ was representing His body & blood by comparing  them to the bread & the fruit of the vine of communion. He often spoke in metaphors in Jn15:5 He called Himself the vine, & that we are the branches & abide in Him, but He did not mean that He was a piece of the vegetation, What He was saying in fact was that He would prune us & cut away things whic no longer bear the kind of fruit He desires to show. & in Jn 10:9 He said that He was the door but He certainly was not saying that He was going to change Himself into a piece of wood. Here He was saying that He would protect His sheep in the fold from false prophets & from agents of the Antichrist.
Entering the sheepfold through Jesus is a saving action  & provides the sheep with an abundant life & provision.

Another point to consider is that He said do this in remembrance of Me (Lk22:19) We are to celebrate the Lords Supper often. Approach it with faith receiving the life & healing it provides. It is a memorial of His accomplished work. So if He literally became the bread & the wine, then it would no longer be in remembrance.

 in Matt 26:26-28 when Jesus was holding the cup & the bread, stating this was the blood of the new covenant, IF He was turning the elements into His literal body, then He was in His body while holding another body in His hands. Although Christ had the nature of God & man, He was not two separate bodies.

If we believe the bread & cup actually become the body & blood of Christ when partaking in communion we are denying thee things:
1) We deny Christ's finished work on the cross, when He cried it is finished. A sacrifice that needs to be repeated again & again is neither perfect nor complete.
2) We deny the priestly office of Christ. If the communion elements were His literal body & blood, then the elements themselves would become the sacrifice for sins. For anyone besides Christ to offer Our Lords body & blood to God as a sacrifice of sin would be to rob our heavenly High Priest of His glory.
3)We are denying Christ's human nature. If His literal body can be in more then one place at a time, then He did not have a body like our nature.

In Mk 14:22-24  is what we commonly refer to as the last supper. Jesus wanted to eat a final meal with His disciples & be strengthened in their fellowship before facing the agony that was ahead of Him. During the last meal He spoke prophetically, instructing them to partake of His broken body & shed blood by eating & drinking the bread & wine In V24 He made clear that His blood would seal & ratify, or validate, the new covenant they were to have with Almighty God. Today we remember Jesus' shed blood & broken Body through our taking Communion.

Like many others I had received & participated in communion services without truly understanding what I was doing. I knew the bread & the juice represented the body & blood of Jesus. I knew He instructed that we eat & drink of it in remembrance of Him. But there is a much deeper & more glorious meaning of communion.

Holy Communion was never intended to be an empty ritual with little or no meaning to those participating in it. 1st we take the bread: Jesus is the bread of life, He is the Word made flesh (Jn 6:35; 1:14). Our body lets us know when we are hungry, our stomach may growl, we may get cranky or light headed, you may not be aware that our spirit can also get hungry, so as we partake of the bread we take Him as our living Bread, the only source that can truly satisfy our hunger in life. We remember what He has done for us.  We take Him as our living Drink, the only source that can satisfy our thirst. As we drink of the cup it is equivalent of sprinkling blood or shedding blood  of the sacrifice of His body. It is important that we take both the bread & the cup. If people attempt to remove the blood, they are attempting to remove the power of the Gospel.

Communion can & should be a fresh dedication in our lives to the Lord, a reminder of the blood covenant that we have with God because Jesus stood in our place. In His great love for us, He took our sins upon Himself & remembers them no more. His sacrifice on the cross made it possible for us to receive His salvation, mercy, grace & favour.

In the Christian church, believers recognise the historical application of the Passover & the prophetic fulfilment of Christ, who, as God's Lamb, died during Passover (Matt 26:19). As the Jewish Passover reminds the Hebrews of their great day of redemption from Egypt & their future promise of inheriting the promised land, so communion is a reminder of our redemption through Christ's suffering & of our future inheritance with Christ in heaven.

During the 1st Passover, the flesh of a lamb was eaten at the table of the Hebrew family, & the lamb's flesh brought supernatural healing for the journey through the wilderness. The blood on the door stopped the destroying angel from taking the life from the first born. So the body & the blood of the passover lamb brought complete healing & redemption.

The body of Christ, God's final Lamb, brought healing through the wounds & stripes on His body & salvation through His blood on the Cross. Communion is a sign of our belief in Christ's finished work of salvation. 

When you take communion, realise that Jesus has given you His best. Remember that He shed His blood & gave His life for you. Communion is a time to examine your life ask for forgiveness in areas where it is needed. It is also a good time to release your faith & ask God for healing in your physical body, as well as every other area of your life.

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