There is a mystical bond between followers of Jesus Christ. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. This union is beautifully seen in communion (the Lord’s Supper). I love eating the Lord’s supper. It is a symbol of so many things: Christ’s death and resurrection, the unity of the people of God, the feast that Christ’s followers will one day enjoy in the new heavens and new earth.
Communion consists in eating the bread and drinking the cup. It was instituted by Jesus on the night before he went to the cross (read the story from the Injil). Today I was reminded of the way this practice unites followers of Christ into one body. Paul wrote, “16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).
A few years ago my friend Ryan wrote some helpful clarifications regarding the Lord’s supper. Perhaps you will find them helpful too.
The Lord’s Supper is both backward and forward-looking
This ordinance is a remembrance and proclamation of Christ’s sacrifice for sins, and thus calls for a certain sobriety and gravity. It is an opportunity to reflect upon the cross and reorient our lives upon that all-important saving event (1 Cor. 11:23-25). But the ordinance also prefigures the marriage supper of the Lamb (11:26; Luke 22:14-18) and serves as a means of sanctification to help believers in Christ persevere in faith and love until His return. Christ did not stay on the cross or in the tomb. He is a living Savior who has promised to come back for us and dine with us in the consummated Kingdom (Matt. 8:11). Communion is a New Covenant celebration and a heavenly anticipation, and this ought to be reflected by an appropriate joy!
The Lord’s Supper is both vertically and horizontally oriented
The eating of the bread and drinking of the cup is clearly to be done in remembrance of Christ to the glory of God. Thus it is primarily God-ward in its orientation. Yet the ordinance is to be observed by a community of believers together, thus it has strong horizontal dimensions. Paul chastises the Corinthians for not considering one another in love as they gathered at table (1 Cor. 11:20-22). By implication, the believer’s self-examination should take into account both his God-ward and man-ward relationships. There is a discipline connected with the Lord’s Supper for those who eat and drink in an “unworthy manner” (1 Cor. 11:27). This doesn’t mean that a believer can somehow achieve to a standard that makes him morally “worthy” of communion with Christ. We come to the table, as to the cross, not to give, but to receive. However there is a disposition that is fitting for any who would partake of the Lord’s Supper which includes an attitude of weighty reflection upon the body and blood of Christ and a genuine love for and sense of unity with other brothers and sisters in His family.