“For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:28
We practice something that is often called the Lord’s Supper, because it is a practice taken from a meal Jesus shared with his disciples.
Some churches refer to it as the Eucharist, which means to give thanks. Many are fascinated with the idea that as Jesus institutes the last supper, he talks about his own impending death and yet still gives thanks before.
Others call it Communion. This is synonymous with a reconciled relationship and oneness that is a result of the atoning work of the cross.
This whole activity called Communion is Jesus’ gift to us as a worship practice that reflects and re-enacts his atoning work for us. So how should we respond?
Luke 22:19 tells us that Jesus took a piece of bread and said, “This is my body.” Before he gave it to his disciples, he gave thanks. He then took the wine and said, “This is my blood,” and again he gave thanks.
He knew what he was about to endure at the cross, and he bore the penalty for our sins willingly. So when we take Communion, he asks that we do this in remembrance of him.
This points us to a new covenant; it is a call to remember what Christ has done for us and a call to remember our covenantal God and his promises. In his death and resurrection, we are reminded that Jesus Christ is the sacrifice that we look to for the forgiveness of sin and a right relationship with God.
In the development and growth of the early church, the practice of Communion evolved into a series of bizarre church potlucks, even during time of the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul writes to the church at Corinth to admonish them because this act of worship had become a gluttonous feast.
In this text, Paul gives the believers in Corinth directives to follow prior to partaking of Communion. He starts by instructing them to examine themselves. He asks them to consider their sin—and not just past but also current sin.
In light of this, I want to suggest that one of the ways we prepare ourselves for Communion is to reflect and repent. Reflect on all the ways that our attitudes and actions and apathy have positioned us into an ungodly posture. Once we have acknowledged these areas of sin in our lives, we are to move toward repentance by declaring before God our decision to walk away from sin and back to him.
When we participate in Communion, we are invited to remember that our sins have been paid for by the death of Christ. Therefore, we are free to confess those sins in repentance, knowing that God forgives them in full because of what Christ has done.
As you partake of Communion, remember what has been purchased for you at the cross. In Christ, your sins are paid for. In Christ, you have been set free from the slavery of sin. In Christ, you are a new creation and have been given new life (see Romans 6). Remember our God, his character, and his goodness, and give thanks for all he has done.
Martin Luther’s 95 Theses opens with the declaration that Jesus has called for “the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” As a church, we repeatedly observe Communion as an ongoing reminder of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we do this, we are reminded that we get to live in the grace given to us, free from the guilt of sin. Therefore, we are free to confess those sins in repentance knowing that God forgives them based on what Christ has done. We are to leave our sinfulness in this act of worship at that moment of repentance and repeat the oneness with the people of God and repeat our engaging with Jesus in his mission being the people of God in the world in which we live in.
So each time you approach the Communion station, reflect on the sufferings of Jesus on your behalf, repent of your sin that put Jesus on the cross, and remember all that Christ has accomplished for you.