Daily Devotional for Monday January 26, 2009
(1 Corinthians 11:23-34)
Communion. The other night on my TV program, I dealt with the whole issue of communion. Communion is that wonderful act of remembering the sacrifice Jesus made as He literally gave His life for the sins of all mankind. I was actually shocked in looking through my Devotional archives to realize in nearly 10 years, this was one issue I had never centered a Devotional around. I have talked about communion many times over the years, but never did a complete Devotional just on communion. Shame on me! Especially with all the confusion and poor teaching about this wonderful time when a follower of Jesus Christ fulfills the command the Lord gave to His followers to remember Him by partaking of the bread and wine, re-enacting that moment He shared with His disciples in the Upper Room during the Last Supper.
When we're dealing with anything, our final authority in all matters is the Bible. The primary scripture that deals with communion is found in Paul's first letter to the Church of Corinth, in the 11th chapter. This passage refers back to the words of Jesus on the night of the Last Supper with His disciples. On that night, our Lord broke the bread and said, "This is my body which is broken for you. This do in remembrance of Me." After dinner was over, Jesus took the cup and told His disciples, " This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." You see, Jesus knew what was about to happen. Jesus knew that in just a few hours He would be going to the cross to shed His precious blood and give His life as the one-time, perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.
What Jesus did that night was give all of those who would follow Him a way of remembering His finished work on the cross. You know we're coming upon the Easter season. It's that time of year Believers worldwide will reflect on the great sacrifice Christ made for us. We remember the Last Supper. We remember that time in the Garden of Gethsemane where he would be betrayed by Judas. We remember his trial before Pontius Pilate. We remember how our Lord was beaten, scourged, mocked, spat upon, and eventually nailed to the cross where He hung and died. The fact is, we need to remember Christ's sacrifice for us more than just at Easter. That is the wonderful thing about communion. It allows us to take time and reflect, to remember the price Jesus paid for our salvation.
One of the controversies regarding communion is how often a Believer should participate in this act of remembrance. Jesus simply said to do it in remembrance of me, and even used the word "often." The Bible doesn't give us a specific time period, once a day, once a week, or once a month. It really becomes an issue each Believer needs to pray about and let the Holy Spirit guide you. Most churches have communion once a month. I know of some churches who observe communion every week. The Roman Catholic church celebrates communion at every mass. Again, there is no Biblical mandate how often to take communion. My personal belief is that every Believer should take communion at least once a month to never go too many days without remembering the price Christ paid for our salvation.
Another controversial issue surrounding communion is who is supposed to take communion. In most churches, everyone present is invited to take communion. That is WRONG! The Bible is very clear regarding who should and should not take communion. Communion is an act of remembrance for those who placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Communion is not something a nonbeliever should participate in. A nonbeliever has no relationship with Christ, so the observance of communion is a meaningless exercise to that person. The bread and wine that represent the body and blood of Christ have no special significance to a person who has not given their heart and life to the Lord.
I've had the honor of preaching many times over the years when communion was being served. I make it clear that communion is a time for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ to examine themselves, repent of their sins and ask God to forgive them of their sins before they partake of the bread and wine. One of the reasons I love communion is that it is the perfect opportunity to allow people who aren't Believers in Christ to accept the Lord as their Savior by faith. There's no better time to give people an invitation to know Jesus than at the time of communion. After making the decision to accept the Lord, they can then partake of the bread and wine and understand the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for them when He shed His blood and gave His life for their sins, so that they might be able to receive God's gift of everlasting life.
Let me share this with you. You don't have to be in church to take communion. I've taken communion dozen of times in my office. I get a cup with some grape juice to represent Christ's blood. I'll take some bread to represent His body. I sit down with my Bible and read some of those great passages in the Gospels about Christ's crucifixion, and I take communion. Listen, you don't need a pastor or priest to give you Communion. Communion is an act of remembrance for Believers in Jesus Christ. You don't need a pastor or priest to stick a wafer or piece of bread in your mouth. You don't need a pastor or priest to give you a cup of wine or grape juice. You can take communion at home, in your office, anywhere. It's an act of remembrance each follower of Christ was asked by our Lord to do to remember Him!
It is a time for those followers of Jesus Christ to remember the price He paid for our salvation, why we are able to be the recipients of God's gift of everlasting life. Yes, it's a great experience when you are with a body of Believers in a church and you walk up and the pastor gives you the bread and the cup. Yes, it's wonderful to be able to share that experience in a corporate setting with other Believers. But you can take communion anywhere, and you don't need a pastor or priest since this is a time for personal reflection. It's a time of remembrance. That is why you shouldn't go more than 30 days without taking communion since it a reminder of what our faith is all about. Jesus Christ went to the cross, gave His body as a one-time sacrifice and shed His blood for the remission of sins. That is something every Believer should never forget and taking communion often is important.
Now, let me share one last issue that pretty much is only an issue in the Roman Catholic Church. It's the man made tradition of transubstantiation where that church erroneously believes that at the time of communion, the wafer is transformed into the literal Body of Christ and the cup of wine is transformed literally into His blood. So when a Catholic goes to the altar to take communion from the Priest, they believe they are literally partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Again, it is a man made tradition without any Biblical support. The bread or wafer, the wine or juice, are simply SYMBOLS of the body and blood of Christ, not the literal body and blood of Christ!
*Note: To all my Roman Catholic friends. I am VERY aware of the attempts to use certain passages of the Bible to support this man made tradition of the RC Church. So please, don't send me links and cut&paste postings on why this belief is supported by Scripture, since it is not.
I love you and care about you so much. Communion is an act of remembrance every Believer should do on a regular basis. It is an act only Believers are to participate in. Not children. Not the unsaved person you brought to church. Believers! Communion is an act of remembrance. How can a nonbeliever remember something he or she doesn't believe in? Unfortunately most pastors absolutely miss this great opportunity to invite people to come to know Jesus before offering communion. There is no better opportunity in the world to invite someone to know Christ than at the time you are extending an invitation to communion. It gives you the perfect opportunity to explain WHY a person needs Jesus.
I pray today that you will not ever let more than 30 days pass without taking communion. I believe it is a very important part of our faith and spiritual journey. It is the foundation of what our faith is all about. I don't care if you have been saved 10 minutes or 80 years, all followers of Christ need to reflect and remember what our Lord did for us. Even more important, Christ TOLD US to do this "oft" in remembrance of Him. For the Christian, communion is a very holy, somber, special time of reflection both on our life and the sacrifice our Lord made for us. May you be strengthened and challenged each time you partake of the bread and wine, remembering that Jesus gave His very life for us, so how can we do anything less for Him?
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller