Why Practice the Lord's Supper?
On the first Sunday every month, the entire Woodside Family celebrates a meal together. But it’s not the kind of meal that most of us think about when we’re hungry. There are no juicy burgers or greasy French fries, no fresh veggies, or chocolate chip cookies. We address a different sort of hunger. Instead, we partake of a family meal that serves a group of people who aren’t satisfied by just our favorite food options.
Each first Sunday, believers are invited to the table of communion for a meal traditionally known as the Lord’s Supper. It’s a family moment of reflection and celebration. Not because the taste is so rich and fulfilling, but because of the significance of the One who provided the moment for us.
In our moment of reflection, we consider anew the pain and suffering that Jesus experienced on the cross to pay the penalty that our sin deserved. We could not make this payment because of our sin (Romans 3:23). But Jesus, in His perfection, could! And this is the reason we celebrate when we come to the Lord’s Supper. It is here we are reminded of what Jesus accomplished in our place upon the cross — forgiveness, restoration, and redemption!
What Do We Do?
Through the use of familiar elements, bread and juice, we enjoy a unifying moment with Jesus. He initiated this practice for His followers. It’s detailed in the Gospel of Luke,
“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And likewise, the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’” (Luke 22:19–20)
While the elements may be common, the theological significance of what Jesus invites His followers to experience is anything but commonplace. It has deep roots that point back to the Old Testament.
Because Jesus understood the historical significance of the Passover, He wanted to help His disciples (and all who follow in their steps) connect history with the present and the future. Again, Luke offers us the details,
“And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:15–16)
Jesus had been preparing for this special meal before He ever gathered His disciples in the upper room. He sought to set the stage for a sovereign shift of understanding that was to follow.
When He uttered the words, “This is my body, which is for you,” Jesus was helping believers see clearly the imagery of the sacrifice. And when God’s people gather around the table of communion, we join with other believers past, present, and future in the celebration of what Jesus has accomplished on the cross on our behalf — and what He will ultimately do for us in the consummation of His Kingdom.
Who Is It For?
Jesus’ meal is for everyone who belongs to Him through faith. It’s a meal for men, women, and children who understand what Jesus accomplished for them on the cross. It’s for those who have repented of sin and turned to God in faith.
Reformer John Calvin describes the believers’ participation in communion as “spiritual eating.” Because, in faith, we enjoy the body and blood of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In his book, A Meal with Jesus, author Tim Chester summarizes the experience,
“We are not observers around the communion table. We’re participants. We do something. We ingest something…through the communion meal, salvation becomes a subjective reality for us afresh.”
As people who have sinned and betrayed God, the communion table is the opportunity for believers to see, taste, and experience the grace of God. As we come to the table and partake of the bread and the cup, we are reminded of the willing sacrifice of Jesus. Every time we come to the table, we make a public declaration of Christ’s death, affirming our oneness with Him. By experiencing this meal with our church family, we are also affirming our oneness with each other in the body of Christ.
So, when the Woodside family gathers together to share a meal, let’s remember that it is more than just a meal — it truly is for the nourishment of our souls.