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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Do You See the Lord during Communion?

1 Corinthians 11:23-30 (ESV)
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
  27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

The Apostle Paul was very serious about the Lord's Supper or Communion. He understood the presence of Christ in the elements which were eaten. He knew that it was much more than a ritual that churches performed as part of their responsibility. He saw it as vital to their faith and he saw the disregard for the preparation of the Lord's presence as blasphemy. Let's make sure we grasp the Lord's Supper.

There can be no denial that Jesus is present in the elements. This does not mean that the bread becomes flesh nor that the wine becomes blood. This is totally unnecessary for His presence. The Jewish people believed the blessing said before a meal ensured the presence of God. There is every reason we should believe that Jesus is not present in this meal which is served in "remembrance of Him."

The knowledge of His presence in this meal is much more than a perfunctory response to the act of taking the meal. He is actually present. Therefore, there are dire consequences for those who have unprepared hearts when taking the meal. It is seen as disloyal as mocking a king in his presence. The person doing so is in danger of losing his head. It is made worse by failing to acknowledge Him as king. Thus, the danger of punishment is as real as the presence of the Lord in the meal.

This presence we have in the meal must suffice until He returns and we no longer need to take the meal together. We proclaim His death until we see Him face-to-face. Then, we will proclaim His present presence. We remember what He has done until we see Him. Of course, all that He has done on the cross will mean so much more when we see His Coming. We will have remembered so that this Coming, which should be anticipated each day, will be more glorious.

These elements represent a real death and the real spilling of blood by our Lord. They tell the gospel story each time we take them. They point us to our own salvation. They renew our faith. Thus, they prepare us for the life we have with Him until we have the life with Him at His Coming.

My fear that is many people fail to "see" the Lord as they take communion. They treat it as any task they need to accomplish without realizing the special place it is intended to have. I say this as one whose life is changed by the Lord's Supper.


Anonymous said...

Ps Prentis’ question of whether one is seeing the presence of the Lord in the Communion.

Depending on what was meant, there would be different answers! The question could be (1) Do you see the Lord in the Communion? (2) Do you see the presence of the Lord in Communion? The two are NOT the same! The first question asks if in the symbolism, the supper symbolism, whether or NOT, one see the Lord in it. The answer from any believer is quite obviously a yes. Well, the Eucharist Prayer, which can be modelled after the 1 Cor 11 text, is straightforward enough to be understood by any believer – Jesus is in the Eucharist elements, the bread and wine.

In my younger days, I was a high-flyer. I go places, to help set up branch factories in countries. Then, young both in age and in the faith, but nevertheless, fervent, I would find myself on Sundays, in these foreign countries, going to a local church for services. Today, I can still remember going to a Thai (Thailand) church service. The church was beautiful, complete with stained glasses, and the service was in Thai (I understood NOT, and still understand no Thai! When the congregation worshipped in Thai, I just worshipped in tongue!). What caught my eye, relevant to the topic, was how the Communion Table was laid. The Eucharist elements and all, was covered with a colourful cloth, nicely contoured/shaped to look like a person lying on the Table. I could literally make where the head was, with the “face”, facing up! Now, how can anyone miss that Jesus was symbolised in the Eucharist elements!

For the second question, the answers may be more varied; some may say “no”; some, “yes”; and some, “sometimes, no, sometimes, yes”! Ps Prentis used “see”; of course, it could refer to “sense” or “feel”, like do you sense the presence of the Lord or feel His presence when you take communion. From that angle, you would get those answers. But of course, is the Lord at the Holy Communion, is the real question, independent of men’s sensing or feeling. The answer, I believe, is straightforward.

When it was the Lord who instituted it, and asked that we do it, the Holy Communion, in remembrance of Him, it obviously is that Lord is present, in Spirit. His Spirit is right there, when the Eucharist Prayer was said, like, “This is MY Body broken for you ….”. It is regardless of us sensing or feeling Him or NOT. What if it is a terrible, terrible local church; all the bad things they do there (suppose there is such a church; there probably are!), and a holy communion is held, is the Lord by His Spirit present? My belief is that if there is even a single soul whose heart is right in the coming into the Communion, the Lord, by His Spirit, will be present, even for this singular soul. And more importantly, when He is present, the demand of the holiness of His presence MAY break out against those who are vile and approaching the Table inappropriately.

Now, having understood that the Lord is in the Communion, and His presence is there; be warned that we should NOT approach the Communion carelessly.


Anonymous said...

Cont. from above

To me, the entire symbolism presented by Jesus, on the night before His crucifixion, comprised 2 symbolisms, the feet-washing symbolism and the supper symbolism, but the message of Jesus for the hour was one, composite message. In other words, the feet-washing and the supper were together (read John 13 carefully; meal was served; Jesus got up from the meal). I know a lot of things can be said from the feet-washing symbolism, but one pertinent and powerful understanding that can cause people to sit and pay attention, instead of just remembering the Lord died for them, is that one of the things the feet-washing symbolised is the Lord coming down to forgive the sins of us, committed as we journey through life. Jesus told Peter if he wouldn't let Jesus wash His feet, he, Peter, would have NO part with Him! The next time you come to Holy Communion, understand this, subscribe to 1 John 1:9, and expect God to wash your feet.

I don't know how the Eucharist Prayer is like, for other churches, but I am from the Anglican (Charistmatic) segment of the brotherhood; we ask God to forgive us of our sins, before we come to His Holy Table.

Don't you want a part with Jesus? Don't you want your feet washed?
Don't you see Him there, He is there.

Anthony Chia, high-expressions