Communion is the tradition of receiving bread and wine observed by billions around the world, known as Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, and the Eucharist. Even though there are denominational differences, Communion is a sacred time for followers of Jesus. In most churches, it is done monthly, usually on 1st Sunday. The Scriptural account of this practice is based on the Last Supper, which is found in all four Gospels, where Jesus Christ shared his final meal with the disciples. The story is found in Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20; and John 13:1-30.
When Jesus said, "Do this in remembrance of me" He instituted the observance of Communion or the Eucharist that we observe today. In communion, we eat a morsel of bread that signifies Christ's broken body, and we drink a sip of wine or grape juice that signifies Christ's shed blood. Both are done by faith.
(19) And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (20) Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.-- Luke 22:19-20
Like baptism, communion is a spiritual symbol, and reminder of what Jesus has done. Communion is not about the ritual or the method or about the bread and wine; it's about the body and blood of Jesus. Neither is it about obligation, although it is what He commanded. It is a celebration of Jesus offering His body on the Cross as our substitute, to take on Himself the just penalty for our sin and redeem us back to the Father. Jesus' flesh becomes the source of life for us and a fresh relationship with God (1 Peter 3:18). It is worship, and it is sacred.
Although the practice is usually done in a church service with other congregants, we can hold our own Holy Communion service at home. This is something that I have been led to do every morning during my prayer time. In fact, the Last Supper was actually done in someone's home (Mark 14:12-17). If you're a believer, you can take communion at home, in your hotel room or just about anywhere.
At the Last Supper, Jesus was the central figure at the table, which shows that the practice of communion is a time of personal fellowship with the Lord Jesus honoring His sacrifice at the Cross, even when done within a group. It is not a meaningless, stiff ritual performed monthly out of tradition. Jesus showed the disciples that the extent of His love in that He was willing to do die to redeem them back to the Father. He was their Deliverer and Redeemer, and what He was about to do would redeem them back to the Father and set them free for all eternity.
The Lord Jesus commanded His disciples and all future followers to remember that He gave His life for our lives, that He was poured out to wash away our sins, by carrying out this fellowship. I don't think that's too much to ask, do you?
The early church, described in the Book of Acts, often met in homes, and they assembled publicly with the other churches in the city when possible.
“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.
They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad
and sincere hearts,” – Acts 2:46
“Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house,
they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news
that Jesus is the Messiah.” – Acts 5:42
In these home-based gatherings, the Believers would participate in what became known as a "love feast". It was a time to worship and pray, and fellowship with one another and share a meal. They would also set aside a time for the observance of communion (also referred to as "breaking of bread"). The breaking of bread or communion was something the church did as a regular part of their worship.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. – Acts 2:4
Unfortunately, there were people attending these gathering who came for the wrong reason. They came for the food; they had no fellowship with the Lord Jesus and no respect for what He did at the Cross.
These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. – Jude 12
Apostle Paul gave clear direction in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29 about how to practice “The Lord’s Supper,” as he calls it, referring to the instruction of Jesus when He instituted the practice of communion to be observed moving forward by His Church (Matthew 26:26-28).
“(23) For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; (24) and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (25) In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” (26) For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. (27) Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. (28) But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. (29) For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” -- 1 Corinthians 11:23-29 NKJV
I want to note that nowhere in the Scriptures does it say that this practice must be performed, administered or distributed by a church leader. Therefore, it is something that all believers shared whenever they gathered as God's people. You are the church, so your home can be your place of fellowship. You can perform communion right where you are.
There is regarding communion a serious misunderstanding of the meaning of self-examination in 1 Corinthians Chapter 11. I noticed that during communion at my church, there were some people who never participated. I asked one sister why, and she said that she had committed sin and was not worthy to participate. She was afraid God would make her sick and possibly kill her. I asked was she saved, and she said yes.
Please understand that if you are a Believer, you are a Child of God, your sins are remitted, past, present and future. Your sin is completely eliminated from God's consciousness. "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17). If your sins and iniquities have been eliminated from God's conscious, then you should remove it from your conscious as well. The enemy's only hope is to make us so sin-conscious that we begin having trouble believing that we're really saved, so he has embedded erroneous teachings among us.
During the communion service, the passage in 1st Corinthians 11:23-34 was read. Her fear was based on verses 27-32.
(27) Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. (28) But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. (29) For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (30) For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. (31) For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. (32) But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
I asked had she ever been taught what this passage really means. She said she had not. I ministered to her on the original meaning, but I guess she could not move past what she had been taught. Without proper understanding, many people believe the meaning of this text is "I am unworthy if I have sin in my life or if I am not spiritually sound, then I should not participate." Rather than focusing on the sacrifice that Jesus made at the Cross, they focus on themselves and any sins they have committed, trying to determine if they spiritually are qualified to take communion.
Some leaders promote this idea based on translations like, "Whoever eats this bread and drinks this cup unworthily," which gives the false impression that Paul is concerned with a participant's unworthiness rather than the manner. This is not what Paul is talking about at all. You must read chapter 11 in its entirety to understand why Paul said what he said.
Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthian church was about them observing the Lord's Supper in way that dishonored Him, and created divisions among them (v. 18). There were those who rushed to get his own supper first, not waiting for others or the poor. So, some people went hungry while another gets full and drunk. It was basically a scene of "the-have and the have-nots, the approved and unapproved" (v. 19).
The haves were feeding themselves until they were completely full, while the poor were left with empty stomachs. They treated their brothers and sisters who didn't have much with contempt. God is not pleased with such behavior. By selfishly eating up everything and leaving nothing for others, they left the poor people feeling unworthy to participate in the celebration. In essence, this is what that dear sister I spoke with was experiencing. She felt she did not fit in the crowd.
One last thing I want to address is, as leaders in the Body of Christ entrusted by God to equip the saints for the work of ministry, and to build up the Body of Christ, it is crucial that we don't mislead them and hurt them. When leaders teach that communion is about sin rather than honoring the Lord for sacrificing His body and shedding His blood on the Cross they are in error. The Lord’s Supper is spiritual nourishment for the soul of every believer.
“(12) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (13) until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, (14) so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (15) Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (16) from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” --Ephesians 4:12-16
When leaders teach that communion is about repenting of sin rather than honoring the Lord for sacrificing of His body and shedding His blood, they are in error. The Lord's Supper is spiritual nourishment for the soul of every believer.