Roots (The Lord’s Supper)

Have you ever had a dinner that was in your honor? Maybe because of a job promotion, returning home from war, a birthday celebration, retirement, or anything else that would cause people to want to come together around a meal to celebrate something you have accomplished.

This is exactly what the Lord’s Supper is, a meal in honor of Jesus Christ and what he has accomplished. It is written that every time we “eat the bread and drink the wine” of the Lord’s Supper we are “proclaiming the Lord’s death until he returns.”

The history of the Lord’s Supper is something I stand in awe of, truly one of the more objective reasons I put my faith in Jesus. The night that Jesus was betrayed and arrested was during a Jewish holiday called Passover. Passover was basically an annual celebratory meal that memorialized what God had done for the Israelites around 1,500 years prior.

When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, just before they were finally freed to leave and begin their journey as a sovereign nation, God gave one final decree to everyone living in Egypt. On a certain night, every household was told they must sacrifice a male lamb without any blemish or defect, and then spread its blood on the doorframe of the house. If this was done, everyone in the house would be saved. If it was not done, the firstborn male of every household would be killed.

The miraculous part of the story that amazes me is that it perfectly foreshadows what would ultimately be accomplished through Jesus Christ. The divine planning is evidence that what Jesus did was not random or circumstantial but deliberate and orchestrated. Below is a breakdown of the foreshadowing.

Sacrifice of the Passover Lamb Sacrifice of Jesus Christ
Male with no defect The only sinless man
Sacrificed so that people could escape the wrath of God Sacrificed so that people could escape the wrath of God
No bone was broken No bone was broken
The sacrifice was eaten “…the one who feeds on me will live.”[1]
Blood was put onto a wooden doorframe Blood was put onto a wooden cross
Must remain inside the house to be saved Must remain in Jesus Christ to be saved[2]

This is why when John the Baptist saw Jesus he yelled out “behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” It was understood that Jesus was sent by God according to a divine plan.

Instituting the Lord’s Supper

The night that Jesus was betrayed and he was eating the Passover with his disciples, Jesus took the meal that was meant to memorialize what God had done and declared it should now be done to memorialize what he would do. Bold move, to say the least…unless that is you confidently know that you are in fact the Son of God.

Jesus, knowing that he himself was the lamb to be sacrificed, only took the bread and the wine as the symbols he wanted his followers to partake of in memory of his sacrifice. He took the bread, broke it, and said “this is my body broken for you.” In the same way, after supper, he took the wine and said “this is the blood of the new covenant, poured out for the forgiveness of sins.” In this way, Jesus took something that had been practiced every year for over a thousand years and brought it home to its original purpose, which is to direct our attention to him.

The earliest Christians, after witnessing the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, honored Jesus’ wishes to meet together and eat the Lord’s Supper in this way to memorialize his sacrifice. It is written that they met daily in people’s homes to “break bread, sharing meals with each other with sincerity and gladness of heart.”[3] This was a central part of their worship of God and their fellowship with one another.

What to do today?

There is an apostolic admonition to “remember those who taught the word of God to you, consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” [4]

My thought is, why change anything at all? Get a bottle of red wine and some bread and implement it into a meal in honor of Jesus’ sacrifice. I firmly believe that this should be a family tradition of every Christian household. It can also easily be implemented into any “Life Group” or small group type of gathering in people’s homes before eating a meal together.

To start the meal, just before a prayer of thanks, someone can break the bread and pour a glass of wine (or grape juice for the kiddos) and recite the Lord’s Supper tradition found in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. After a prayer, the wine and the bread are simply incorporated into the meal as symbols that turn the meal into a memorial supper in honor of Jesus Christ.

Why should believers make the Lord’s Supper a tradition in their family and fellowship groups?

The simple answer is that we follow Jesus and this is what he instituted for us to do and what the apostles exemplified for us to follow. But there is obviously a deeper reason to eat the Lord’s Supper as a meal in the home other than “God said so” and I think it has to do with how people tend to connect with other people.  I can testify to the impact that implementing the Lord’s Supper into a family/fellowship meal has on the atmosphere of the rest of the meal.

There is something about sharing a meal with people that is special and helps form bonds of trust and friendship. Take this social aspect of sharing a meal with people and dedicate the meal to God by implementing the Lord’s Supper and you have a recipe for corporate spiritual growth. Just look at the description that Luke gives of the earliest Christians that broke bread together daily from house to house. He wrote that they were “one in heart and mind” and that they were constantly taking care of each other’s needs.[5] That sounds like healthy spiritual growth to me!

Final thought

Obviously, implementing the Lord’s Supper into your life does not guarantee healthy spiritual growth in a fellowship with other believers, it is just one component that Jesus instituted to help. But I will say that there is a good reason for Jesus to have instituted this type of tradition and we are far better off implementing into our fellowship circles than not.

Final Final thought

I think it is really cool that the God of the universe, our Creator, decided to make the primary “ritual” for his people a family style meal that includes alcohol…just saying.

[1] John 6:57

[2] John 15:1-11

[3] Acts 2:46

[4] Hebrews 13:7-8

[5] Acts 2:42-47, Acts 4:32-37

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