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FIRST STEPS (11)
New Hope - Communion
The widow of a man who died suddenly of a heart attack felt that because her two children were so young it would be best if they did not attend the funeral. The idea of seeing their father's coffin being lowered into the ground, she thought, would be too much for them to cope with at such a tender age. The seeds of fear, however, had been planted into the lives of the children. Feelings of dread came over them each time they passed the cemetery.
One day the widow visited her husband's grave with a friend, and invited the children to go with them. The younger child accompanied them to the graveside, but the older one was still too afraid to go. The young child was proud of her father when she saw the words on his tombstone, "A kind and gentle man."
The friend of the widow made, what seemed, a strange suggestion. "Let's have a picnic here by the graveside one day!" she said. "It is a mistake to imagine that this is only a place to think about death," she insisted. "This is also a place to rejoice in life, and to find new strength to live our own lives," she said.
This simple act of sharing a meal around the graveside of their father convinced both children that there was nothing to fear about the death of their father. In fact they used the occasion to share many precious memories of their father.
The idea of having a meal by the side of a grave might indeed seem strange, yet that is similar to what Jesus told us to do. Christians regularly remember how Jesus died in their place, by partaking of a simple meal of bread and wine. We call this time of remembrance, 'communion.'
In this study we will look at what the Bible teaches about the importance of observing Communion.
Read Matthew 26:26-28.
What did Jesus say and do in verse 26?
What did He say and do in verses 27&28?
Turn to John 6:47-63
What did Jesus say in verses 51&53?
What did the Jews say about this in verse 52?
What did some of the disciples say about this in verse 60?
What was their response in verse 66?
When Jesus said that His followers were to eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have spiritual life He was speaking figuratively. On other occasions He said, "I am the door," "I am the vine," etc. It is quite obvious that He was speaking figuratively. He did not expect His hearers to believe that He was a literal door, or a literal vine.
Both the Jews and the offended disciples made the mistake of interpreting the words of Jesus literally. It is important that we do not make the same mistake when we take communion, thinking that the bread we eat is really the flesh of Jesus, and the wine we drink is really His blood. They are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus.
What did Jesus say in verse 63?
Whenever we celebrate communion we are expressing our faith in Jesus, Who gave His life for us. As bread nourishes the body so Jesus gives strength to our lives. By faith we partake afresh of His life as we eat the bread at communion. His blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins, and we demonstrate our faith in His forgiveness and cleansing as we drink from the communion cup.
Write the following verses in your own words: Verse 54
There are several different terms used in the New Testament to describe communion. What are the terms used in the following verses?
The bread symbolizes the body of Christ that was broken for us. Yet, we are now the body of Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ, though broken into many pieces and scattered throughout the world, is nevertheless still one body. We are reminded at communion that we are joined with all believers of every race and from all ages. (See 1 Corinthians 10:17.)
1 Corinthians 10:16 (NKJV)
The Greek word translated as 'communion' is koinonia. It means to hold something in common with others. At communion we partake together in the benefits of the life and death of Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:21
The heathens at Corinth ate together at the table of demons. They were idol-worshippers. In contrast to this, Christians partook of the Lord's table as those who were in covenant with Him.
1 Corinthians 11:20
Since communion was instituted by the Lord it is called "the Lord's Supper." He invites us to celebrate this supper in remembrance of Him regularly, until He returns.
Read 1 Corinthians 11:26-34. What does Paul say in verse 26?
According to verse 27 what do we do if we partake of communion in an unworthy manner?
To eat and drink in an unworthy manner is not to partake with a sense of unworthiness. That is more of a condition than a prohibition! No one is worthy to partake of Christ, but His grace has made us worthy. To eat and drink in an unworthy manner is to participate in the communion whilst in a state of deliberate, willful sin. It is to be in a state of rebellion against God, disobedience towards His Word, or unforgiveness towards another believer.
What are we instructed to do in the first part of verse 28?
Communion is a time for
. We do not need to worry about an unknown sin we might not have repented of. It is the Holy Spirit's work to convict us of any sin in our lives.
After self-examination, what are we exhorted to do in the second part of verse 28?
Congratulations, you have completed your
in following Jesus. This is by no means the end of learning and growing as a disciple. In fact it’s just the beginning.
Now it’s up to you to take your
in your journey as a fully devoted follower of Christ. God has called, and empowered you to be an overcomer and a world changer.
Discuss with your mentor or pastor about your
– the adventure is just beginning.
May the Lord bless you abundantly, amen.
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