Communion, In Light of the Resurrection

Our last supper, or really lunch, together in Istanbul: family and traveling companions say goodbye!

Leading up to Easter, especially Good Friday, we will of course be reminded of Christ’s suffering on the cross for our sin. And the sober consideration of Christ’s suffering is usually the focus of communion services, or the Lord’s Supper, because the inaugural communion took place at Jesus’s last Passover meal with his disciples, only hours before he would be arrested.

The bread and wine, body and blood given for us, Jesus said as he himself served it to his disciples. This must have been perplexing for the disciples to hear Jesus say. I imagine them soberly chewing and hesitating to swallow. Much like us today when we take communion.

But the early church had a different interpretation of events. Communion, or the commemoration of that final meal together before Jesus’s death, took on a different meaning after the resurrection! In Acts, we find early Christians incorporating communion into what they called love feasts, which were essentially communal meals.

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts… Acts 2:46

To read New Testaments accounts, these could sometimes become raucous affairs (see 1 Corinthians 11:17–21). Paul rightly reprimanded the Corinthian church for turning this pure expression of unity and love into a drunken free for all that alienated the poor. But the practice continued among churches until the third century when the symbolic, super-spiritual nature of the bread and wine usurped the physicality of communion which is, at it’s fundamental level, a shared a meal.

In so doing, the church lost something beautiful: because of that body broken, that blood spilled for us, we have our victory, righteousness, freedom, inheritance, and the very likeness of our big brother Jesus:

For those whom he foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,  that He might be the first born among many brothers. Romans 8:29

Rightly understood, in the light of the resurrection morning, communion, the Lord’s Supper, should look more like a celebration. The promises of God, which are Yes and Amen in Christ, abound to us who find our righteousness in him. They are immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. And in his name, is power over the enemy at every turn. He was victorious over death, and in him, so are we. This broken body and spilled blood is the best possible news, if we have the humility to receive it! ~ Joni


Your Turn: Jesus might have demonstrated his sacrifice in another way. Why do you think he used food? Paul said that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus. Why would the gospel appear shameful? ~ Breath on Paper

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