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The Last Supper and the First Communion

(Mark 14:12-25)

Lesson 9 -- second quarter 1998
April 26, 1998

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1998, Christian Light Publications

Communion. A somber ceremony filled with dignity and gravity.

Communion. A scary time? We just as well admit that the answer is "Yes!" for many of us. Or perhaps the frightening part isn't the actual Communion service so much as it is the preparatory services that precede it. Whatever the case, I suspect that a significant percentage of conservative Mennonites approach Communion with a sense of trepidation and reserve, perhaps outright fear and discomfort.

I do not propose to analyze the reasons for these disquieted feelings. I do want to say that I am convinced that the Lord would have us free from a spirit of fear and subsequent bondage. I am positive that the Lord wishes Communion to be a time of sobriety and reflection, yes, but also of rejoicing, exultation and victory. In the interest of promoting this, I call your attention to portions of 1 Corinthians 11.

"This is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me" (24). Communion reminds us of the Lord and the agony He went through for us. And in remembering we should renew our commitment to suffer for Him if this were ever required of us. In a more symbolic way, partaking of this emblem should remind us that we are now the body of Christ. Individually and corporately we now have the mission of living the life of the Lord on this planet. Therefore, this also speaks of the unity of the church as illustrated in passages like 1 Corinthians 12.

"This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me" (25). Communion reminds us of the Lord and the blood He shed for our redemption. One of the concepts to remember in this part of the service is that blood is life. By drinking the fruit of the vine we in a sense recognize that without His blood we cannot live. (Make no mistake here, though: we do not need to drink that juice to have life.) We should also remember that it is the blood of Jesus and not our own efforts that cleanses us from our sins. Another truth to remember in this part of the service should be that every single one of us requires the blood just as much as anyone else. Thus, pride, arrogance and comparisons should find no harbor among us.

"For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come" (26). This, and rightly so, surely is one of the major factors for the sobriety and solemnity of the Communion service. This ordinance reminds us of the most awful event in human history. An event whose impact remains an absolute necessity in the lives of the entire human race, and will remain thus until the Lord returns in final, unending triumph to drink again the fruit of the vine.

"Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord" (27). This verse, along with verses 29 and 30, offer at least a partial explanation for the fear and discomfort that many feel leading up to Communion. The sentence on partaking unworthily staggers the heart and shakes the confidence. Who is worthy?! I find comfort in realizing that the issue here is not so much unworthiness of the individual as the unworthiness of the manner of participation. Make sure that the Lord is your worthiness. And make sure that your disposition and attitude toward the ordinance and during your participation matches the solemnity and remembrance urged upon us. And then partake with freedom, peace and joy!

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