So far in this series, we have explored Holy Communion as an Act of Praise, and a Prayer of Thanksgiving. First, we are invited to this meal. Anyone who loves Jesus and is ready to repent their sins is welcomed. Then, to clearly appreciate what God is doing through this meal, we confess our sins and actively praise Him. Last week, we explored Holy Communion as an Active Remembrance and Offering.
Holy Communion is designed as a wonderful way to remind us of the Truth. We remember that in His infinite mercy, Christ was willing to be broken with us and for us. So we actively remember Christ’s offering to God on our behalves, and in return, we offer ourselves as one in union with Christ’s offering, holding nothing back. Through that union, we can all find healing, wholeness, and renewed strength to serve God and our neighbors.
Today, we’ll explore how Holy Communion is a Spiritual Nourishment where God feeds our souls as we celebrate the Bread of Life given for all.
Almost all of us have had the experience of being the recipient of a carefully prepared meal. Maybe you can recall meals at your grandparent’s house or you parent’ house or somewhere else for a holiday meal. Who can pass up turkey at Thanksgiving?
When I think of a carefully prepared meal, I’m reminded of Matt and I’s first date. He had me over for dinner that He made all by himself. It was salad, deer steaks, and I think French fries – can’t really remember the side. But I remember the salad because it was so thought out. It was full of fresh from the garden, beautiful multi-colored vegetables. It was like a picture perfect salad. And deer steaks, well that pulls at any hunting girl’s heart, so I remember that part too.
I was so impressed with him, that between the beautiful meal and a tour of the farm on a 4-wheeler was all it took. This farm girl was hooked. Thankfully, we have had the chance to have many meals since that time, and since I really don’t like to cook, Matt has cooked a lot of meals since, but I will never forget that special, first one!
There’s another very special meal we should never forget…and that’s Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper. It’s not just a small piece of bread and a cup of juice. It is an actual meal. I know physically it doesn’t fill us up, it does fill us up spiritually. Holy Communion is beyond special because it communicates what is central to our faith. Through it, Christ the host, reveals to us something very important about Himself. He reveals His heart which allows us to know Him better.
There’s a lot of mystery in Holy Communion and I’m going to just start with this question:
Have you ever wondered why Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper to begin with? Why use a meal to say what He was about to do. He could have just said, “I’m going to die for you. I want you to remember what I have done for you, and I will be with you in spirit.” Why did He say of the bread, “Take, eat; this is my body,” and of the cup, “Drink from it, all of you for this is my blood of the covenant.” (Matthew 26:26-28) Was all of this just so we would have something to do just so we would remember Him?
There has been so much speculation over the years as to the meaning of these words and why Jesus would even present this meal. One that catches my attention is Thomas (Aquainas) Aquinas, a 13th century theologian, said that one of the essential reasons behind the Lord’s Supper is the love of…(not food) friendship, and friends want to be together.
Just think about our fellowship meals here at the church. Once a month following worship, we gather in the fellowship room to eat a meal and to fellowship (friendship). That’s the purpose of the room. And it’s not just a few of the people from the church that gather. Each month, it’s most of the church that attends. Why? Maybe some are just after the food, but I believe it’s because friends want to be together. We like to sit around the tables and talk and share a meal together. There’s just something special about it that keep bringing us all back every month!
There’s something special about the presence of loved ones with whom we can share life with. And through the Lord’s Supper, we do remember what Christ did on the cross, but we also are sharing life with our loving God. We are connecting with Him. So all in all, Jesus sets up this meal because He wants to be close to us and wants us to be close to Him. And what better way to do that than around the table.
Friends desire to stay connected with one another. The remarkable popularity of social media is due in part to the fact that human beings are social creatures…and when we are teenagers and young adults that’s when the desire to be social is especially high. But we are all created for friendship. It’s built into our DNA and the love of friendship is a special love.
Teens and young adults, just don’t spend too much time ‘down here’ (staring at your phone) or you’ll miss some pretty amazing friendships in the flesh and blood.
Speaking of which, John 15:13-15, is a perfect example of a flesh and blood friendship.
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.”
In saying this, Jesus reveals a timeless truth about who He is and what He has done. Jesus does not come to us to weigh us down or hold us back. He comes to love us and save us from the things that weigh us down or hold us back. He is here, with us and for us, because He loves us with the love of deep friendship and wants to nourish us in that love.
Out of love, Jesus took on a true human body for our salvation. That’s huge! That’s a deep friendship of love.
And friendship has this unique feature to it that we share life together. You have friends that you talk to on the phone, spend time with throughout the week, and the Lord Jesus, our good God and Friend, promises us the gift of His presence, to be our friend and to share life with us.
To further answer the question of why Jesus used bread and juice to describe what He was about to do, we have to look at some other passages. Beyond the passages describing what He did in the upper room around that table, there are also other passages in the Bible that refer to Communion like John 6.
Here the crowd who Jesus had been preaching to, said show us a sign if you want us to believe in you…although He just did the day before by feeding 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. They say, our ancestors ate manna that Moses gave them, so give us a sign…
Hunger and thirst are a basic parts of human life. If a baby is hungry, the baby cries. It’s the baby’s way of saying, “I’m ready to eat. Feed me.” As every parent learns, newborn babies need to eat every two to three hours and sometimes that is still not enough!
For those of us who can provide for themselves, when we become hungry or thirsty, the natural response is to get something to eat and drink. Without food the hunger continues, and then there is a greater chance of crankiness, even for adults. Just think about the snicker commercials.
Only Jesus really satisfies. Not snickers. Through Holy Communion, God nourishes our souls with what can truly satisfy the hunger and thirst of the human heart.
Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Through this meal of love that He has prepared for us, the Lord invites us to come to Him and believe in Him, and to partake of this Bread of Life.
Look, it all comes down to this, if we want to know who God is, we must look to Jesus. Jesus shows us who God is, and shows us God’s love for us. Jesus says, “I have called you friends.”
That means that not only are we friends of Jesus, but Jesus is our friend too.
And friends naturally desire to share life together with one another. So much that we grieve when we cannot do it anymore either because they have died or they have moved too far away to share the daily joys with.
But Jesus, our friend, promises to meet us in this meal of thanksgiving that is called the Lord’s Supper, so appropriately named since He’s the host who serves us a feast of love, that He has prepared. He meets us here EVERY TIME!
He does all of this so we can receive, here at the altar, the gift of Himself. So we can receive His love and be strengthened in our souls by the Bread of Life.
And this Christian meal does something else…it unites us, the body.
This meal is not simply one’s personal communion or fellowship with Christ. The communion of this sacrament is also communion with others. That’s why we do it together.
Here the human desire and craving for genuine fellowship with not only God, but others is met. We get to know others over meals, right? There is a social component to eating and drinking that is important. Did you know that the term companion derives from the Latin words meaning “with bread.” (over bread we find companions or we have a companion of the Bread of Life)
Take a look at Acts 2:42-47, and see what happens when the disciples communion together.
God uses the feast of our faith to nourish us in Christ and to generate an increased desire for God that will spread throughout the life of the congregation.
Yes, it’s just bread and juice, stuff of this world, but through God’s blessing and the Holy Spirit, it serves as a supernatural purpose, bringing us closer to God and to one another.
Holy Communion is a Spiritual Nourishment where God feeds our souls as we, together, celebrate the Bread of Life given for all.