Five Views from the Communion Table
Communion is the remembrance of the death of Jesus on the Cross. It reminds us of how He gave His body and shed His blood so that we might have the relationship with God, lost because of sin, renewed. While communion speaks of the Cross in general, various aspects of communion remind us of additional truths to remember. In I Corinthians 15:23-26 Paul detailed the communion service and gave us five different views presented this service.
First, communion is a LOOK BACK. Paul reminds us that in taking communion we look back on our Lord’s death on the Cross (1 Corinthians 11:26). When we look back to the Cross we are reminded of our Lord’s sacrifice, of how He gave Himself for us, of how that death was an atonement for our sins. The communion service is a look back at a broken body and shed blood. It’s a look back at the suffering of the Cross and a reminder that it all took place for us while we were yet sinners. Looking back, we are reminded of the incredible love that took our Savior to that Cross. We remember His death as we take communion and praise Him for it because without the shedding of His blood we would forever be lost in our sins, condemned to everlasting separation from a holy God.
Communion is, however, not simply a look back, but it is a look at the present, a LOOK WITHIN. I Corinthians 11:28 tells us that one “ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.” In the second look we take an honest look at where we stand in our present walk with the Lord. Certainly, that look includes an examination of our motive for taking communion. There are people who take communion out of a sense of duty or because a church requires it for maintaining membership. There are those who, unfortunately, take communion out of some superstition assuming that in taking it they bring some special blessing from God upon themselves. Our real motive ought to be the desire to simply remember all that our Savior did for us, to remember the great love displayed in that sacrifice and to re-commit ourselves to being the individuals He wants us to be. A look within should reveal not only our motive in taking communion but our current spiritual condition and the commitments we must make to grow spiritually. What are we doing spiritually with our lives? How are we living as redeemed children of God? Are we seriously and honestly striving for holiness? Is Jesus first in our lives? As we come to the communion table, we need to look not only back to the Cross but at ourselves. If in doing so we discover sin, we need to confess it. If in looking within we see areas of weakness, we need to commit them to the Lord, seeking His help to grow stronger in our faith. Communion is an opportunity to seek God’s strength as we seek to live for Him who loved us so much that He went to the Cross for us. Looking within should be a vital part of each communion service.
Third, communion is LOOK AT THE LOST in the community around us and is a testimony to the world of our faith. Paul said in verse 26 that when we take communion, we “proclaim the Lord’s death.” I know that very few, if any, unsaved individuals will watch us take communion but that does not mean that our partaking of communion cannot be a testimony. On Monday most Christians will have a conversation with someone that will begin with “So what did you do over the weekend?” That is an opportunity for you to say, “I mowed the lawn, shot a 76 round of golf and most importantly, I took communion at church.” Try to imagine the looks you will get when you say that. Then use it as an opportunity to share why taking communion is so important being, sure to include the truth of the gospel. Let the communion service be a means of “proclaiming the Lord’s death.”
Fourth, as we partake of communion we need to LOOK AHEAD. I Corinthians 11:26 reminds us that as we take communion, we are to remember that He is coming again. In taking communion we remember all He has done for us “until He comes” This is a future look. We are told in Matthew 26:29 that as we take communion we are to look ahead to that glorious day when our Savior comes again, and we will take Communion with our Lord in His kingdom.
There are two ways of looking at His return. There are those who sadly should be fearful when the issue of His return comes up because they have never made Him Lord and so His return means judgment. Hopefully none of us are in that category. But in addition, there are all of us who know Jesus as Savior and, therefore, look forward to His return with great joy and excitement. We do that because we know that when He comes again it will be for us and we will spend the rest of eternity in His glorious presence. And as we think of that return or of our going to be with Him first, we remember that God’s great provision on the Cross made that future possible. Communion reminds us of the truth that this service is in a real sense a temporary one with so much more to look forward to when our Lord returns.
Looking ahead is not only a question of how we will feel when He comes but how we are living each day considering His possible return. It is said that one day someone asked Dwight L. Moody, “If you knew the Lord would return tonight, how would you spend the rest of the day?” Mr. Moody is said to have replied without hesitation, “I wouldn’t do anything different than I do every day.” How wonderful if we all could say that! Then we could, with confidence, pray as it was prayed in Revelation 22:20, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
And in the chapter just before the one where Paul records for us the actual service we find achallenge for what we might say is a fifth look, a LOOK AROUND. I Corinthians 10:17 says, “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” We come to the table of our Lord conscious of the truth that we are not alone. We individually remember what Jesus did for us personally on the Cross. We personally examine ourselves to determine not only our motive but our current spiritual condition. We look forward to the day when we personally will be at the throne with our Savior. We should also remember that we are not alone in our faith but we are a part of both a local church and a worldwide church made up of men and women who, like us, know and love the Lord and rejoice in so great a salvation provided for us. We really should not take of communion without giving thanks to God for our Christian family. We are not alone in our faith. We need one another and in a special way we are responsible for one another. We are responsible to encourage one another, to correct in love one another when we see a brother or sister entering into sin, to assist one another in growing spiritually, and in discovering his or her spiritual gifts. We are responsible to help each other raise their families. We are to be with those in the family of God who need special help because of age or illness. We are to care for the widows and orphans, to visit the sick and lonely etc. A view from the communion table must be a view of the brethren, those in the family of God.
What a privilege it is for us to come together and partake of the communion elements, elements that speak so vividly of God’s provision for us! Read again Paul account of the communion service as recorded in I Corinthians 11:23-26. Then as you think of communion, even if you do not physically partake of it at this time, look back to the Cross, look within to evaluate not only motive but those areas that Jesus would have us improve on, look around to see how we can use the celebration of communion as a means of sharing the gospel, look ahead to the return of our Savior with joy and excitement and look at others who partake of communion with you and remember the responsibility we have to each other as well as the church in general.