As the salesman came to the front door, he turned to the little boy sitting on the steps and asked, “Is your mother home?” He said yes, and the salesman began to ring the doorbell. After several rings and no response, he turned to the boy and said, “I thought you said your mother was home,” to which the boy replied, “She is, but this isn’t my house.” Sometimes we get the wrong answers because we don’t ask the right questions.
The closest thing that the Jewish community had to the Lord’s Supper was the Passover meal. Everything unclean was to be taken out of the house. A special meal using special recipes was to be used. At the center of the meal was unleaved bread and roasted lamb. It was further directed that the lamb could not have any broken bones. And had to be roasted whole.
This became the basis for the Lord’s Supper and no significance is lost on the fact that Jesus serves the meal for the first time on Passover. The Passover lamb is symbolic of Jesus. Since no bones are broken in the Passover lamb no bones are broken in Jesus. (John 19:31-33) Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. The unleavened bread became symbolic of the purity of the body of Christ. There was nothing unclean or unholy about it. And Jesus Himself, not the world, broke it.
We find that the first century Church easily accepted the Lord’s Supper and participated in the meal at every opportunity of worship. But there was a great out cry by nonbelievers for what they thought was cannibalism. “They are eating Christ’s body.” Well, we are eating His body, but it is only symbolic.
This is a way to remember.
Jesus had already encountered much difficulty in this concept. At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. I am the bread of life. Jesus is saying, there is something different about this bread. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.
The worship of God is comprised of many things; prayer, singing, sermons, Bible readings, etc. At the very center (the heart) of that worship is the body and blood of Christ. There is no worship of God that takes a higher form. It is the most holy moment in the worship of God. It is at the very point of God’s visitation into the congregation.
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Salvation is to be found in this meal. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
We worry about food, we worry about clothing, etc. What about spiritual food? For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.
It is easy for us in a weekly tradition to forget how important and how powerful this meal really is. This meal reminds us of a covenant between ourselves and God. A covenant of salvation. A covenant of forgiveness. A covenant of healing. A covenant of intimacy.
Paul warned the Church not to take this lightly. (1 Corinthians 11:27-30) Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.
“In an unworthy manner” does not mean without sin. We take the Lord’s Supper because we are sinners. In an unworthy manner means that we need to understand the importance of this meal. And have accepted Jesus into our hearts.