Some Thoughts On The Lord's Supper
From the earliest days, we find examples of the saints gathering together to “break bread.” Sometimes this represented eating a common meal together, while it was evident in other places this meant to eat the supper established by Jesus, which we refer to as the Lord’s Supper.
Acts 2:42 references the “breaking of bread,” which I feel is referring to just this occasion: “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Later in 2:46, the context is clearly referencing the meals they shared in their individual homes, continuing the hospitality we discussed in the first article of this series: “And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.”
Jesus chose the food used to represent His body and blood from a meal he and His disciples ate together in observance of the Jewish Passover feast (Matthew 26). He chose without pomp or elaborate ceremony the bread and wine from that meal. The bread is to represent His body and the wine His blood. The bread would have been unleavened as established during the period of exodus from Egypt.
- And they shall eat the flesh that [same] night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs” (Ex. 12:8).
- Now you shall eat it in this manner: [with] your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste -- it is the Lord's Passover (Ex. 12:11).
It is from this occasion that the Lord’s Supper becomes forever entwined in our minds, with the image of our Savior sitting peaceably with the disciples as He calmly sets this memorial before us all. Those present did not have the foreknowledge of what was to come -- the violence to be done to Him, the silent Lamb sacrificed to save us.
Two-thousand years later saints continue to observe the memorial of Jesus’ death on the cross as they partake of the emblems -- the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine. In the first few verses of Acts 20 we find the disciples gathering on the first day of the week to break bread, to eat the Lord’s Supper: “And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul [began] talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight” (20:7).
We follow this same practice today as we gather on the first day and do the same. By partaking of this supper we commune with the blood and body of Christ (I Cor. 10:16). Paul confirms this occasion for us in I Cor. 11:23.
About 25 years after the church began on the first Pentecost following Jesus’ resurrection, the church in Corinth had introduced some false practices in its observance of the Lord’s Supper. Paul had to rein them in. The Corinthians had turned the Lord’s Supper into a common meal. Early arrivers also consumed all of the bread and wine so the whole congregation could not partake that day.
Over time man often begins to erode the purity of what God has determined for them to follow.