Here are a few questions you may be asking yourself:
- What's the big deal with Christians eating pieces of bread and drinking little cups of wine or grape juice?
- Where did communion come from? How did the tradition start?
- Do you need to participate in communion to become a Christian, or stay a Christian?
Let’s dive into each of those three questions and maybe answer others you have along the way:
Where did communion start and come from?
Before we can answer the first question, we must look back and understand how this current religious practice started.
Communion is also often referred to as “The Lord’s Supper” or “Eucharist,” which comes from the Greek eucharistia meaning “thanksgiving.” In “The Lord’s Supper,” the Lord directly refers to Jesus, who celebrated communion for the first time. In Luke 22, we have an official historical account of that moment with Jesus.
While eating a final meal with his disciples before his death on the cross, Luke describes this moment saying, “He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” After supper, he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.
So, where did communion come from? The answer is simple: It came from Jesus. Now let’s go back and answer the first question.
What's the big deal? Why does communion matter?
For the past 2,000 years, followers of Jesus have been taking bread and drink to help them refocus on Jesus and to remember what Jesus did on the cross.
We will face difficulties and hardships throughout our lives. Challenges at work, in our marriages, with our children or parents, or with our health, to name a few. Jesus knew that when those tough times come, we may struggle to keep our eyes on him.
The bread, broken into pieces, serves as a reminder of the body of Jesus for us to hang on a cross in our place. The red-colored drink reminds us of the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross for us to pay the penalty for our sins.
Jesus instructed those who follow him to regularly engage in a practice that will redirect our attention to the hardships in our lives and help us refocus on him. That’s what it’s all about. That’s why it’s a big deal.
Communion matters because it serves the purpose of remembering and celebrating the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for you so that you can live free and in a relationship with him every day.
Do you need to participate in communion to be a Christian?
The answer to this is clear: No.
Taking part in communion does not result in salvation or the gift of eternal life as a Christian. The Bible warns us about taking part in communion if we aren’t fully committed to Jesus in our lives.
In 1 Corinthians 11:27-31, the Apostle Paul challenges anyone wishing to participate in communion to “examine themselves before eating the bread and drinking the cup.”
God says we have a clean heart by confessing to him what we know to be sin in our lives.
If you are exploring a relationship with Jesus, this can be a valuable time to grasp what Jesus has done for you. So while you would not take communion, you could use the time to reflect on that truth.
Participating in communion isn’t a constant checklist you must continue to complete to stay a Christian.
We believe we all fall short of God’s perfect standard because of our sinful nature. God solved this problem by sending his Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty of death for the sins of humanity. Those who trust in Jesus’s payment for their sins are forgiven and receive eternal life as a gift from God, with no strings, like communion, attached.
If you have more questions about Communion or want to talk to someone more about what it means to trust Jesus, we’d love to speak with you!
LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ. We are one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania. Find the location closest to you or join us for Church Online. We can’t wait to connect with you!