So, I have a question which has been burning in my mind ever since I was a young Christian and its been raised again when I read “A meal with Jesus” by Tim Chester. My question is about communion/breaking of bread. I want to know why we do it so differently to how Jesus did it and how the apostles and churches in Acts did it? You may think I am crazy, but I am reading the times when the people came to the Lords supper/communion/breaking of bread and it certainly isn’t the way we do it in church.
Lets have a look at how they broke bread:
Jesus and the disciples:
So at the last supper Jesus was celebrating the passover meal and we know from Exodus that they would have been eating lamb and unleavened bread:
“Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are…6Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight…That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.” Exodus 12:3-8
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed…. When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. – Luke 22:7&14
Ok so Jesus was eating the passover lamb and also the bread and drinking wine and they were also sitting at a table. It was a meal. So ok, the passover lamb is Jesus and that means we no longer need to slaughter a lamb because the sacrifice has been made. However It is strange how we no longer sit at a table and eat a meal together. Instead we pass around small squares of bread and a cup of wine that you can only have a sip of. Strange, I dont think I would call that a meal.
Ok what about the early church?
Well one example I want to look at is Paul rebuking the Corinthians about the Lords supper. He says:
So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk…So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together.- 1 Corinthians 11:20-33
Now when I read that, those Corinthians were getting rebuked for eating way too much and drinking too much wine which resulted in some not getting any food and going hungry and others getting drunk. There is no way they could do any of this from a slice of bread and a sip or thimble size glass of wine!! It must mean they had a real meal with real food. And Paul doesn’t say stop eating a meal together but he says to wait so everyone can eat together.
It’s odd how we have changed this so much! Why don’t we for the Lords supper gather around a table and eat good food and drink good wine (or grape juice) and then break bread and take the wine in remembrance of what Christ has done on the Cross? Think of the context that this would be in: family together, cultures together, rich and poor side by side eating, laughing, enjoying conversation, enjoying food the Lord has made and rejoicing in what Christ has done. Not only does this meal point back to what Jesus has done but it also points forward to this:
“Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” – Revelation 19:9
There is going to be a wedding and a wedding supper! There is going to be a feast, with eating! And I think that possibly means there will be more food then a slice of bread and thimble of wine and we wont stand in rows and not talk to each other… don’t you think?
It seems what we do now is no supper at all. Which is odd because we talk a lot about how Christianity is relational and not religious, however the way we do communion isnt exactly relational but comes across very religious. Therefore people who are not Christians will gaze on this and think that this is just a religious thing we do. But if we had a meal together which is very relational, they would see the warmth, the joy, the giving to the poor, the acceptance of all people who are in Christ and they will not see anything religious in it but they will see something very loving and Christ like!
So why don’t we eat together? Even if your church is 500, then break into smaller groups and enjoy a meal and fellowship and rejoice at what the Lord has done for you. Considering the “Son of man came eating and drinking” it seems strange that his bride does not do the same!