The Lord's Supper

By Ernie and Mary Kroeger

The purpose of this writing is to bring forth the spiritual meaning of the Lord's Supper. The Passover Supper, as recorded in Matt. 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25 and Luke 22:19-20, was celebrated once a year. In 1 Cor. 11:20-34, Paul shares what the Lord has revealed to him in regard to the Lord's Supper, and we see that in some respects it ties in with the Passover Supper, and in other respects it is different.

The Passover Supper was an important Old Covenant meal, celebrated once a year, and it foreshadowed Christ's death. When Christ last ate this meal together with His disciples, He said, " I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." (Matt.26:29) And in Luke 22:16 He said, "I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." The Father's kingdom is a spiritual kingdom where He rules in a spiritual people by the Holy Spirit. This rule came into existence after Christ's death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Drinking this new wine (divine revelation) together with our Lord speaks of a spiritual dining together with Him where He feeds us divine revelation (truth).

Notice that Christ said that He would drink it "new with you". This is a new meal - not a repetition of the old Passover meal. The old one was celebrated yearly with the same kind of food and drink. The Lord's Supper is celebrated whenever we get together (where two or three are gathered in His name He is in the midst of them), not with physical food, but with spiritual food (fresh manna) and drink (new revelation truth) set before us from the Lord.

"Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God, and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you." (1 Cor. 11: 20-22)

Apparently the Corinthian church thought it was celebrating the Lord's Supper when they assembled, each one bringing his own food and drink, and eating together. There was no love, no unity and no sharing of food. Who cared if his brother and sister were hungry? Let them fend for themselves! Their dinner conversation revealed the factions and schisms that existed among them as they eagerly expounded their own ideas. (v. 18) Paul was not impressed, and told them that this was not the Lord's Supper. Coming together to eat food that feeds the physical body is not an aspect of the Lord's Supper. It consists of spiritual food (truth), prepared for us by the Lord and enjoyed together with Him and other participants.

Paul then went on to explain what the Lord had revealed to him. "For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, `This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' (vv.23-24)

In John 6:53-56 Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him."

What did Jesus mean by this? Since it is impossible for us to eat His physical body and drink His physical blood, we know that He is clearly speaking of a spiritual concept. Jesus Christ is the bread that came down from heaven, and this bread is truth. He said, "I am the truth." Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Jesus identified with who He was spiritually, not physically. His body is a spiritual body of truth. In order to commune with Him we have to receive truth from Him continually! Receiving spiritual truth is equated with eating His flesh.

"This is My body that was broken." Christ's body is a spiritual body of truth and light. His broken body symbolizes that He is giving us truth in a form that we can understand, and as we break bread together we share what we have learned. In our conversations with Christ, He imparts truth to us and we speak truth to Him. All our questions receive a truthful reply. If we do not commune with Him, we will remain spiritual babes, munching on the same bread over and over again. This does not edify. Spiritual strength, growth and edification take place when we dine daily at the Lord's table, eat the truth that is set before us, and then, in the trials and challenges of daily life, we put it into practice.

" In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, `This cup is the New Covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes." (vv. 25-26)

What about drinking His blood? Does drinking a bit of wine that has been blessed, mean that we are drinking Christ's blood? Of course not! A much deeper and more blessed truth is involved! Illumination comes to us as we look at the correct translation of Lev. 17:11 where it says that the soul (NEPHESH) of the flesh is in the blood. Therefore the blood of Jesus represents His soul. LIFE IS NOT IN THE BLOOD; IT IS IN THE SPIRIT. Our soul is our sense of being, and our sense of being is derived from our circumstances, mind, emotions and will. We know that the soul of Jesus did not receive its sense of being from earthly or worldly philosophies. He did not have a sin-consciousness, and He only desired to do the will of the Father. He knew who He was spiritually, and that God was His Father. Therefore drinking the blood of Jesus means that we are receiving Christ's sense of being. His sense of being frees us from our false sense of being, keeps us from sinning, and brings us into a oneness with Christ. The blood (soul) of Jesus cleanses us from all our sins (1 John 1:7b). When we receive His sense of being we receive the assurance that we are His children, and our sole desire will be to do the Father's will. We are a new creation and Christ is our righteousness. This frees us from our sin-consciousness.

Jesus said, "This is the New Covenant in My blood." We cannot have a New Covenant if there was not a previous covenant. The New Covenant makes the former covenant an Old Covenant that is no longer valid. If the old covenant had been perfect, a new covenant would not have been needed. God made this New Covenant with Himself, and the blood of Jesus sealed it. A blood covenant cannot be broken.

In this covenant God has promised (covenanted) to be merciful to us, and promised (covenanted) that He will not remember our sins. He promised (covenanted) to put His law in our minds and in our hearts. What an amazing God we have! He gives us the mind and Spirit of Christ so that we can think His thoughts and do His will! He tells us that we belong to Him, and that all shall know God. (Heb. 8:10-13) To know Him we have to have a personal relationship with Him. Just knowing things about God does not mean that we KNOW HIM. We can know many facts and figures ABOUT God without KNOWING Him.

How blessed we are that our Lord wants us to eat the food that He has prepared for us, and that He wants to eat together with us! As we dine with Him we are fed truth. What a smorgasbord He has for us! Breaking bread with our brothers and sisters means that we are sharing the truth that God has revealed to us with one another. Wine symbolizes spiritual revelation. God wants a personal relationship with each one of us, and then He wants us to share with one another the precious nuggets that He imparts to us.

"This do in remembrance of Me." We are to remember that our salvation has nothing to do with our works; it is completely the work of Christ! We are God's workmanship! We cannot claim any credit! If self gets in the way, we are not remembering His great redemption.

"For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes." In Romans 6:10 we read that Christ's death was a death to sin. So we proclaim the Lord's death to sin by living in Christ's resurrection power.

"Until He comes." It does not say until He comes in the sky. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us; He is always with us, so why do we want Him to come again? Our problem is that we do not always recognize that His presence is with us and in us. He is everywhere, and He fills all things, but we desire His manifest presence. His manifest presence comes to us every time we receive divine revelation, and we say that He came to us. Divine revelation changes us. When Christ is fully formed in us, He has come. He comes to live His life through us!

In proclaiming the Lord's death to sin, we recognize that our life in Christ is also dead to sin. Christ is our righteousness. Keeping our eyes on Jesus removes our fascination for the things of this world - like honor, pride, riches, power over people, etc. When sin no longer holds any fascination for us, we are dead to fleshly desires. This enables us to love our enemies and to pray for them as Christ did.

"Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. " (v. 27) If we go back into keeping the laws of the old covenant for our sanctification, we rely on our works for our righteousness, and thus become unworthy. Our works of righteousness can never measure up to Christ's righteousness. If it were possible to gain righteousness through our works, the death of Jesus Christ would not be necessary. The old covenant people crucified Christ, for the flesh is always opposed to the Spirit. If we try to obtain our righteousness by keeping the law, we join the multitude that crucified Jesus Christ.

"But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly." (v. 28-29) To find out how to examine ourselves we turn to 2 Cor. 13:5. "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test?"

Isn't this amazing! We examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith - if we believe what God says. Are we living by faith or by natural knowledge and self-effort? We don't examine ourselves to see how may errors we committed during the past week. That would be examining the Adam man - the source of sin, the man who thinks his self-righteousness can be equated with God's righteousness. We are no longer in the Adam man; we have been put into Christ! If we don't recognize that Christ is in us and that He is our life, our righteousness and sanctification, we fail the test.

"For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly." (v.29) Judging or discerning the body of Christ is of utmost importance. How do we discern the body of Christ? Truth is the standard by which everything is to be judged. If we think we are still in the old Adam man and under the old covenant, we are not judging the body correctly. The law gets us back into self-effort and into judging others according to the law. We can never keep the whole law; therefore, according to the law we would be guilty sinners again. If we judge others according to the law, we will also be judged according to the law. Do we want law or grace?

"For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep." (v. 30) Here we have the reason for much of the weakness and sickness among Christians, and even some deaths. If we do not know who we are in Christ, we will think we are still in the Adam man. This brings us into the bondage of guilt, unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, etc., and these wrong attitudes affect the physical body and cause weakness, illness and even death (physically and spiritually).

"But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged." (v. 31) How do we judge ourselves correctly since we don't have all knowledge? True judgment can only occur when we hear God's judgment and agree with Him. His standard is truth, and nothing can influence Him to believe a lie. Have you ever checked the scriptures to see what God says about us? He says that He has taken us out of the Adam man - the source of all our carnal ideas and cravings. Since nothing good dwells in our flesh, we must judge all our carnal ideas of spiritual realities, and all our fleshly cravings that involve pride, honor, riches and sensual easy living to be undesirable and evil. God has not left us destitute in no man's land; He has placed us into Christ; He has given us His life and His righteousness; He has given us a new heart and a new mind. We belong to Him, and His life in us frees us from all guilt. This is a true judgment of who we truly are in Christ.

"But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world." (v.32) We are only judged in the areas where we have not judged ourselves. A judgment is a statement of what is true. Truth reveals the areas in our lives that need adjustment and correction - the areas that are still under the control of the lie. Our purpose for taking our car to the garage for some repairs and adjustments is for better functioning. Similarly, the purpose of all God's judgments is to make us function in truth. They are redemptive and disciplinary so that we can be purified and cleansed from all fleshly thoughts and activities. They help us to function as we are meant to function. When we understand our need, we will not fear them, even though the process is difficult. Instead, we may even welcome them.

"So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment." (vv.33-34) In summing up, Paul reminds us that when we come together to eat, we are not coming together to eat physical food - that food we can eat at home. Rather, we come together to eat spiritual food. Breaking bread together means sharing the divine revelation that we have received from the Lord. We don't come together to pass judgment on the behavior of others or on their dress codes, etc., but to encourage one another and to live in the obedience of faith!

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