Today is Holy Communion Sunday. Methodists partake the Holy Communion on the first Sunday of every month, calling it “the Holy Communion Sunday service”.
The background of Holy Communion comes from the Passover feast celebrated by the Israelites just before God delivered them from slavery in the land of Egypt. In Egypt, they were forced into hard, laborous work by their task masters. They were oppressed to the extend that it was unbearable for them. They then cried out to God for deliverance.
God heard their cries and sent them Moses to lead them out of the land of oppression and slavery into the Land God had promised them. This land would be a good and spacious land, and it would be fruitful too— “a land flowing with milk and honey.” What a beautiful promise it was compared to their horrible living conditions in Egypt!
On the night of deliverance, God would send an angel of death to strike down all the first born of the Egyptians. God told the Israelites to smear the blood of a sacrificed lamb on the door frames of their houses so that when the angel of death saw the blood over the door frames, he would “pass over” their houses and not strike their firstborns.
That was the original Jewish Passover. It is recorded in Exodus 12:1-30.
In the New Testament, on the night before His death, Jesus Christ deliberately celebrated the Jewish Passover Feast with His disciples. ‘And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For i tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15-16). He drew parallel of His sacrificial death to the Passover lamb. As the blood of the sacrificial lamb was smeared on the door frames and the Israelites would be safe in the house, the blood of Jesus would be poured out to save humanity.
During the Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus introduced the symbols of the bread and the wine. For those who have been baptized in His Name, we will take the bread (a wafer) to remember Jesus’ death on the Cross for us. We remember how He had given Himself up for us. He was crucified for us. He was just like the Passover lamb; He died, so we can live and have eternal life. We will then take the cup (grape juice) which symbolises the blood of Christ that is shed for us and washes away our sins.
Jesus commanded that this is to be done in remembrance of Him. He said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19b). We also remember the new covenant which Jesus made through the Cross.
I tell my church members to remember these few things every time we come forward for Holy Communion:
a. The Past
Jesus was crucified for our sins and He died for us. He who is without sins took the sins of the world upon Himself so that we sinners have a new life and a new identity in Him, the Giver of Life. We are reconciled to God the Father. In the past, we rebelled against His love, but through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, our relationship with God is restored.
b. The Present
Three days after Jesus had died, He rose again. He is alive! He is in Heaven now. The Holy Communion reminds us that Jesus is with us now. It is the time to examine our life: are we living a life that is pleasing to Him?
c. The Future
The Bible tells us that one day, Jesus Christ will come again in victory as well as coming as the Judge of the world. He will come and take believers with Him and we will be with Him in His Kingdom, forever. One day, we will all feast with Him in His Heavenly Banquet. The Holy Communion we partake every month is just a foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet in God’s Kingdom someday.
d. Unity in Christ
Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:17, “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf” (NIV). The “one loaf” here refers to the unity of believers. When we kneel together for Holy Communion, we will realise we are all the same in God’s eyes. We are His beloved children; there is no hierarchy, no class or labels as “richer” or “poorer” people. God loves us all. Jesus died for all of us. There is no distinction. It is also time to examine our relationships and to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with each other before the Lord. God’s love will restore us.
I hope you have been blessed by this brief introduction of the significance of the Holy Communion. 🙂