This article answers the following questions:
Taking Communion: What Does It Symbolize?
The Lord’s Supper: What Does It Symbolize?
Because the Passover Meal was the forerunner of the Lord’s Supper (also known as Communion), we can better answer questions like this one by looking at a comparison of the instructions for each meal, which I recently posted. For this question, we really only need item number 7 of the comparison:
Explanation To Be Given For Each Meal
God is very specific about what He wants us to teach as the meal is shared. He wants the meal to remind us of His great desire to save us from destruction!
Passover: It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians (Exo 12:27a).
Lord’s Supper: It is a reminder of the Lord’s death – what He did in order to spare us from being struck down with the ungodly (based on 1Cor 11:26).
At the Last Supper (which was a Passover Meal), Jesus told His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” When we eat the bread and drink the wine, we are symbolically saying, “I honor the sacrifice that Jesus made to save me from destruction.”
Communion is one of the two beautiful ordinances given in the New Testament, the other ordinance being Baptism. Ordinances and their purpose and meaning are very important because they tell a story. The beautiful story of the two New Testament ordinances is one of a budding and growing covenant relationship with God! Each ordinance is to portray something that has taken place inwardly. It’s sort of like playacting an event that others did not see.
The first part of the New Testament believer’s story is water baptism. This is a reenactment of the spiritual baptism of our heart, mind, and attitude. The second part of the New Testament believer’s story is Communion. This is a reenactment of Christ’s death for our sin and of our acceptance of that gracious gift. As the bread is broken, the picture is of the body of Christ being broken (killed). As the wine is taken, it is a picture of the blood of Christ being poured out. And as we consume the bread and the wine, we symbolically show that we are receiving the sacrifice Jesus made for our sin.
The ordinance of Communion is to be reenacted often, until the Lord comes again (1Cor 11:26), because it is a way of honoring the sacrificial death of Jesus – something believers should never forget!
Keeping it real,
Photo: Last Supper by Andrea del Sarto