1Cor.10:16-17 – “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.”
We often call the Lord’s Table – “Communion”. When I first met my wife, every month she went to have “Holy Communion”. At that time I was unconverted and unchurched, and the term totally scared me. But there is nothing to be frightened of in the word communion. It means – togetherness – to have things in common. It means fellowship.
We owe so much to a young man, who in 1517 had the courage to nail his protest to the door of the church of Wittenberg in Germany – seeking to reform the RC church. His name was Martin Luther. Whatever you think of Martin Luther, and we know he was not perfect, we are very foolish if we don’t thank God for raising up such a man with such courage to stand against the monstrous power of the RC church.
Prior to his day, the only denomination in existence in Europe was the RC. If any other attempt was made to start something new, it was quickly stamped out, usually with terrible massacres. It nearly happened that way for Martin Luther, but fortunately for us, God had other plans. Martin Luther was excommunicated, and a bounty was put on his head. But for all their efforts, the RC were unable to prevent the religious revival that spread across Europe.
One of the great changes that occurred was to the Lord’s Supper. Christians abandoned the RC rituals attached with Mass, and returned to the simple Scripture practice – calling it the “Lord’s Table” or the “Lord’s Supper” or “Communion”.
This was particularly so in England where Henry 8th established himself as the head of the Anglican Church in place of the Pope. That was the only change he wanted to make, however, the English clergy had other ideas. Henry was unable to stop the rapid reform. Bishop Hooper rejected the priestly garments. Bishop Jewel called the clerical robes a “stage dressing” and a “fool’s coat”, and vowed to exterminate them as a “degrading absurdity.” (A shame they don’t talk that way today – but it is as true today as it was then.)
Archbishop Grindall had great hesitation to accept the mitre, calling it later a “mummery of consecration.” But a big change came in the Lord’s Supper. Bishop Ridley pulled down the altars and placed tables in the middle of the church to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. They had good reason for this – they knew their Bibles.
And that is where we are today. Ideally, the table should be in the middle of the church, just as the Lord sat around the table at the Last Supper. You may remember, it was prepared by His instigation. It seems the Lord had organised for it beforehand, and possibly paid for it all Himself. He desired communion. He said, “With desire, I have desired this moment.” Our Lord dismissed Judas before instituting the Lord’s Supper. There could be no true communion while Judas was there.
Here in 1Cor.10 Paul refers to the Lord’s Supper as communion. In the following chapter he will rebuke the Corinthian church for their failure to practice communion and consider one another. He referred to it as, “not discerning the Lord’s body”. The church is the spiritual body of the Lord. Their failure to examine themselves put them to terrible hazard. Some of them were sick, and others had died prematurely.
Clearly, our fellowship in Communion must not be treated lightly. When the Scripture says, “let a man examine himself”, it is not just between our self and God, it is between our self & God, & each other. Here at the Lord’s Table we are refreshed in the power of the gospel to save our soul, and here we are also reminded we are the family of God. This is why Christians do not celebrate the Lord’s Supper alone at home in their own kitchen. Fellowship is a vital ingredient in observing the Lord’s Supper.
God is glorified when we consider one another for His sake. He is glorified when our fellowship is meaningful, and especially when it is at a spiritual level. Let us read again these words – “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.”
Let us give thanks together to the Lord, for His blood that was shed, and for His body that was broken. His broken body, is what makes us together as one body of believers.