The Gift of Communion
Reading: Luke 22:14-23
Imagine the Bible timeline from Genesis through to the New Testament, through to Paul’s letters and through to Revelations.
When was the first communion in the Bible?
Answer: In Genesis 14 when Abram meets with Melchizedek king of Salem, and priest of the Most High God. Melchizedek brought out bread and wine.
Melchizedek’s status as a kingly priest mirrors Jesus’ status as a Kingly Priest through the “Covenant”; the promise.
The meal we are about to share is a “promise meal”.
It is an intimate meal; it was intimate between Melchizedek and Abram (later to be called Abraham). It is a meal which is always between you and God. It is a blessing. Abraham was blessed to become a patriarch.
Let’s move now to Exodus: How did God feed the Hebrews when they were travelling in the wilderness?
Answer: By providing manna.
Here God also meets us in the wilderness; he feeds us during the good times and the bad.
People say “I’m not good enough to receive Communion”.
That is true, but that is not the criteria by which you receive it – there is no standard. In fact, it’s a gift from God regardless of ability; you can’t earn it.
Exodus 12 – This was the establishment of eating the Passover meal. The foreshadowing of the Holy Communion. It was s significant moment. The Passover meal was a meal for the whole family. The Passover meal defined the Hebrews as God’s people. A meal marking redemption from God’s judgement – God’s judgement passed over the Hebrews. As reflected in Communion – our sins are not held against us. As we partake in Communion remember that your sins have been forgiven, therefore we must forgive those around us.
New Testament – The fact is during the Last Supper Jesus and his disciples are reclining at the table, not sitting at the table or kneeling. It is a close, intimate expression of love for one another. Imagine when you receive Communion that you are reclining against Jesus’ chest.
Jesus takes the cup of Elijah. Elijah’s cup, in Judaism,is the fifth ceremonial cup of wine poured during the family Seder dinner on Passover (Pesaḥ). It is left untouched in honour of Elijah, who, according to tradition, will arrive one day as an unknown guest to herald the advent of the Messiah. So imagine the scene, this is the cup which is never touched during the Passover Meal, but here is Jesus, he picks it up. In Luke 22 it says::
17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
The Communion meal is a in itself a foretaste of what we will experience in the heavenly banquet. We are called to Communion meal not because we have earned it, but because we are welcomed by God – it is a gift. It hints at the banquet of the Kingdom, that is why we celebrate it.