Do you enjoy partaking of Communion? Have you ever wondered why we do this every week? Have you ever struggled with teaching your children about Communion, or even understanding it yourself?
There is a considerable amount of confusion surrounding Communion (a.k.a., the Lord’s Supper). It is often misunderstood, and even more often under-understood. Therefore, this is the third post of a series answering some questions that I have been asked about Communion. It is my prayerful hope that these blog posts will be beneficial for you by answering nagging questions you might have, by helping you to think more clearly and deeply about this special gift from God to us which we partake of every week, by perhaps correcting some of your faulty thinking with regards to Communion and even the gospel itself, and by enriching your understanding of and appreciation for the unmatched love of God for you in Christ.
Why do we speak of the breaking of Jesus’ body when John 19 clearly teaches that none of His bones were broken?
Three Short Answers
We do not always use this language, and it is good to use fresh and new words at different times to speak of what the bread and juice represent, however, we frequently do speak of Jesus’ body being “broken”. Why, especially considering what John 19:31-36 says as it quotes and alludes to other Old Testament passages about the Messiah’s bones not being broken?
1) It is Biblical language. In Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; and I Corinthians 11:23-24, Jesus breaks the bread and says, “This is my body.” In I Corinthians 10:16b speaks of breaking the bread as a means of partaking of the body of Christ.
2) It is metaphorical language. It does not need to refer to every part of Jesus’ body, but to the fact that He was broken for us. In Isaiah 53:5 it says that He was “crushed for our iniquities”. He was not literally crushed, but He was figuratively crushed in the sense of His body being beaten and brutally abused. And even more so, as Isaiah 53:10 says, the “crushing”/“breaking” of Jesus was God’s punishment of Him for our sins. This is a spiritual breaking. Plus, while it is clear and true that the bones of Jesus were never broken, His flesh still was. It was torn and ripped and flayed. In this sense, His “body”/”flesh” was broken. In His humanity, He was broken for us who believe so that we can be made whole.
3) It is historical language. The Church has used similar language over the past 2000 years. It is a way of staying connected to the rich and deep heritage of Christ-exalting practice and speech from believers over the centuries. We do not stand alone and we do not stand unless we stand on the shoulders of those before us. While tradition is not supreme, it can be good and helpful.
Why do we use juice instead of wine?
Three Short Answers
Wine is the preferred substance in keeping with the origins and history of Communion. However, we believe that juice is an acceptable contextual substitute for the following three reasons:
1) It is still juice from the fruit of the vine, just like wine (Mark 14:25).
2) It speaks to the sweetness of the product of Jesus’ bitter death.
3) It is, in our context, more easily accepted by most people.
Why do we partake of Communion every week?
Three Short Answers
Many churches partake of Communion monthly or quarterly, and some only annually. We do not believe it is a sin that they do so. However, we do believe it is less beneficial that they do so, for the following reasons:
1) We believe it best represents and continues what the early church did (Acts 2:42-47; 20:7).
2) It is a constant reminder of and way to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in a tangible, visible way. It gives us an opportunity and forces us to take the opportunity to explain the gospel in every worship gathering we have.
3) It is a real means of grace by which all who rightly receive it do so unto their spiritual nourishment and benefit.
(For more on this see the following link on Weekly Communion).