Have you ever struggled with teaching your children about Communion, or even understanding it yourself? Have you ever gone through the Sunday morning motions of receiving Communion only to go back to your seat thinking, “Why do we this? What’s the point? 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 fifth post in a series of blog posts of answers to 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.
How do I teach my children about Communion?
First Things First
The question that was implicitly answered in Communion Q & A – Part II, should probably be explicitly answered here first: Should I allow my children to partake of Communion? The answer depends. It depends on whether or not they are true believers, who have repented of their sin, and have had the genuineness of their repentant faith affirmed by their church in baptism (again, see the 2nd blog post in this series). It matters not if the parents are believers or if the children “really want” to eat the bread and drink the juice. What matters is the tested genuineness of their faith. If they are living a sincere life of turning from trusting in anything else and turning to Christ alone by faith, then they should be baptized. After they are baptized, they should not be kept from receiving the Lord’s Supper. However, whether they partake of this meal or not, the time and topic of Communion can be used to share the gospel truth with our children.
The Three Parts
Where do we start? There are so many different aspects of Communion that can be explained and expounded upon, but we need to start somewhere. I think that there are three key aspects that would be most helpful to teach to our children early and often. Here easy to remember parts to focus upon: Past, Present, and Future. I have tried to explain them with certain words and sound play so as to make it easier to remember, as well. I hope these things will help you to teach, remind, and pray with your children before, during, and after Communion each week.
Past – Remember His past death with faith. (Luke 22:19; I Corinthians 11:23-26) — “Do this in remembrance of Me.”
Our sins have been atoned for in the past when Jesus passed away on the Cross. Our sins passed from us to Christ and His righteousness passed from Him to us by faith in the good news that He passed away in the past as the righteous sacrifice in our place.
This is faith in what Jesus has done. Not just that He died, but that He died in the place of sinners like us, bearing our punishment as a Substitute. His death effectively accomplished our full salvation so that our sins are forgiven and we are completely accepted by God forever because of what Jesus did when He died in the past. This is what we remember with faith.
Present – Celebrate His present closeness with joy. (I Corinthians 10:16; Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25). — “This is my body.” “This is my blood.” “a participation in the blood of Christ.” “a participation in the body of Christ.”
Whenever we partake of Communion with faith, Christ is present with us in the present as a present. It is a gift; a blessing; a present that He is spiritually present with us, meeting with us, at the moment we partake of the bread and the juice in present time for our spiritual good.
There is great peace and joy knowing that Jesus comes close to us in a spiritual way for the health and growth of our faith in Him and love for Him. This is a reality every time we partake of Communion. It is as though we are receiving Him spiritually in our midst for the nourishment of our souls by feeding on Christ (John 6:30-35, 41, 47-58, 60-63, 66-69) at the very moment we are receiving the elements physically by faith in what they represent. And this nearness, this closeness, is of great benefit to us and cause for celebration with great joy.
Future – Long for His future return with hope. (Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; I Corinthians 11:26) — “until that day… in my Father’s Kingdom.” “until He comes.”
Jesus is not finished with us yet. The best is yet to come! We have a secure and wonderful future awaiting us in the future. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God plans and promises to give His people a hope and a future. This means not merely that in future time He will allow us to exist, but that in future time we will have an overwhelming abundance of blessing in Christ which He has already planned and promised for us. Every spiritual blessing is promised to us in Jesus Christ. It is as though Jesus is our future. In Him we have a hope of a better tomorrow/future, everlastingly so.
We will not always be receiving Communion together, for there will come a day in the future when the weekly appetizer of the Lord’ Supper will be followed by the great and everlasting feast with God in the New Heaven and Earth. While we already have the Covenant promises of God and many of the foretastes of the future right now in the present (see previous point), we will not receive the fullness of these promises until the future. So we should long for this glorious day, when all wrongs will be made right and all the faith will be sight. But ours should be a longing with hope, because our future, bound up with Christ’s return, is as solidly secure as it is supremely satisfying.