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By Andy Zoppelt
In search of communion
For 36 years I have struggled with the Lord's Supper, I must confess. Something did not seem right about it. I felt that I was going through the ritual without the reality. So now let us take a look at communion from the Biblical perspective. The word supper comes from the Greek word deipnon (dipe'-non), which means the chief meal or a festival. The church building cannot normally accommodate, nor is it favorable, to such intimacy that would have followed the Lord's Supper. In the Passover, which was the setting for the Lord's Supper, it was a lamb for a family. "Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one (lamb) for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat." (Ex 12:3, 4, NIV) The size of the lamb determined the number of people who would get together. The Passover was a shadow of the Lord's Supper and the Lord's Supper is a prophetic celebration of the marriage supper of the Lamb. We celebrate the Lord's Supper prophetically now, but one day we will share it with Jesus in heaven at the marriage supper of the Lamb. "Then the angel said to me, 'write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' And he added, 'these are the true words of God.' " (Rev 19:9, NIV). At the marriage supper of the Lamb, we will be one family with one lamb. Jesus! We celebrate this feast in remembrance till we eat the bread and drink the wine with Jesus at the wedding supper of the Lamb. Think how glorious it will be, when Jesus takes the bread and the wine at the end of the meal, after we have enjoyed fellowship with one another, and He then ministers to His body as the Lamb of God and the Bridegroom of His beloved body. This will be no cracker-and-thimble-glass event; it will be an extended feast of fellowship and common union with Him and one another. We will enjoy the undistracted fellowship with the Lord and one another. We will be caught up in direct fellowship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All tears will have been removed, all pain and sickness will be healed and we will be able to behold HIM in all His glory. What a feast, what a time that will be. We celebrate communion in hopes of that union with Him, the feast that will end all feasts. "For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known." (1 Cor 13:9-12, NASU) The Lord's Supper is symbolic of intimate fellowship; we eat with friends and family. We are eating as a separated people and a separated kingdom from this world. We are declaring our holy relationship with the Lord and one another. We are prophetically waiting and celebrating the Lord's Supper as a witness to our final union with Him. We are expectantly looking forward to seeing our master and Lord in His entire splendor. So let us rejoice and be glad at this feast, and let us with hope look forward to the great feast of the Lord. "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 8:10, NIV) I have tasted the real celebration with brothers I love, in an intimate fellowship in a home, and refuse to go back the cracker-and-thimble-glass event. We have been robbed and raped in the meaningless religion that we have created.
When we celebrate communion we are to have a yearning in anticipation of celebrating communion with Jesus, which is why we cannot have any grievance with one another. Can you imagine having a grievance with a brother at the marriage supper of the Lamb? Until we celebrate that feast with the Lord, we are to rejoice in the presence of the Holy Spirit and with the saints - His Body. The reason we cannot put the meaning back into communion is because we have lost the meaning of salvation and the church. "'For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it (the Lord's Supper) finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.' After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, 'Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.'" (Luke 22:16-18, NIV) It must have been a tremendous revelation for the disciples when Jesus took the bread and the wine at Passover and distributed it to them. The Passover found its intent and meaning at that very moment; the Lamb, the food, the bread and the wine, all came together in one glorious feast. I would have loved to see the shadow find its reality in the person of the Lord. The praises must have reached the highest heaven; the angels must have shouted a glorious shout. The disciples must have been sitting there in absolute amazement. "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world." The disciples realized, "He has arrived, He is here and He is in our midst." "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us." (1 John 1:1, 2, NASU).
We proclaim His return in communion and have our hope in heaven
"For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." (1 Cor 11:26, NIV). Our celebration of the Lord's Supper is a proclamation of his return. Every time we take communion, we are proclaiming that we are witnesses to His return and the stand-ins for Him in this present world. We are to be a united, fruit-bearing gathering of His saints. We have a hope of a life beyond the suffering of this present world. That hope is "an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf." (Heb 6:19-20, NIV). That hope, if it is real to us will purify us. "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." (1 John 3:2-3, NASU). The world, entertainment, excitement, success and ease have dominated the church today and we have lost that living hope we have of heaven. We have lost the focus on "things above, where Christ is seated." Communion is meant to be a heavenly anticipation. When we lose our heavenly hope, we lose the prophetic purpose of communion, we end up celebrating a historic Jesus rather than a resurrected one, and we focus on pleasing ourselves rather than pleasing Him. Communion is linked in our hope of heaven and being with Jesus without veils or obstacles. "We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you (Why?), because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints- the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven." (Col 1:3-5, NIV).
We proclaim our oneness in communion
The reality of our oneness, the purpose of our fellowship and our relationship with the Lord is beyond ecstasy and elation. It certainly fulfills the words of Peter, "Joy unspeakable and full of glory." (1 Peter 1:8). We have lost the sense of intimacy in the church today, we have very little joy in one another. Paul said, "My joy is the joy of you all." (2 Cor 2:3) How wonderful it would be if communion were a celebration of our joy and oneness in one another and in the Lord. Sadly we have become so fat on theology and teaching that we can't see the forest for the trees. We have become so totally ingrained and captivated in our religious practices, we have lost the standard and the pattern of New Testament church life. Communion is a declaration of our unity. If we fail to recognize that union and don't properly respond to it, we suffer serious consequences. "For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep." (1 Cor 11:29- 30, NIV). What is the "body of the Lord?" Is it not the real church, the saints, those that love the Lord Jesus? We see so little healing of relationships and therefore see so little of healing physically. We fight, we divide, we keep list of faults, we don't forgive, we have little mercy on one another, and we don't care about the pain we cause one another. Then in arrogance (or should it be ignorance?), we take communion as though we have a common union. We lack the revelation and the joy of communion, because we have no common union. Our relations are not in obedience to God's word and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. How can you have a kingdom whose subjects have not subjected themselves to the King? There is no common ground in our relationships, and anything goes. We have no committed covenant relationship with one another. The foundation has been removed and many so-called ministers today accommodate and make allowances for rebellion to exist in the body of Christ. We split and sever as though it was a biblical mandate given by Jesus Himself. Where is the cry of the true men of God who can discern the body?
"Many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep." We are weak and sick, our spiritual temperature has reached an all time low. We live in a religious atmosphere void of true meaning. We have removed the real purpose of communion to suit a religion rather than a lifegiving celebration of our common union with Him. Many have broken the bonds of relationships; we have lost the significance of unity, love and the sacrifice of our lives for one another. When those elements are removed, we are left with a meaningless and religious practice. We try to conjure some feelings of a Jesus that shed His blood on the cross. We do communion in a sullen and funeral kind of atmosphere, we bow our heads and try to make meaning out of it. How sad, but what else can we do when we have no relationships with those we are supposed to be celebrating with? God has stamped Ichabod on our doors and we conduct services as usual. I can't believe that we cannot see this, it is so obvious. We have an entertaining religion void of power and fellowship, and few see it. The fact that we are void of these basics of true Christianity amazes me. Why don't we rise up in revolt and protest? Why don't we fall on our faces in shame and disgrace? Where is the real beef of our relationships? These indifferent attitudes are only a demonstration of our condition -- we are asleep and have fallen away.
I hope that I have given you a true picture of the Biblical meaning of the Lord's Supper. I pray that you will see the joy that was intended in this feast, the hope of finally celebrating it with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords -- Jesus -- our beloved! Let your faith reach beyond this carnally driven world and let it reach into the eternal heavens and have communion with HIM!
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