THE REAL “WHY” BEHIND TAKING COMMUNION…AN IN-DEPTH BREAK DOWN OF TRUTH & RELIGIOUS MISCONCEPTIONS
(Sharing this break down for the purpose of believers gaining understanding so they can RECEIVE by faith all God has powerfully made available to us through communion – namely
physical healing & wholeness as well as spiritual benefit)
Let me begin by sharing a bit of sentiment from Joseph Prince, Senior Pastor of New Creation Church. “Misconceptions about the Holy Communion have robbed many believers of an important God ordained avenue of healing and wholeness.” “Jesus did not walk on water all the time, He did not calm storms all the time, but He healed all the time.”
Our God is a healer!!!! And we know that Jesus remains the same yesterday, today and forevermore (Heb 13:8). Therefore, once a healer, always a healer! His character never changes. Father God is so loving and faithful towards us that out of His great mercy and grace, He reveals His healing nature to us through: His written Word, His spoken Word, His Son as the manifested Word, ministering angels, the Holy Spirit, the laying on of hands, prayer, anointing oil, and even a gift of healing to work through one member of a body to another. Additionally, He has also made His healing power available to us through partaking in communion and eating of the resurrected body of Jesus Christ.
I want to focus specifically on 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 where Paul is speaking to the church of Corinth regarding “The Lord’s Supper”:
[1Co 11:17-34 NIV] 17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter! 23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world. 33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment. And when I come I will give further directions.
We see that in verses 17-22, Paul is addressing the behavior of the church in HOW they are taking communion…they aren’t really connected with what they are doing. Some are caught up in divisions, some are having their own private party within the church, some aren’t getting anything at all, and others are getting drunk. He is calling them out on not really connecting with the Godly purpose behind what they are doing.
Before we break down the meaning in verses 23-26, let us recognize that in context, Paul is briefly sharing with them the purpose behind what they are doing and what taking communion is supposed to be about, and he says in verse 34 that he will give them further directions when he comes to them.
So now looking at all these verses in context, we can see that what we are about to look at in verses 23-33 is in the middle of Paul addressing the church regarding their lack of understanding in the purpose behind what they are doing. There was no benefit being received in what they were doing, because of their lack of understanding; for we know that everything we receive from God is by faith, and faith requires having a confident expectation of something…there was no confident expectation here, because there was no purpose they were connected to behind what they were doing. People were getting together and filling their bellies…missing out on powerful divine provision that God had made available to them if they had understood the “why” in what they were doing. Paul, and even more so our Lord, wanted the people to receive.
The “why” and divine benefit God has for us to receive in taking communion is physical healing to our bodies (through eating of the body of Christ/the bread) and spiritual healing and forgiveness of sins (through the blood/the wine). These are 2 separate things not meant to be lumped together as one. There is physical benefit for us as well as spiritual benefit. Many Christian churches have been missing out on receiving the physical benefit God has for them in communion, because the churches are not “discerning the body of Christ” as Paul speaks about in verse 29. They are not seeing the distinguished difference between the body and the blood.
Paul wanted the church of Corinth to understand what they were doing so that they could exercise God’s faith within them to receive healing and renewal in their physical bodies each time they ate of the body of Christ and to also be reminded of the new covenant they were now beneficiaries of through the blood of Jesus Christ. God still wants US to be reminded of both of these truths today.
Let’s now break down verses 23-32 to rid ourselves of all religious misunderstandings so we can receive pure truth in our hearts and have confident expectation upon the Lord for what He has promised and already provided for us through Jesus Christ.
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
So let’s pause here…Paul shares with us that Jesus said, “This is my body, which is for YOU.” Jesus’ body was for US! Jesus goes onto say, “do this in remembrance of me.” Notice, he does NOT say, “do this in remembrance of your sin…” Churches have made communion such a religious experience focused on man and man’s shortcomings and it has become a powerless, somber, ritual, rather than a joyful celebration in putting our eyes on JESUS and being reminded of all He did for us and that we are now free from all sin, healed, made whole, made right with God, full of life, etc. because of Him. As we remember that Jesus took every sickness, disease, weakness and infirmity on the cross on our behalf, and PAID THE PRICE IN FULL WITH HIS BLOOD, we are reminded that none of these things have any right to our physical body anymore once we have been born-again in Jesus Christ, because he ransomed us and redeemed us with his blood.
Here are some verses that remind us of what Jesus accomplished on our behalf in his physical body:
[1Pe 2:24 NIV] 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” (Remember that this is healing of every kind — physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, financial…and not just healing of the symptoms, but healing and freedom from the curse that causes every symptom).
[1Co 7:23 NIV] 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings.
[Col 2:10-20 ESV] 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. 16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. 20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations–
[Eph 1:7 NIV] 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
No matter what area of our lives we are believing upon God in, these promises remind us that Jesus paid the price for all our sin. There was a price to be paid, and he paid it – for past, present and future sin. We are now free forevermore because of him…I especially love the phrase: “canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside nailing it to the cross.” SEE that!!! Get a vision of that!!! He nailed the record of your debts to the cross and all the legal demands the enemy held against you!!
Forgiveness for our sin does not give us a license to sin, because when we receive the amazing gift of God’s love and grace, we don’t WANT to sin anymore, but when we mess up, we can rest assured Jesus already paid the price and we remain in right standing with God at all times, able to continually and freely receive from him even in the middle of our mistakes (think about Abraham).
Now let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 11:25:
25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
First, we see there is a distinguished difference between the body and the blood…the blood represents our spiritual benefit in Christ and the new covenant we have in Christ. We are also given the “purpose” in verse 26 for communion in that we “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” In other words, we continue to put ourselves in remembrance of what Jesus did for us all until we see Him again so that we keep receiving Him and all He has provided for us, not only waiting until we get to heaven or until He returns to experience benefit from the gift of salvation. Salvation is meant to benefit our lives here on earth as we’ve also talked about plenty in class with the “I am Sozo” message.
Now onto the next part of the discussion…what is all this business about making sure we don’t take communion in an unworthy manner??? Should we be afraid to take communion? Does this mean we’d better make sure we have all our “ducks in a row” before taking communion? Remembering all our sin? No, no and NO!!!!! Religion has so taken all of this out of context and in doing so has ROBBED the body of Christ from receiving the benefits meant for us in partaking of communion.
First, let us be reminded that NONE of us are worthy except through the blood of the lamb, Jesus Christ. So, if this verse was talking about us making sure we come all “clean and perfect” to Jesus in character before taking communion, none of us could take communion!!! Paul is NOT talking to them about their sin or their character or telling them to examine what they did that day…In fact, he is saying the very opposite. God wants us to be Son-conscious when we take communion, not sin-conscious. Let’s look at the verse again:
27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.
Remembering the context in which Paul is speaking here and these verses following the prior ones where he addressed the people coming together and having no understanding about what they are doing…In this case, “unworthy” describes the action of eating and drinking. It is NOT describing the person who is eating or drinking. It is describing the MANNER of the eating and drinking itself. Paul was not saying that if you are an unworthy person, do not partake. This has been taught incorrectly in some churches and has turned something that was meant to be a blessing into a curse.
There’s just ONE thing that is the determining factor of whether or not we take communion in a worth or unworthy manner…are we discerning the body of Christ? That’s it!
We don’t have to be fearful that we had a bad day, that we sinned…every person who takes communion is a sinner. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. No one qualifies except through Christ alone. BUT, to receive the physical benefit of healing and wholeness in our bodies, we must be thinking on the body of Christ when we are taking communion. We must see ourselves already forgiven and welcomed by God, accepted in His presence and recognize and acknowledge Christ and that he died for us and was raised into new life…remembering what He did for us and all that is now ours in him, including healing to our physical bodies. We see benefit to us from His actual physical body into our physical body. THAT is what it means to discern the body of Christ.
Partaking in communion should be a celebration time between you and God…a close time where you feel so welcomed in His presence just as you are and freely connect with His love and His warm embrace as you remember the great love the Father showed you in sending you His son. And as far as the judgment that is mentioned that people bring on themselves when they don’t discern the body of Christ…that’s not saying that God is going to cause something bad to happen to those people…everyone already stands in judgment under the curse…Paul is simply saying that God wants us to receive redemption from the curse and we can’t do that without connecting to Jesus and seeing the physical benefit that is ours because of his death, burial and resurrection. If we do not discern the body of Christ and see ourselves as one with Him, sharing in His resurrected life, then we continue to commune with the curse rather than with the blessing that is ours in Christ.
Paul says there is one singular reason that many among you (Christians) are weak and sick and dying early…and it’s simply because they haven’t understood that Jesus gave his physical body for us to eat of often so we could receive benefit while we live here on this earth and are experiencing decay…taking communion helps to give us the longest and strongest life possible in our earth suits – free from sickness and disease so we can receive the promise of 120 years that is available to us and mentioned in Genesis 6:3.
Now here is the final part of discussion on the topic of communion to address and this too is quite important:
Are we to look at the bread and the juice or wine as a symbol or are we to believe we are actually eating and drinking from the literal body of Christ?
As always, let’s look to the word to give us truth…
[Jhn 6:54-58 NIV] 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
Let’s look specifically at the word Jesus used here when he said “eat” my flesh…there are three different words used in the Greek for “eat.” One can be used literally or figuratively (phago), another means to devour and consume, and then there is a 3rd one that very clearly means literally. This third word is trógó (Strong’s Concordance G5176). It means to: eat, gnaw, munch, crunch or chew.
Can you guess which word Jesus is using here? Yup, you guessed it! This word he uses here in John means he is telling us to eat, gnaw, munch, crunch and chew on his body! You can’t chew on a symbol! I also discovered in reading through the rest of the verses in this section that Jesus when he refers to the manna that our fathers ate in the Old Testament (John 6:58), does NOT use this same word!!! What??? Why not I wonder?? We know from reading about the Israelites in the Old Testament that they were literally fed manna each day, so why wouldn’t Jesus use this same word that means to literally eat? He instead chose to use the Greek word phago to describe their eating of the manna in the OT which means literally or figuratively. It appears He cared MORE about making it very clear to us that we are to literally eat of His body than He did about using that word to describe the manna they ate; perhaps because the manna they ate in the Old Testament was only a shadow of what was to come and to be provided in Christ!!
We don’t understand how the cracker and juice we eat becomes the literal body of Christ as we put it in our mouth and eat and drink of Christ; we just know that it does! We receive everything in the Word BY FAITH, so why should communion be any different?
I hope this all helps you to be encouraged to see that our God really really really wants us to be healthy and to know that there is a very REAL promise for us to receive divine health through partaking of communion as we discern the body of Christ.
SO keep some grape juice and crackers or bread on hand at home and enjoy communing often with Jesus…eat and drink of
His body and His blood and receive life in your whole being!
John 6:32-58 are great verses to mediate on as you do! Hear Jesus speaking to you personally as you receive LIFE into your physical body and are reminded also of the new covenant and every spiritual blessing that is yours in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
If you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, or you are experiencing ANY kind of sickness for that matter, I encourage you to start taking communion often. SEE Jesus on the cross and be reminded that He took that sickness on the cross and defeated it so that through Him you could LIVE long and live strong! As you eat his flesh and drink his blood, receive by faith that as Jesus says in John 6:51, the bread is his flesh, which he gave for the life of the world. We receive eternal life which lasts forever and includes our life now here on earth as well. Sickness and disease has no legal right anymore to those who are in Christ Jesus. We have been redeemed from the curse. (Gal 3:13) See yourself redeemed by the blood and freed from the curse every time you take communion. You are no longer condemned, ever, so never see yourself as lowly and unworthy, but instead see yourself as a co-heir in Christ, righteous and holy, blameless in God’s sight in Christ (Rom 8:1, 8:17). What Jesus did on the cross was enough! He did a finished work! If you think you haven’t done enough or need to do something more to “earn” God’s love and acceptance that is simply a lie from the enemy, and the truth is that what you are saying is that Jesus didn’t do enough. 🙁 Father God wants to see you healed even more than you do! He wanted it so much for you that He sent His only Son to give up His life so You could live. God wants to give us long, satisfying life and to show us His salvation: Psalm 91:14-16.