New Covenant and Holy Communion
“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 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.” 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.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 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. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 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. So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 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. (I Cor 11: 23-34)
The New Testament Church has two sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion. Baptism is taken by a believer to express his obedience of faith once in life time. However, Holy Communion has to be taken as often as possible. Some churches like Roman Catholic Church celebrates Eucharist every day; Brethren Assemblies every Sunday; other churches practice this once or twice a month or once in three months.
The term covenant used in the Bible has a unique meaning. Covenant in the Bible means an agreement between two unequal partners. While contract and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is done generally between equal partners, the biblical covenant is between God the creator and human being who are just His creation. Hence, God himself takes initiative for the introduction and implementation of the covenant. Bible scholars consider there are several covenants like: Garden of Eden, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David. Generally, the elements of covenant are: agreement, oath or promise, sacrifice, and feast
Holy Communion is the symbol of New Covenant which could be termed as the Everlasting covenant. The everlasting covenant comprises of Law of righteousness, Law of grace, Law of Spirit, Law of Liberty and faith. The Old Testament Covenant had circumcision and Passover as important components, while the New Covenant has Baptism and Holy Communion.
The disciples of Lord Jesus Christ are called to celebrate this sacrament. This is an ordinance or commandment given by God. Christian life is based of faith and which is demonstrated by obedience. A Christian who ignores or neglects the participation in the Holy Communion is disobedient. Obedience is the demonstration of our humility. If we love Him we obey his commandments (John 14:15)
Lord has commanded to observe Holy Communion in remembrance of Him (I Cor 11:24). The wages of Sin is death (Romans 6:23). Lord Jesus Christ gave himself as sacrifice, died, buried and rose again from death. By His death Jesus fulfilled the Law. He did not destroy or break or violate the Law. Through His fulfillment we find salvation from our sins in Him alone. Jesus Christ fulfilled the old covenant and its laws when: He lived a sinless life; became the sacrifice for our sins and was raised from the dead defeating sin and death. Also, Jesus Christ became our: High Priest, Sacrifice and Temple. Jesus death and resurrections means: Reconciliation with God; Redemption, Forgiveness, Eternal life, Citizenship of Kingdom of God, Royal Priesthood and many other blessings. We rejoice and celebrate all these spiritual blessings he earned for us by His sacrifice.
It is wise to observe the Holy Communion after examining ourselves (I Cor 11:28).
In the Upper Room Judas participated in the Holy Communion without truthfulness and integrity. As soon as he received bread, Satan entered him and he went out to betray Lord Jesus (John 13:27). Paul warned the believers in Corinth that some became weak and sick as they participated in the Holy Communion without proper self-examination. First, we have to examine with our conscience. If our heart condemns us, then we have to seek forgiveness from God (I John 3:20). Second, we have to look into the Word of God that is mirror to see our shortcomings, mistakes, deviations, waywardness, lethargy, negligence, and disobedience (James 1:23). Third, we should allow the Holy Spirit to convict us, rebuke us, and teach us.
Holy Communion is the act of proclamation of His death (I Cor 11:26). It is a visual demonstration of the New Covenant. In the Old Testament, Moses commanded the children of Israel to observe Passover. While they observe Passover, parents were expected to teach the children the Mighty deeds of God Jehovah, who redeemed them from Egyptian slavery. Similarly, partaking Holy Communion is the proclamation of the deliverance of disciples of Lord Jesus Christ from slavery of Sin, Satan, World and Death. This is also an invitation for those who do not believe in Lord Jesus Christ.to come into the Fold of the Good Shepherd.
Holy Communion is not a private meal; it is participation in the body of Christ. The Church is the covenant community that has been cleansed by the blood of Lord Jesus Christ. The Church is also termed as Family of God. All believers are equal irrespective of any human hierarchy. All are equal in the presence of God as we partake in the Lord’s table. Christian disciples are numerous but they are one body – the body of Lord Jesus Christ (I Cor 10:16-17). Christians consider themselves as heirs of Abraham by faith and inheritors of promises given to Abraham (Gen 12:2). However, Christians are also inheritors of the call of Abraham (Gen 12:1). The call is to forget the ethnic/racial identity (nation); cultural and linguistic identity (people) and caste and clan identity (family) that includes family background. For these three identities people sacrifice themselves and even kill others. However, as disciples of Lord Jesus Christ, we are beyond all these human temporal identities and have a superior identity in Lord Jesus Christ.
VI Anticipate Second Coming
The phrase “I shall not eat it until” (Luke 22:16) implies that Christ expected the eating of the Passover (Holy Communion) to continue during His absence until He would partake of it again at the eschatological marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:9). As in the days of Noah and Lot (Matt 24:37; Luke 17:28) people will be obsessed with themselves and in their personal projects and lose focus of the purpose of life and His imminent coming.
The celebration of Holy Communion has Past, Present and Future in focus. We remember the Cross and Empty Tomb; obey, examine, proclaim, and participate in the Present; and look forward into future with Hope for His Second Coming. What a privilege to be celebrating the feast at His Table.