What is so significant about Communion that we should consider taking it as often as possible, even at home? What did Jesus say about Communion?
So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:30-35)
The people in Jesus’ day had a great deal of difficulty understanding what Jesus was saying about Communion. The same may be said today, even in the Church. Is Jesus truly present in Communion?
Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:43-51)
We cannot overstate the importance of Communion in our Christian lives. From what Jesus has said, Communion is not optional.
So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)
If not ordained, can we celebrate Holy Communion ourselves? How we answer those questions depends on whether or not we believe in the priesthood of all believers. However, any priesthood should not be taken lightly and the Communion should not be so taken. Home Communion is not just some social get-together.
An especially important aspect of the Communion service is that it requires self-examination. The Apostle Paul writes:
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)
Thus, a time of prayer and reflection must be provided before taking Communion. In celebrating Communion we are both fellow-shipping with God and fellow believers. Fellowship requires honesty. The Apostle John writes:
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10)
What format should we follow? An excellent scripture to read is from 1 Corinthians Chapter 11:
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
As you read this passage out loud, as you say “this is my body” when breaking the bread, think of Jesus being broken on the cross. See yourself also as broken before God. When we are broken we are in a better position to receive forgiveness and healing. When you say “this cup is the new covenant in my blood,” and as you drink from the cup, believe that the blood of Jesus cleanses you from all sin and also heals you in body, mind, and spirit. The healing part comes from the following scripture from Isaiah:
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
Holy Communion is offered to us freely by the Lord Jesus. Let us properly prepare to receive it by faith, knowing that Jesus offers himself to us through our participation. He will change us from glory to glory.
Are we ready to receive the life of our Lord Jesus Christ within us? If so, why not do so daily?
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:51)
He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. (John 6:56-58)
Holy Communion is a life-giving force – not just any life, but the life of Christ.
See Eucharistic Theology.