Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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by John D. Clark, Sr.
Communion is fellowship. The Greek word for communion, koinonia, can be, and is translated in several ways: “communion”, “fellowship”, and even “partnership”. So, the word “communion” refers to a sharing of something, especially one another’s feelings and thoughts. Paul described fellowship this way: “that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1Cor. 1:10).
Communion with God is only possible by the holy Spirit, and for us all to have that fellowship with Him, and with one another in Him, is the reason Jesus died. Jesus earnestly prayed that we would be made one, just as he and the Father are one (Jn. 17:11, 21). The Father and the Son were perfectly joined together in heart and mind, and Jesus died to make it possible for us to share that unity with them and each other.
Before this communion with God was made available on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), Christ Jesus occasionally provided for his disciples symbols of the communion with God which they would later experience. On the night before his crucifixion, for example, “when he had taken the cup and given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘All of you drink of it, for this is my blood, the blood of the new covenant, which is shed for the forgiveness of sins for many’ ” (Mt. 26:27–28). And lest his disciples misunderstand him and think that he was instituting another ceremony for them to observe, he quickly added that he would “no longer drink of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it with you in a new way in the kingdom of my Father” (Mt. 26:29). The communion of Christ is a spiritual experience, not a physical, ceremonial rite. The very last thing on Jesus’ mind was to institute another dead ceremony. The “Last Supper” was just a prophetic symbol of something the disciples could not understand until the Spirit came on the day of Pentecost.
Jesus spoke of drinking in a new way in the kingdom of God. The new way of drinking with God was “in spirit and in truth”. Paul explained that the kingdom of God is “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). And since the day the Spirit came, believers have enjoyed that fruit of the true Vine, “drinking” of the Spirit which Jesus serves us (1Cor. 12:13) and breaking the bread of fellowship which he creates among us (1Cor. 10:16–17).
The only reason Jesus served the cup and bread to his disciples at the “last supper” was that the communion in spirit which he wanted them to have was not available. Jesus had not yet been glorified, and so the Spirit had not yet been given (see Jn. 7:39). If Jesus could have had fellowship with his disciples, as he did with his Father, there would have been no point in passing around a cup of wine saying, “This is my blood . . . all of you drink of it.” On the day of Pentecost, when true communion with the Father became a reality for Jesus’ followers, there was no longer any need for a symbol of it.
The truth concerning Christianity’s “communion services” is that they are useless. The true blood of Christ, the blood which Jesus told us we must drink, has been poured out, and symbols of that feasting with God, whether they be symbols given by Moses or by Jesus, have served their wonderful purpose. To continue in them is to deny the reality of their fulfillment.
Our communion in the blood of Christ is our unity of heart and spirit, and the bread which we break is our receiving of one another’s testimony, “for we, being many, are one bread, and one body” (1Cor. 10:17). The “communion service” of Christianity is nothing at all but a useless work, a godless tradition that misses the whole point of Jesus’ actions and words at his last supper. And it is from such fleshly works that the blood of Christ will purge our conscience, if we are willing, so that our faith may undividedly rest upon Christ Jesus and his power to save.
The way of Christ is not a way of symbols, rituals, and ceremony. Symbolism was the Old Covenant manner of service to God. Now, the true light shines, and the holy, God-given Old Covenant shadows of that light have been fulfilled. To try to cling to them as if they still provided some spiritual benefit is for us to imply that Jesus alone is not sufficient, and it betrays a lack of faith and understanding on our part.
It is tragic that so many of God’s dear children are still acting out the Last Supper meal, as if the Spirit had not come. Worshipping with symbols, they are behaving as Old Testament servants of God, who were required to carry on symbolic rituals while they waited for a Christ who had not come.
When we drink of the Spirit and break the bread of fellowship in the body of Christ, we do, as Paul said, “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1Cor. 11:26). By worshipping in spirit rather than in the flesh, we prove that our conscience has been “purged from dead works to serve the living God”. But when we continue worshipping in symbols instead of in the Spirit, we show forth our own deadness to the things of God.
Jesus said that the Father is searching for someone who is willing to worship Him “in spirit and in truth.” If you are such a person, longing to please God but uncertain as to how to do it, God is looking for you and calling you to Himself. Heed that comforting call and be filled with the Spirit! And now, may “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.”