Bible Study 3-17-2020
Communion Bible Study
The gospel is the good news of God’s love expressed to us in covenant. To understand Communion, we must understand something that is at the heart of God’s dealings with man since the Garden of Eden. We must understand covenant. The idea of covenant and especially blood covenant is the foundation for everything God did to bring the man back into relationship with himself.
When man sinned, God killed an animal to provide a temporarily adequate covering for his sin. In doing so, He put the idea of blood covenant into man’s world. Starting with the animals sacrificed to clothe Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:21) to the covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15 & 17) we see God using covenant to have relationship with men.
The Meal Covenant In The Scripture
A covenantal practice was to end with a meal that declared that the covenant was valid and now functional in the lives of those involved. The meal showed the covenant as the two representatives would eat of the same bread and drink of the same wine, telling the world that they were one. (Genesis 26:28-31; 31:44-46)
The covenant that God made with Abraham came into effect with a covenant meal, at which time Abraham killed the calf and Sarah baked her cakes; the angel of the Lord, and two angels ate and drank the meal Abraham and Sarah had prepared (Genesis 18:6-8). The meal was the signal, for the covenant promise made long ago was about to be fulfilled and Sarah would have her miracle son.
The Israelites were delivered from Egypt and slavery in fulfillment of one of the promises of the covenant with Abraham, but the deliverance was in fact a little covenant that centered in the Passover meal (Exodus 12:1-27). The door of each home had been smeared with the blood of the lamb that they were about to eat. As they walked through the bloody door, they were declaring their covenant status with God, sheltered by Him from the judgment that was to fall on Egypt; by eating the lamb, they became one with the covenant sacrifice. Their being taken from Egypt and formed into the people of God took place in a covenant meal.
The covenant made at Sinai, which we now call the old covenant, recorded in Exodus 24, came into effect when the covenant meal was eaten with God. The amazing sight is recorded in verses 9-11 of that chapter, which tell us, “Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel… So they saw God, and they ate and drank.”
God and man sat down and ate together! This was the making of the old covenant, and we must anticipate something even far more wonderful in the new and better covenant.
On the eve of His death Jesus instituted the covenant meal of the new covenant.
- And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
- Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20)
The Old Covenant Provision
If we are going to understand what the communion is to us, we must have some understanding of what Passover was to the Hebrew people. If we were reading the story of Exodus, we’ll see that a dinner has just become a central part of the story. Why? The answer is covenant. All blood covenants had certain elements that were part of the process. One of those elements was a covenant meal.
During the first Passover, they killed the lamb and put the blood on the doorposts. This caused the destroyer to pass over their families because God said, “And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you…” (Exodus 12:13)
The blood was for the people’s forgiveness. The blood covered the people’s sins and appeased the righteous requirements of God.
But what did they do inside the house? They ate the roasted lamb and the unleavened bread (Exodus 12:8). This was to give them strength for the journey. It was not natural strength that they received. It was supernatural.
All who followed the Lord’s instructions were delivered from the plague of death that night, but that was not all of the Passover meal’s benefit. Psalm 105:37 tells us that when He brought them out (the very next day), there was not one in the estimated two and a half to three million people who were sick or unable to travel: “He brought them out with silver and gold; and among His tribes there was not one who stumbled.” That word stumbled in the Hebrew language means literally “to be feeble, weak, cast down, or decayed.”
In the natural, a group of that size would have its share of people who were suffering from disease and degeneration of body, who would not be in any shape to make an exhausting trip like the one that lay before them. So there must have been something miraculous that took place from the time they partook of the lamb the previous evening to the time of departure. The blood broke the power of the plague and death, and the body of the lamb imparted physical health and strength to these people.
We know that this lamb was a mere shadow of the real substance. So if the body of a “shadow lamb” could bring such supernatural results, how much more the body of the true “substance lamb” our Lord Jesus Christ!
The Lord’s Supper as Confirming the Covenant
1 Corinthians 5:7 says, “…For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.” Jesus Christ is considered the final Passover Lamb – the final sacrifice to break the power of the curse and death.
If you take time to study the Passover meal, you find that certain elements, particularly a portion of bread and a glass of wine, were always set aside in recognition of the coming Messiah. However, Jesus took these very elements and handed them to His disciples saying, “…Take, eat; this is My body,” and “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)
He’s telling them that from now on, they won’t partake of the Passover celebration to remember the great deliverance from Egypt, but to remember the finished work accomplished by Him for our deliverance from sin and all its evil consequences. Moreover, they are to believe that as they partake of the elements of the meal, they also partake, in a special way, of the powerful effects of His blood (which breaks the power of sin and its curse) and His body (which took our infirmities and carried away our diseases). That Body and Blood have overcome, and bring to each of us that same victory.
It should be clear that the blood and the body have two different applications. This is consistent throughout the Bible.
- The prophet Isaiah said, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…” (Isaiah 53:4). In the Hebrew, the words translated as “griefs” (choliy) and “sorrows” (mak’ob) are mistranslated in several English Bibles. The correct translation is “diseases” and “pains,” respectively. The Young’s Literal Translation states that, “Surely our sicknesses He hath borne, and our pains – He hath carried them…” This verse is quoted by Matthew in the New Testament, translated this way, and is applied directly to a context where physical illness is the subject at hand.
- Matthew 8:17 says, “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” In the Greek, “infirmities” is “astheneia” and it means bodily weaknesses. So we can see very clearly that Isaiah was saying that the Messiah would take upon His own body, our bodily weaknesses, sicknesses, and pains. In other words, Jesus bore not just our sins, but also our bodily weaknesses, sicknesses and pains. This is what some writers called the “double cure.”
- David described the double cure this way, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases.” (Psalm 103:2-3). Notice that His benefits include the forgiveness of our sins as well as the healing of our diseases.
Healing, like forgiveness, is not a promise. It is the blood-bought right of Christians. When Jesus took our punishment on the cross, it did not just bring us forgiveness, it also brought us healing.
So, Communion is the covenant meal of the “New Covenant in the blood of Jesus.” It’s God’s delivery system by which every good provision and blessing that Christ won for us at the cross is released in our lives. It is a time of Jesus giving to us, a time of us receiving from Him, and a time of enjoying the Lords love for us through a consciousness of His finished work.
So the next time you hold the bread in your hand, see Jesus at the scourging post. See Him taking the stripes for you. See one stripe after another landing mercilessly on His body for the healing of whatever ailment or sickness is holding your body captive. Tell yourself, “Surely He has borne my sicknesses and carried my pains.” That is how you discern the Lord’s body when you partake of the Lord’s Supper. And when you discern the Lords body like this, strength and health are your portion.
And when you drink of the cup, be conscious that because the Son of God paid the penalty for your sins, you have been completely forgiven and made righteous. Partake, rejoicing that the blood of Jesus has given you right standing before God so that you can always come boldly into His presence, and find His grace and mercy to help you at every point of need (Hebrews 4:16)!