What the institutional western church calls “communion” is so much more than that, and I believe that it is a great part of the day to day remembering of Jesus. That was He calling us to do when we break bread, and drink the cup of wine (or grape juice). (Luk 22:19-20).
A pastor friend was taken aback when I said that I frequently sat with Jesus at His table in my house, sometimes in the morning, and sometimes in the evening, and sadly, some days not at all. Seminary seems to have added protocol to “communion”. A lot seems to have gotten tacked on to 1 Cor 11:20-34. In both the passages in Luke and in 1 Corinthians 11, it seems to be the focus is on remembering Jesus. The passage seems to caution that if your focus is on eating, or maybe on getting drunk, that is not a good time to remember Him. But we have taken it to an extreme, in religious protocol, and forgotten the heart of Jesus, instituting a covenant in His own flesh and blood, because of His heart for us.
The first thing not to skip over is that it is a covenant. The second thing not to skip over is Who the parties are that entered into the covenant.
Covenant is a term that is not used much today. And the Old Testament style of covenant is not practiced anywhere I know of (but then again, I am in the US, and aside from Canada and Mexico, I have only been outside of the US once, and that was to Europe.)
A covenant had at its heart an oath, and not just any oath. It was between 2 parties, and everyone that they represented, and the “everyone” was not limited by time. This is seen at a much smaller human scale in the covenant between David and Jonathan (1 Sam 23:18) Covenants generally involved tearing or cleaving the flesh of an animal, along with the oath, “may this be done to me if I ever break this covenant”. But, it wasn’t only solemn. Covenants were made for blessing. They were made so that the parties would bless each other, and it would go on and on. In good times, and in bad. And this anticipated continuing blessing was celebrated with a feast, the covenant meal. (This is why marriages are still referred to as a covenant, and are celebrated with a meal or reception – receiving of the other party, their families, their friends …)
What is important to notice in the covenant between David and Jonathan is the effects down the line. As Malcolm Smith goes into, in great detail, in his book “The Power of the Blood Covenant”, after Jonathan is dead. David in 2 Sam 9:3 ff asks if there is someone of the house of Saul to whom he might show kindness. And he is told about Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son. Now, as Malcolm Smith explains, in those days, the customs of the nations were for a new king to wipe out the family of the old king, and to wipe the memory of them from the land, by seizing all of their holdings. But what does David do. He searches out Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, a cripple, and he treats him just as he would have treated Jonathan. He promises him that he would always eat at the kings table. And David restores all of his inheritance to him. And in doing so, David makes himself vulnerable to Mephibosheth challenging David’s kingship, as Mephibosheth is the heir of Saul. He does that for the love that was represented in the convenant.
Malcolm Smith goes into how the covenant that Jesus made was with The Father. The Father represented the Godhead, the Trinity, and Jesus, being a man, represented humanity. The Father promised to love all those that Jesus represented just as He loves Jesus. And Jesus promised that all whom He represented would love The Father as He did (though Malcolm Smith doesn’t go into that side as much.)
So, what does that have to do with Jesus, day by day? Tonight, I was celebrating the Lord’s supper at home, and as I went to take the bread, and asking Holy Spirit to focus me on Jesus, I understood that Holy Spirit is essential to receiving the covenant, and understanding Jesus’ heart in it. In John 16:13-14 as Jesus speaks of Holy Spirit, Jesus speaks of how the Holy Spirit will take of His things (including His body broken for us), and will disclose/speak/reveal them to us.
I have been coming to the Lord’s table at home for a few years. Malcolm Smith says that what is happening from the covenant doesn’t need to be understood with the mind, just received, with the heart. So, I have admitted not understanding so many times, by my actions as well as my words. So many times, I want to focus on how He suffered for my healing. But, I have come to realize that I am remembering my need, and my inadequacy to be my own savior, but I am not remembering Jesus. Similarly, I know that the blood, His blood is life to me (Lev 17:11, Jn 15:5). Again, I am remembering my need and my inadequacy. But, He is patient. And He also wants me to know that without Him, I can’t even remember Him, because, I only know Him by His grace, and His revelation. So, He knows that, and doesn’t sweat it. And He has brought me to ask Holy Spirit, without shame, to remember that this is part of the covenant, that He wants me to be loved by The Father like He is, and He wants me to love The Father the way He does.
That is His heart. That is why Holy Spirit came.
And, I look forward to receiving the love of The Father, and loving The Father like Jesus, day by day. I was going to write “And it started today.” But it didn’t. It was in the heart of Jesus and The Father from the creation of the world. I only realized it deeper tonight.