Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of June 18, 2006

Luke 22:19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

One of the most precious things we can do for the Lord is to participate in a communion service where the Lord is memorialized by our eating bread and drinking some wine. Some people think that this can be done individually and that the communion or participation is with the Lord alone. However, in the Bible, this is always done in a congregational setting. While Paul makes it clear that this should not be an actual meal, it is a symbolic meal that we eat together (see 1 Corinthians 11:33).

Christians have different ideas as to what the value of this symbolic meal is. Many think that the bread either becomes or is the actual body of the Lord, and that the wine either becomes or is the actual blood of the Lord. Others see the bread as symbolic of the Lord’s body and the cup as symbolic of the Lord’s blood. I have pondered this issue and feel that there is a good lesson in Bible interpretation here.

We often say that we read the Bible literally. However, that means that we understand any symbolism in the way that the writer intended. The Bible has a lot of poetic language. It uses similes (the man is like a lion) and it uses metaphors (the man is a lion). We can usually tell whether language is poetic by the context. So when we say that we read the Bible literally, we are really saying that we read the Bible trying to understand the literal message of the language which may in fact be symbolic.

When we look at the context of the Lord’s statement, “This is my body,” it could be argued that the bread is actually His body. That would make the bread sacred in some way and it would have value beyond just being a symbolic way of remembering the Lord. However, in the context, with the Lord sitting there in His body, it seems more reasonable that the bread symbolizes His body. Otherwise He would have had two bodies at the Last Supper. Then the bread does not become sacred in the sense that it puts away sin or makes us more holy than we were before we took it. There are some who think that we cannot be saved apart from taking communion. They believe that the bread and wine actually forgive sins. But the Bible makes it clear that we are forgiven because of the value of the actual blood of Christ when we believe in the Lord Himself who died to save us (See Acts 13:38-39). Ceremony cannot save us, only faith in Christ can save us. But the saved have ceremonies that express their worship after they are saved.

Some feel that John 6 requires us to literally eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Lord to be saved. They feel that taking the communion bread and wine does that if the bread and wine become the body and blood of the Lord. However, the communion service is not mentioned in John 6 starting at verse 47. The statement that is being explained is the statement that believing on the Lord gives us everlasting life. The Lord being bread is compared to the miracle of manna in the wilderness and not to the bread at the Lord’s Supper. So again, context would seem to indicate that we eat the Lord’s body and drink His blood when we trust in Him. That makes Him a part of us in a spiritual sense.

I personally feel the need to be at the Lord’s table partaking of the Lord’s supper as often as possible. I feel that should be a priority in our lives. A wise old preacher told me that he never knew if he held his meetings where the Lord wanted him to hold them or if he visited the people that the Lord wanted him to visit. But he said, “ I know I am in the will of the Lord when I am at His table remembering Him.” He knew that the bread and wine did not save but that they were for the saved. He knew that apart from this simple symbolic meal, we would lose our focus on the Lord and begin to focus on ourselves. We need to understand that this remembrance meal is important, but we also need to understand that it doesn’t save.

Bruce Collins

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