Assembling to eat the unleavened bread and drink the fruit of the vine in remembrance of Jesus was a big deal to His first followers. Jesus personally started it just before His death, burial, and resurrection; and, in so doing, He gave a model of worship with Him at the center that included singing and prayer (Matthew 26:26-30). It only makes sense that those baptized after the gospel was first proclaimed in Jerusalem “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).
We see this devotion to the “Lord’s Supper” continuing as the gospel spread throughout the world. Luke described the Sunday assembly of Christians in Troas as “when we were gathered together to break bread”, with the Apostle Paul staying in town just to be there for it (Acts 20:5-7). When writing to the Corinthians, Paul would refer to “when you come together as a church” with the understanding that it was to participate in the Lord’s Supper (I Corinthians 11:17-20).
Yet, Corinth also shows us just eating the bread and drinking the cup isn’t enough: Paul said, “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper you eat” (I Corinthians 11:20). Why? “For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk” (I Corinthians 11:21). The result was division, humiliation of the needy, and a failure to wait for and share with one another. This was unworthy of what the Lord’s Supper represents because it was against who the Lord Jesus is!
To truly be the Lord’s Supper, our focus must be on Jesus. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (I Corinthians 11:26). When our focus is right, the Lord’s Supper reminds us of how much Jesus loves us. It allows us to experience His presence and look forward to His return (Mark 14:26, Luke 22:18). Instead of dividing us, it brings us together: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (I Corinthians 10:17).
Proclaiming the Lord’s death. Remembering His love. Experiencing His presence. Uniting with one another. No wonder the first Christians met every Sunday to celebrate it! May we be just as devoted to the Lord’s Supper and in a way worthy of the Lord Jesus it proclaims!