Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me” (John 13:1-20).
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:26-29).
On the night before Jesus was sacrificed on the cross, he celebrated a very special feast with twelve men who were close to him, the Pesaḥ (פֶּסַח), the Passover. A very important feast to the Jewish nation, celebrating Yahweh freeing their ancestors from slavery in Egypt. The Lord humbling the Pharoah and his nation through ten plagues, the tenth being the most devastating. For on the night of the tenth plague, the Lord descended and struck down the firstborn of every household in Egypt. But those houses who had sacrificed a lamb, and had smeared its blood on their doorposts, the Lord passed over, and the firstborn was spared (Exodus 12).
It is a feast that consists of many traditions, such as the Israelite people eating bitter herbs dipped in saltwater, which represent the tears of their ancestors when they were slaves, and the eating of unleavened bread, for the Israelites on the night of the first Passover, were to eat in haste, ready to leave at any moment.
During the celebration of this feast, the King of kings took on a servant’s role, and washed the nasty feet of his twelve followers. That’s right–twelve. Though Judas was in the very act of betraying him, it never says that Jesus skipped over him nor neglected him. Meaning, our Lord washed the feet of the very man who betrayed him. Additionally, this same man was present, when Jesus broke the bread and passed the cup, initiating the very first Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Supper, the Holy Communion, the Eucharist, is a very special time. It’s a remembrance, of our Savior’s body who was broken on the cross, of his blood that was shed, of his painful and humiliating death. It’s a celebration, that he did not stay dead! For three days later, he rose from the grave, conquering sin! It is a time of reflection and recommitment (1 Corinthians 11), examining ourselves and asking the Lord for forgiveness. It is a time of fellowship, coming together as a body to proclaim that we believe that Jesus is Lord.
The Lord’s Supper is both an altar, honoring the Lamb who was the most perfect sacrifice. He who took our place, so that the Lord may passover the hearts of those who have been immersed in the blood of His Son on the Day of Judgement, being spared by death. And it is also a table, a feast to be celebrated by those who believe they are free from sin.
Food is a great thing that brings people together, one reason why numerous churches have so many potlucks. For everyone has to eat, and a table brings people into close proximity to each other, forcing people to either stare at each other awkwardly, or to talk and build relationships. The Lord’s Supper is such an occasion, and the neat thing is, everyone’s invited. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that you must be a Christian or must be baptized to partake in this sacrament. The Bible mentions how believers would come together on the Lord’s Day to break bread (Acts 20:7), how believers would come together daily to break bread (Acts 2:42-46), and even how the Corinthians at one time abused the Communion (1 Corinthians 11), but nowhere does it say that only Christians are invited to this table, for it appears that all are welcome to the Lord’s table.
Even on the night of its origin, Judas, the man in the very act of betraying our Lord, was allowed to partake in this feast. For when Jesus took the cup he said, “Drink of it, all of you” (Matthew 26:27). He didn’t say, “Drink of it, everyone except Judas,” “all of you”. And though it’s unclear when exactly Judas left during the feast, it is clear that he was still present when Jesus presented the wine: In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this (Luke 22:20-23).
Therefore church, let us as followers of Christ, welcome all to his table. Let us not hold it as hostage, forcing people to be baptized, or to be baptized into our congregation or into our denomination in order to partake it with us. Let us be open, as our Lord is open. No, nonbelievers may not appreciate it as we do, but it gives us a moment to explain what the bread and juice mean and why it’s so important to us, a moment to share our faith and love. No, our sons and daughters may not be ready to be baptized yet, but let us not exclude them from this very special moment. One of my favorite times when I took Communion, was during a Catholic’s Mass. For me, as a Protestant, was invited to celebrate with brothers and sisters who believe very differently than me, but who still proclaim that Jesus is Lord.
I’ve taken Communion with both grape juice and wine, with leavened and unleaved bread. I’ve broken the bread and eaten the small convenient bite pieces. I’ve had my own cup for Communion and have shared one. I’ve taken Communion on Sundays and Saturdays. I’ve even taken communion with saltine crackers and white grape juice, celebrating our Lord with brothers and sisters through the internet during this time of the coronavirus. Though I have my preference in how I prefer to take Communion, it’s been truly a blessing getting to celebrate it in many different ways, proclaiming with brothers and sisters across the country that Jesus is Lord!
Jesus was the one who instituted the Lord’s Supper; however, he never said that this is the one and only way to take it. For just is it represents sacrifice, celebration, remembrance, being both an altar and a table, so too is it okay to have different traditions surrounding it. If your congregation is too poor to afford grape juice every Sunday and choose to celebrate the Lord’s Supper with water, go for it. If you prefer to celebrate the Lord’s Supper like they did in Israel with wine, or if alcohol bothers you, with grape juice instead, go for it. Or if you prefer to practice it once a month so that is doesn’t become mundane, or every Sunday so that you have that weekly reminder, go for it. (Though it’s not a salvation issue, I do encourage every believer to practice the Lord’s Supper in some form. And that no matter when we celebrate it, that we should take time daily to remember the cross.) Communion is much more than making sure that we say the right words or having a prayer, bread, prayer, juice, it’s about coming together as a Church in celebration of Jesus.
Therefore church, it’s not a sin if you have traditions surrounding this practice, for many churches have very special and neat traditions involving this time, but let us not hold them up on the same level as we do Scripture. If your church celebrates this feast one way and another church another, don’t bash them. If a young person messes up and says the prayer for the juice before the bread, don’t throw a fit. The Lord’s Supper should not be something that we should be fighting about. It is a time of togetherness; therefore, let us quit allowing the Enemy to use this very special practice to divide God’s church. And let us not neglect anyone from joining us in this celebration, for all should be welcome to approach the table of Christ.
If Paul could call the Corinthians brothers and sisters, a church who had a man sleeping with his mother-in-law, had believers fighting over spiritual gifts and were having chaotic gatherings, had followers sleeping with temple prostitutes, and had believers getting drunk during Communion, along with other issues, so too should we be able to call each other brothers and sisters, no matter if we take Communion with wine or grape juice, with leavened bread or unleaved bread, with one cup or many, on Sundays or daily.
To whomever reads this post, here is your invitation–
You are invited, to the Lord’s table!