Holy Communion is a very important sacrament to Christians. Jesus established the Holy Communion Sacrament as He ate the last supper with His disciples. Jesus instituted each of the sacraments through His own personal example…
The Significance of the Holy Communion
(adapted from a sermon by Pr Simon Chin)
There are three sacraments in the True Jesus Church namely Water Baptism Sacrament, Foot-Washing Sacrament, and the Holy Communion Sacrament. A sacrament is a religious rite with spiritual significance; more importantly the spiritual significance pertains to salvation.
From the teachings in the Bible, Water Baptism and Foot-Washing as well as Holy Communion are sacraments because of following reasons.
First, a sacrament is instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. True Jesus Church holds the belief that baptism is a sacrament, for the Lord Jesus was Himself baptised. Foot-Washing is a sacrament, for He washed the feet of the disciples. He established the Holy Communion Sacrament as He ate the last supper with His disciples. Jesus instituted each of the sacraments through His own personal example of being baptised, His conducting of foot-washing and of Holy Communion.
Second, Jesus Christ Himself gave the command to the disciples to go and do likewise, to perform each of the three sacraments as He had done. From the verses in the Bible- Mark 16:16; John 13:17; I Corinthians 11:26, this can be determined.
Third, the performance and receiving of these sacraments bear significance pertaining to salvation. In the Baptism Sacrament, one’s sins are forgiven because of the power of the cleansing blood of Christ Jesus; in the Foot-Washing Sacrament, one has a part with Him; and in partaking of the Holy Communion Sacrament, one abides in Christ, and He in him.
The Sacrament of the Holy Communion bears three significance according to the bible.
a. Remembering the Lord’s Death
A Christian partakes in the Holy Communion in remembrance of the Lord’s death. It is of utmost importance for him to recognise the grace of God in that Christ died for him. Christ’s marvellous grace is granted because He died for men when all were still sinners. By that, the love of God for all mankind is demonstrated.
“ But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5: 8 – 10)
The death of the Jesus on the cross is supremely unique in significance than that of any other man or saint. It is only through His death that salvation grace is given to all men. For Jesus only is fully righteous and sinless. In the perfect righteousness of God, He is the only sacrifice by His death on the cross, effective to redeem the sins of the world.
To many, the scene of His death remains vivid up to this day: Jesus Christ hanging on the cross, the people mocking Him, sour wine being offered to Him, the manifold blasphemies and disdain at the foot of the cross.
When Jesus received the sour wine and drank of the bitter cup, it was symbolic of his sufferings for sinners. The greatest realisation that one ought to have on hindsight is that Jesus had to suffer and accomplish the death for redemption of men, symbolised by His drinking of the bitter cup that the Father had given Him. At the moment of His excruciating pain and agonizing suffering, He felt the full brunt of the weight of sin upon Him. That was the moment when He cried out:
“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” – “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)
At that moment, God forsook Jesus because He became sin on our behalf.
Sooner after that, Jesus said “It is finished!” Then He bowed His head and gave up His spirit, thus accomplishing the work of being the propitiation for sins.
Jesus, ‘made a little lower than the angels’, bore the punishment for sins and tasted death (Heb. 2:9). He removed iniquities, having become the propitiation by His blood, so that men can become the righteousness of God. By His death, His blood saved men from the wrath of God and reconciled him to God. This is the grace that is given when Jesus died on the cross.
Believers today remember this grace and resolve to live for Christ. This is realised when the church congregation remembers the Lord’s death in the Holy Communion Sacrament and believers partake of the bread and cup.
b. To Partake of the Body and Blood of Christ
Another aspect of the sacramental mystery in the Holy Communion is that one partakes of the body and blood of Christ. This is important for it is the sacramental significance of the Holy Communion.
Paul writes that:
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16)
The verse states that when one partakes of the Holy Communion, he partakes of the body and blood of Christ. Being blessed to eat of Christ’s body and to drink of His blood enables one to be kept in the grace of salvation and his spiritual life to be vibrant.
Being freely given this grace, a believer does not need to suffer death on the cross nor pay a heavy price; that price had already been paid by Jesus Christ. All he needs to do is to believe, repent and be baptised in His name, and thereafter keep God’s commandments. He shall inherit the joy of eternal life.
Conversely, one is able to take the Holy Communion Sacrament when he abides in God’s grace. In partaking of Jesus’ body and blood, he abides in Jesus and has the life of Christ in him. This enables him to have the hope of entering the kingdom of heaven when Christ comes again. The hope of eternal life is promised by Jesus Himself to participants of the Holy Communion Sacrament, for He said:
“Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” (John 6:53 – 56)
Thus, one has the hope of eternal life to be realised on the last day when he eats of His flesh and drinks of His blood in the Holy Communion Sacrament. The grace given to one who believes in Him is that he shall be raised up on the last day to put on a spiritual body and to enter into heaven.
Notwithstanding the disputes and debates over the significance of the Holy Communion Sacrament in the history of the Christian church, True Jesus church holds fast to the truth that was revealed to Apostle Paul by the Holy Spirit – according to the promise of the Lord, those who partake of the Holy Communion shall have the life of Jesus in them and the hope of being raised up to everlasting life. This is beyond the question of worthiness for no one is actually worthy at all. But the marvellous grace of Jesus had been lovingly and mercifully extended to everyone who believes.
A Time to Reflect on Our Faith
Finally, conducting and participation in the Holy Communion Sacrament also presents every believer with an occasion to reflect on his faith in God. How does one respond to the love of the Lord? Has he faithfully kept His commandments? Does he truly love God with all his heart, his mind, his strength and his soul? And has one loved his neighbour as himself.
When Holy Communion Sacrament is ministered, one has the opportunity to search his heart and may ask himself why he is still so troubled over the things of the world when he already has the bountiful grace of the Lord. He may ask also why he is so faithless in his discipleship to the Lord. Many a time in such occasions of reflection, he realises that he has not loved Christ fully or loved Him enough, and that he has not been obedient to the word of God nor conducted his life according to the will of the Lord.
Thus the Holy Communion offers one an opportunity for him to reflect and repent from his weaknesses. For as he searches his heart, he realises his weaknesses, wrongdoings, imperfections, faithlessness, lack of love for others, lack of love to God, disobedience, and know that he has fallen short of the glory of God. When he reflects on his faith and comes before God with a broken spirit and penitent heart, God shall grant him grace so that he may overcome all his weaknesses and fulfill His will.
This faithful saying is worthy of all acceptance that the significance of the sacrament of the Holy Communion is to partake of the flesh and the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is also to remember His death for men to redeem them from sin. Whenever the Holy Communion is served, it is the opportunity also for believers of Christ Jesus in the congregation to reflect on their faith.