Why do we take Communion? Why do we participate every Sunday in this thing we call the Lord’s Supper? There are a lot of reasons. However, I want to concentrate on just one of them.
In the middle of a passage we often read at Communion time is a phrase that we probably don’t give enough attention to. It’s so familiar we sort of coast right over it. It says, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26 NIV)
According to this verse, whenever we eat the Lord’s Supper, we’re making a statement. We’re telling the world two things: 1) Jesus died, and 2) Jesus is coming back.
When we eat the bread and drink the cup, most of the time we concentrate on ourselves – our relationship to Christ, what we’ve done wrong during the last week and the areas we hope to improve in. We ask for forgiveness and the strength to overcome our temptations and faults. While looking inward is good and necessary, we also need to remember what we’re telling the world.
Why is it important to proclaim the Lord’s death? From the world’s point of view, what we do here is silly. It doesn’t make sense. Why celebrate somebody’s death? Though it may seem foolish, the truth is that it is only through Christ’s death that we can be reconciled to God. In this same letter where Paul tells us we proclaim the Lord’s death when we eat the Lord’s Supper, he writes, “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:1-3 NIV)
To put it plainly, if Jesus didn’t die, then we can’t be saved from the consequences of our sins. That’s why it’s important to proclaim His death.
We not only proclaim His death, we proclaim that He’s coming back. Why is that important for people to know? The writer of Hebrews puts it this way, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:27-28 NIV)
Jesus died to take away sin. He’s coming back to bring salvation. That’s what people need to know and that’s what we tell them when we eat the bread and drink the cup.