A Study of Our Lord's Memorial to His Death on the Cross


"For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." 

1 Corinthians 11:26



One of the memorials that Christ has instructed Christians to regularly practice is that of the Lord's Supper (1 Cor 11:2; referred to as an ‘ordinance’ or commandment). This Supper pictures many spiritual truths that apply to our lives now that we are saved - most importantly being the remembrance of Christ's death for us, and the price of our sin on His cross.

The Lord's Supper focuses our lives back on the basis of our salvation - the substitutionary death of our Saviour in our place.

The purpose of this lesson is to acquaint the Christian with what the Bible teaches about the Lord's Supper, its importance, and the attitude with which it should be experienced, and conducted.


The Importance of the Lord's Supper


1 Corinthians 11:26 says that when a Christian eats the Lord's supper, " do shew the Lord's death till he come." Its primary importance is to bring to remembrance the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Luke 22:19 says, "...this do in rememberance of me." It is intended to bring our attention back to what Jesus did for us on the cross.

We are told in 1 Corinthians 11:24 that Christ's body was broken for us. Not only are we to remember His death, but also His suffering. The breaking of bread in the supper pictures the breaking of His body! It does NOT continue the same sacrifice for there is NO further sacrifice needed (read Heb 10:5-14; and John 19:30)!

The blood, which is able to cleanse us from our sin and save our souls (Rom 3:24,25), is pictured (not recreated) in the cup from which we drink during the memorial. That blood was shed for us for the remission of (the taking away of) our sins (Heb 9:22).


The Elements of the Lord's Supper as Listed in John 6:53-63


Some religions teach that the body and the blood of Christ are really consumed when eating the Lord’s Supper, but that teaching is definitely not Scriptural.

When Jesus spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood in John 6:53-63, He was very careful to explain that He was NOT speaking literally. John 6:63 tells us that the words that Christ was speaking "are spirit." They were not to physically eat Him, but rather to partake of Him spiritually, to partake of His finished work on the cross. No one ate His body literally then, and no one is to now! Or Christ is teaching cannibalism!

The Jews were commanded in Lev 17:11,12 never to eat blood, for the blood is the life of the flesh. That is why the Jews in John 6:52 and verse 60 were confused. They were trying to apply what Christ said literally and physically (like Nicodemus did about the new birth in John 3:3-7), which was contrary to Scripture.

Jesus in John 6 is stating that a better "manna" than the kind the Israelites ate in the wilderness had come (Jn 6:30-34). The Jews had asked for literal bread (6:34) to give them eternal life, just as the Samaritan woman had asked for literal water in John 4:15. But Jesus said HE was living bread, and living water (Jn 6:35; 4:14; 7:37-39). Jesus knew however, that they would not believe His words (Jn 6:35,36) so He purposely turned them away with a parable since all they wanted was food for their belly (Jn 6:41-44,66), not for their soul.

This was not the only time that Jesus used "figures," or examples to explain His work on earth. He also referred to Himself also as "the DOOR" (John 10:7,9), and yet he was not a literal door with hinges, but the WAY through which to get to heaven (John 14:6).

At the cross, there lays a GIFT (Rom 6:23), and that is all. There is no flesh and blood waiting there to be ingested. It is eternal life itself, which simply has to be received (John 1:12,13) by faith (Eph 2:8,9)!

There are two "tables" listed in 1 Corinthians 10:20,21. One is a SACRIFICE to DEVILS, and the other is a "communion" (10:16) or "fellowship" with Christians only remembering Christ's death.

The Lord's Supper is the fulfillment of the Passover Supper since Jesus was the Lamb of God that took away the sins of the world through His death on the cross (John 1:36; Luke 22:7-20).

The two elements are: unleavened bread and unleavened wine. They are unleavened because leaven is a picture of SIN (1 Cor 5:8), and Christ has no SIN. The bread pictures His body, and the wine (grape juice, or new wine) pictures His blood. Grape juice is used because normal fermented wine is leavened and corrupted, while new wine (grape juice) has not fermented but only has the flavour of the grapes (as in pure blood, see Deut 32:14).


Who Can Participate?


The passage of Scripture that teaches all about the Lord's supper is 1 Corinthians 11:20-26. It describes how the Lord's Supper should be conducted. The people Paul was writing to were believers. Lost people are not included at the Lord's table because they have never experienced the free gift of salvation that the Lord's table is picturing. The death and sufferings of Christ would have no real significance to them. Not only is it restricted to true Christians, but to “clean” or “worthy” Christians who have confessed sins and things that are displeasing to God, since it was our sins that crucified Jesus (1 Cor 11:27-32)!


How is the Lord's Supper to be Performed?


There are no explicit instructions on how to perform the Lord's supper other than presented in 1 Cor 11:20-34. No fancy rituals, or mystical sayings are involved. There is no transformation of the bread and wine! It is only a remembrance. Simply, unleavened bread and unleavened wine (grape juice) are to be eaten and drank in the worship time of your local church (Acts 2:42; 20:6,7) for the purpose of remembering Christ's substitutionary death in your place so that you could be completely saved from the punishment of your sin!!!


Key Truths About the Lord’s Supper

 As a Christian, How Should I Approach the Lord's Supper?


With fear and trembling. Paul does rebuke the Corinthians for taking this event lightly in 1 Corinthinas 11:17-34. They had turned it into some kind of a feast for satisfying one's hunger rather than making it a time of remembering the Lord's death. This is a very sacred time, and should be approached with a sacred attitude.

With desire. Jesus Christ desired to eat the Passover with His disciples in Luke 22:15. Although the Lord's table should be approached with reverence, a believer should look forward to the Lord's supper as a way of bringing his attention back to what Christ had done for him.

With a clean heart. The Bible in 1 Corinthians 11:28,31 tells us to EXAMINE and judge ourselves when we partake of the Lord's supper. This self examination is to make sure that our relationship with God is right. God chastises those that partake who do not forsake their sin. The Lord's supper is a reminder that our sin was the reason for Christ giving His life for our salvation from sin, and God wants us to be clean spiritually when we partake of the Lord's supper.


Comparing the Lord's Supper with the Eucharist


The Lord’s Supper

The Eucharist

Is a memorial of Christ’s death

Is a re-sacrifice (Christ is killed again)

Uses simple unleavened bread

Uses a fancy ‘graven’ (IHS) wafer

Uses simple unleavened grape juice

Uses alcoholic wine

Presented by Bible believing pastors

Presented by Bible rejecting priests

Is a reminder of what saved us

Is part of the process of salvation

Called communion, and Lord’s Supper

Called the Mass

A simple reminder

A fancy ritual and ceremony