While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:26-28 (NIV)
When God delivered the Israelites after four hundred years of oppressive slavery in Egypt, millions of Israelites and a “mixed multitude” of others were miraculously led through the Red Sea on their way to the Promised Land. God provided for their every need on the journey, even feeding them bread from heaven daily. This manna provided such a perfectly balanced diet that there was not one sick or feeble person among them for forty years. It filled their bellies and kept their bodies healthy and strong. However, the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes.” (Numbers 11:4-7)
God heard their murmuring and complaining. God said, “The Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the Lord. God sent them quail in such a great abundance they stacked it two and a half feet dep. And they ate and ate, and while the meat was still between their teeth, before it could be consumed, thousands of them died and were buried there. And, according to verse 34, that place became known as KibrothHattaavah, which means “The Graves of Lusters,” as a memorial to those who ate themselves right out of the Promised Land.
The Old Testament was a foreshadow of the One who was and did come. Unlike baptism, which is a one-time event, Communion is a practice that is meant to be observed over and over throughout the life of a Christian. It is a holy time of worship when we corporately come together as one body to remember and celebrate what Christ did for us. So why do we observe Communion?
First, we observe Communion because the Lord told us to. We are to obey His commands:
And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24 (NIV)
In observing Communion we are remembering Christ and all that He has done for us in His life, death and resurrection. The bread and wine are used as symbols representing Christ’s body and blood, in remembrance of his enduring sacrifice. Also, when observing Communion we are to take time to examine ourselves:
A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 1 Corinthians 11:28 (NIV)
When we observe Communion we show our participation in the body of Christ. His life becomes our life and we become members of each other:
Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (NIV)
There is only one loaf, and we who are many, make up one body. Ephesians 4:4-6 says, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
God sustained the Children of Israel for forty years with manna – bread from heaven and none was sick among them. It was when they heard the complaining of the mixed multitude that they began to lust for the things they had during their years of bondage. Are you still feasting on the bread of life? Is that enough to sustain you or have you given in and gone along with the cries of the mixed multitude? We have to watch our company. You see the mixed multitude were not God’s people and God didn’t become incensed when they complained, only when HIS children complained. You see that mixed multitude was undoubtedly tired of being oppressed in Egypt and while they probably had not come to believe in the God of Israel, what they did come to know was God had shown Himself more powerful than the gods of the Egyptians. They wanted the benefit of the things of the Children of Israel’s God, but lusted for more than the Bread of Life. They had all been delivered out of Egypt, but Egypt was still in them.
What are you desiring; what are you lusting after? Are you satisfied with the Bread of Life? All that is in the world is lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life and those things are not of our Heavenly Father. The manna — that heavenly bread — which kept the Children contented, filled and healthy, was no longer enough? Let’s be careful to examine ourselves and not follow in the path of the Children of Israel who lusted, murmured and complained like the mixed multitude. This is one reason why observing Communion – and doing so often — is vitally important for God’s children. I Corinthians 11:27-29 says, “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.” The Word says this is why many are weak and ill, and some have died. God gave the Children of Israel what they lusted after. All those who died, the Children of Israel and the mixed multitude, ate themselves out of the Promise Land; let’s not do likewise. Jesus says in John 6:35: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
Lord, it is the pure in heart that shall see God. I ask that You create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us. Give us this day our daily bread. Amen. Amen!
Belinda Powell, © February 2014