Communion is awesome

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Hmmm… white wine and wheat thins. Might not be “approved” communion elements. Then again, I’ve remembered Christ’s death with lemonade and goldfish in a pinch before!

Among those who grew up in the church, there can be mixed memories of taking communion at church. For some it meant that the service was going to take 5-10 minutes longer than normal… an eternity for a 12 year old who is supposed to sit still and do nothing for an hour. For others it meant that there was a snack this week in “Big Church!” Score!

Last year while I was deployed I had a bit of a revelation on how amazing communion really is. I’d love to spark a discussion on how you have been impacted by it, or maybe if you have struggled with the ritualistic nature of it and, in fact, haven’t found anything life-giving there.

This last week we partook in and discussed the intricacies of communion in the discipleship community that I am a part of (immerse). There are so many deep things behind this sacrament and we dug in as deep as we could. It helped to have a seminary student in the group. It also helped that everyone was passionate about Christ and was hungry to partake in the fullness of salvation (with all the toppings!)

Here is what I would like to contribute to this conversation:

Grain for bread is easily crushed, so he doesn’t keep on pounding it. He threshes it under the wheels of a cart, but he doesn’t pulverize it. Isaiah 28:28

When reading this passage a while back I asked God for more insight. Suddenly I found myself in this crazy thought-pattern evaluating the different uses of seeds, Christ’s work and sacrifice, and our place as seeds for producing fruit.

  1. There are two uses for grain (seeds). One use is to crush the seed and make it into flour. The other use is to protect the seed, preserve it, and keep it away from moisture until the right time for it to be put in the ground so that it can grow and produce more seeds.
  2. Jesus is the seed that was crushed. He was made into flour, so to speak, and prepared as a grain offering to God (Leviticus 2). A grain offering consisted of some form of grain or bread that was prepared with oil and frankincense as a thanksgiving offering to God for His mercy and goodness given to us by allowing a good harvest so we won’t die of starvation.
  3. We are the seed that is protected and kept whole so that we, at some point, can choose to “die” for someone else in order to produce fruit. We are not a seed to be crushed in order to somehow be made right with God and “appease his wrath.” Jesus alone is the sacrifice that makes us right with God. God protects us, heals us, makes us emotionally and spiritually healthy and provides for us so that at some point we can lay our lives down for someone else and serve them selflessly. Our hope is that our selfless service will fall on good soil and produce fruit in their lives, advancing the Kingdom of God.

So, how does this tie into communion? Well, Jesus is our grain offering. Jesus Himself is our offering of thanks to God for everything He has provided for us. When the Israelites harvested their crops they would bring a few sacrifices to offer to God. One of those was a portion of the very food that God had blessed them with, the grain offering. A portion of the portion they brought was then burned up (Jesus’s body) for God, and the other portion was given to the priests as their food for daily living.

So, when Jesus invites us to eat of His flesh, He is inviting us into the priesthood of believers mentioned in 1 Peter 2. When we partake of Communion, we are partaking of the portion of the grain offering that was reserved only for those who were set apart as holy as priests of God.

This is a solemn and holy thing! It should not be treated as common. If we are priests, we confirm that as we partake of his body and should act like it. Well then, what should we expect to do as priests in this Kingdom? Well, a priest helps people encounter God and be made right with Him.

So, the next time you partake in communion, consider the fact that you are affirming your role in the Kingdom as someone who is to help others encounter God and be made right with Him. There is always an “other-focused” aspect to the priesthood. Remember, the priests wore the names of all the tribes of Israel on their chest to remind them that they represented the whole community in their worship. (Community : Communion… interestingly similar word)

The offering we help others present to God is always Jesus and the mode by which we present it is prayer. Good luck being priests!

Share your thoughts below.

Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Luke 4:4). Jesus himself is that word (John 1). Jesus himself is our sustaining portion, our daily bread and our grain offering of thanksgiving.

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About Nathan Banker

Nathan, Michelle and their two sons are occupational ministers in the Twin Cities. They do spiritual mentoring, a form of prayer ministry call Prayer Resolution and help run a small church-like community called Immerse. They dream of changing the world, one person at a time.

7 responses to “Communion is awesome”

  1. Marie says :

    I actually hate taking communion, and I will often not partake when it’s offered. It feels too much like making a promise that is impossible for me to keep.

    • nathanbanker says :

      I love your honesty! Please elaborate. What promise do you feel like you are making?

      • Marie says :

        Communion is a blood covenant pledging your life to serve and follow God. Even though I follow God, I know I won’t be perfect, that I’ll mess up. It just seems like more than I can promise in such a solemn way.

        • nathanbanker says :

          Many of the covenants that God established with man were completely one-sided. These are called Royal Grant covenants. The one in higher authority is the one who is held to fulfill the covenant, while the “lower” one just receives it.

          Passover is a great OT picture of the covenant that Jesus would establish. Under that covenant sign, the only obligation on the people was to celebrate what God was going to do for them. So, they feasted on the passover lamb and allowed God to deliver them with his own strong hand (ex 3:19).

          I don’t believe that communion is a conditional covenant sign and doesn’t require your service (unlike the Mosaic Law covenant in Deut 28), just your celebration and remembrance (communion) of what was done for you. So, what if Communion is a blood covenant where God pledges by oath (Heb 6:18) our deliverance and salvation and not where we pledge undying service to him?

          • Marie says :

            Peter Haas preached on communion and blood covenants maybe last year? I should probably re-watch the sermons, as I’m fuzzy on the details. I admit my knowledge of the customs and the significance of adding Jesus to the mix is limited. Taking communion just typically fills me with guilt and dread.

            • nathanbanker says :

              Makes me a bit sad that guilt and dread are the emotions that stir up. I highly doubt that was Jesus’ intention when he established it. I pray that God will replace that will joy by His Spirit and that it could eventually be a good time.

              I loved Peter’s message on blood covenants. I have much more I could say about God’s covenants with man. It’s a deep profound thing to prayerfully study up on. Let me know if you want more, or I could send you my notes from the teaching I did on covenants for the Discipleship School @ Substance this last fall.

              Thanks again for your honesty and vulnerability! Just what I was hoping would be welcome in this conversation.

  2. smackdabchina says :

    Though I have never struggled with why Christ’s blood was needed, I have struggled with the significance of Christ’s flesh in Communion. It was easy for me to see that the blood pays for my sin. Your post helps clarify the purpose of His flesh. He is the bread of heaven, so it seems that makes Him a grain offering. It would have a lot easier to understand if it said “flesh given as a thanks offering and blood shed as a guilt/sin offering.”

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