– What is the Lord’s Supper? How should we celebrate it?
Have you ever heard anything about the Lord’s Supper? The most popular term for this is Holy Communion. Although this term has little to do with what Jesus directed us to do in memory of Him. In some Protestant churches, Holy Communion is not accepted, instead the Lord’s Supper is kept in its place. The Gospel tells us exactly what happened that night in the room upstairs just before Jesus died. His disciples waited for dinner together. Jesus came to them and firstly instituted the ritual of washing the feet, as a symbol of cleansing and humility (John 13:1-14). Peter was against the washing of his feet, but Jesus quickly convinced him that it was important. Finally, Jesus emphasized: “So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you must also wash one another’s feet. I’ve set an example for you, so that you may do as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15). Do you do it as a memorial, as Jesus did?
Then Jesus took the bread, (Luke 22:17-19) broke it and distributed it to the disciples, presenting it as the body of the Saviour whom we should feed upon. Scripture, speaking of bread, points to the Word of God, which we should often study (Ezekiel 3:1-3, John 1:1-3). Then Jesus raised the chalice with wine, which was to symbolize His blood shed for the sins of this world – also for ours – so that also we could be saved. He finished the Supper with a command, so that we all do it in remembrance of His martyrdom.
The Lord’s Supper begins with the washing of feet, praying, breaking of bread and sharing it and drinking wine to commemorate the death of Jesus. The Lord did not point to the saving action of bread (whether in the form of a wafer or unleavened bread) or the salvific effect of wine. He did not order to worship these foods. In bread and in wine and in washing of feet, the symbolism of the Saviour’s death for sinful humanity is hidden (1 Corinthians 11:23- 26).
What should be done to properly prepare for Holy Communion or Lord’s Supper, and thus to meet Jesus? Let me use the term “Supper” in the rest of this text. It is not a mere episode. It is a reminder that Jesus Christ himself left us. I am sure that if we had heard the week before the Supper, in the church, “Brothers and Sisters, the Lord’s Supper will come in a week and the President will come! He will celebrate with us and everyone will be able to shake his hand and greet him.” For some, it would be some kind of a commotion, an event that does not happen every day and which they would think about all week. However, if it is the president then not everyone would have been so enthusiastic, the question of what kind of a president it would have been and of which country. Greater emotions would undoubtedly be connected with the Pope’s arrival. Imagine the Pope himself arrives at your church to pray together and take part in the Lord’s Supper! Do you know what would happen then? Apart from the fact that police teams would be everywhere and watch over the crowd. Assume, however, that there is no security, bishops or anyone else but the Pope himself and us, ordinary people who are with him. Would you then prepare for this circumstance?
Every Lord’s Supper is a wonderful event. Every time before it starts, I ask myself whether the Holy Spirit will be with us? I firmly believe that yes. In addition to the Holy Spirit, there are angels during the Supper. Do you think the empty chairs and benches in the church are really empty? No – there are angels in them! This is the state of things that we do not see them, and it is – in a way – for our good. We should believe that they are with us. Of course, let us remember that in the ordinary worship services, messengers from heaven are also participating. Jesus is not with us personally, but there is the Holy Spirit who comes in the name of God and our Saviour! He is with us. Is it not a much more important person than the president or the Pope?
Think, whether you had enough time to analyse your life and thus prepare for a meeting with the Holy Spirit at the Supper? Have you gone through a soul search that is so important in confessing your sins and praying to God? Have you read the Bible? We should answer these questions on a daily basis. Then, when we received the information that the time of the Lord’s Supper had come, we would have thought of it a few days earlier and prepared ourselves like for a wedding reception with the Lord, full of joy and divine peace.
When I was little, once my parents took me and my sister to our grandparents who lived in a village half way between Radom and Opoczno, in Smogorzów. The grandparents said that it was time for haymaking, so we would go to the meadow on a tractor, pack hay and bring it to the barn. This is a very interesting event for the children! My sister was two years older and we did not have a good relationship. Today, when I look at my children, I’m glad they love each other and agree. Whereas my sister and me, we have always quarrelled. During this haymaking, when the trailer was already completely loaded, we approached a stream flowing past the meadow and began to push each other. In the end, my sister was so upset that I took her in my arms and tossed her into that stream full of frogs! She came out crying, wet, went to our parents and complained about me. Did I do well? In retrospect, I know I did something I should not do. Although it was just such a small mischief.
Such mischievousness happens in our lives all the time. I am sure that every day we have the temptation to play a trick, even now, when we are older people. The mischief over time, unfortunately, gets more and more serious. Jesus admonishes us that, just as our parents were paying attention to what we do and what relationships we hold between each other, in the same way God is looking at us today. He looks at us from above, like a father at his children, as we quarrel with our neighbour, family or friends. Should it be like that? It’s time to pay special attention and turn away from the wrong ways.
A few days after the haymaking my sister took me in a two-wheeled cart to a hill. She said it would be fun to go down the slope. Did you guess how it ended? She let me go down from the top! I was bruised terribly. She burst out laughing loudly: “Ha ha ha! That was my revenge!” Did she do well? How often does it happen in our lives that we give somebody a dose of their own medicine when someone is doing something wrong? It does not matter if it’s our siblings, parents, kids, friends, neighbours or just strangers in the store, in the street, on the sidewalk, in the office, or at work.
My friend recently argued with his mother, a woman in her sixties. While his son was having fun at home with his colleague, the woman brought cake and gave it only to her grandson. My colleague seeing the situation, came up and said:
“Mom, if you really give a treat, you should give it to everyone” – he was referring to his son’s colleague. His mom took him aside and chastised him:
“Do not tell me what to do! Do you think they treat him when he goes to play at their place?” Would Jesus approve it? We should walk like Jesus did. He, when He had multiplied bread and fish, distributed it to all, without distinction to those who were worthy of the meal and the ungrateful (Matthew 15:35).
I think the behaviour of this grandmother is associated with jealousy. This is one of the main sins that is born in the heart, after which many other sins come. This attitude is also associated with pride, the sin that has once appeared in the heart of Satan. This sin led in consequence to his fall. Satan was jealous of Jesus being worshiped in Heaven by the creatures living there. He rebelled, joined by one third of the angels. However, Jesus won this fight and Satan and the rebellious angels were thrown to Earth (Revelation 12:3-4). That is why we should pay special attention to these little thoughts that when nurtured become the beginning of sin. The sin of jealousy can even lead to murder. The sin of pride is the cause of exaltation and injustice. This desire is firmly rooted in human nature. Even the disciples of Jesus succumbed to this sinful inclination. We also are sinners. Yet, the sacred Scriptures assure us that we are also the chosen people, priestly people, a royal family (Revelation 1:6). I remind, however, that in order to feel as saints, one has to make a very deep examination of his conscience and confess his sins to God. So is it possible for saints to sin? Of course it is. Worse if this sin becomes persistent and we continue in it. This, God will not forgive us.
Is it possible that we consciously commit the same sin, but we are still Christians? The Gospel of Mark (9:33-34) tells the story of the disciples who had been with Jesus for over three years and still sinned: “Then they came to Capernaum. While Jesus was at home, he asked the disciples – What were you arguing about on the road? – But they kept silent, because they had argued on the road with one another about who was the greatest” (Mark 9:33-34). The disciples were sure that Jesus would establish a new Kingdom. They discussed who would be the prime minister. They did not explain to Jesus what they found and what positions they would occupy, but I think such talks took place there. During these three years, the disciples were only with Jesus – they followed Him, ate, slept, listened to His teachings. They believed in Him as the Son of God. In the described situation, however, they tried to talk in a whisper, so that God would not hear them accidentally. From here, a very important lesson about sin is shown to us: it is difficult to sin in the presence of Jesus! Even people who are most inclined to evil cannot sin in the presence of the One they love and respect. So, if we sin, it is unmistakable that we must not feel the presence of God and that we are departing from Jesus.
When the disciples came to Capernaum, they went with Jesus to the house where they were to stay. Having found a moment of peace, Jesus then asked them what they were talking about on the way. The students were ashamed and did not respond. That was what had to be done – remain in silence. I was also silent when my parents asked me why I threw my sister into the brook. I was sorry and I was ashamed. Jesus, however, fell into silence and after a long pause, one of the apostles replied: “Well, ummm… Jesus, your reign is approaching. We were wondering who would be the greatest of us in your Kingdom.” Jesus continuously taught them humility, He himself renounced divinity, but they did not understand His mission. Of course He could then say to the disciples “Get out of my sight, I have lost patience with you.” However, He did not say those words. Jesus did not reject His disciples, but instructed them with the following words: “So He sat down, called the Twelve, and told them – If anyone wants to be first, He must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). These words are still valid. Do you understand the mission of Jesus? Are you fully aware of why He came and what did He do for us? Do you understand what Jesus is expecting from you today? Often, when we become too self-confident, we forget that we ought to serve others, help, support, be with them; that we should be first in service. What were the sins of the apostles? Pride? After all, we all have a bit of it. That is our world, we have already got used to it. Perhaps before we die, we will be able to deal with this “minor” problem. If we study the topic well, it turns out that pride in the eyes of God is one of the worst sins. It is absolutely contradictory to God’s nature. Pride was a sin that started all evil. Psalm 101 says, “I will not allow anyone with a perverted mind in my presence; I will not be involved with anything evil. I will destroy the one who secretly slanders a friend. I will not allow the proud and haughty to prevail. My eyes are looking at the faithful of the land, so they may live with me; The one who lives a life of integrity will serve me. Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land, eliminating everyone who practices iniquity from the Lord’s city” (Psalm 101:4-8). I do not encourage you to eradicate all the wicked in our cities every morning. Soon few people would be left in them. So the sin committed by the disciples was not ordinary and constituted a serious offence. They knew they were doing badly, yet they behaved similarly all the time when accompanying Jesus. Even at the Last Supper, shortly before the crucifixion, the apostles committed this sin. So it can be said that it was a conscious sin, a kind of continuous habit, nurtured, persistent, which should be avoided by them. Do we tolerate such sins at home? Or others, even worse? Let us confess it to God. Let’s cleanse our hearts. Let’s decide today: “It’s the end Satan, I tell you NO, you will come to me, but there will be angels who will protect and support me!”
The problem of the disciples was hiding in their incomplete conversion. They drove away the demons, they healed the lepers, they raised people from the dead! Do unconverted people do such things? Look at Luke’s Gospel (10:19). We read about the return of seventy two disciples from an evangelistic expedition. Jesus said, “Look! I have given you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to destroy all the enemy’s power, and nothing will ever hurt you. However, stop rejoicing because the spirits are submitting to you. Instead, rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” All the time Jesus guided the minds of the disciples to the right way of thinking, directing their attention to what was more important. After all, He said it to them when they returned from their mission, and this took place much earlier than the incident on the road to Capernaum. Jesus in the Gospel of John (3:3) tells Nicodemus that if he is not born again, he will not see the Kingdom of Heaven. It is difficult to reconcile with the statement that the disciples were not converted. Some were, and some were not. Even in relation to Peter, during his last three days on Earth, Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has asked permission to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail. When you have come back, you must strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32). Hence the conclusion that we may have access to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we may use them when being near the Lord, yet not be fully converted.
What attitude does Jesus have to those who persistently sin? In the Gospel of Matthew (12:31) it is written: “So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” Is that not good news? If every sin can be forgiven, besides those against the Holy Spirit, then that includes the sins which are most often repeated by us and through which we most often fall! I still commit such sins unfortunately. It is true that at the time of conversion God changed my life and took away some sins. Over all these years, I’ve seen with my own eyes how I’m getting rid of some of the vices, but there are still ones I’m struggling with. Conversion is a process in which we should reach the end as soon as possible. God leaves us with some sins for us to show Him that by His side we will take up a fight against Satan. We have to prove we want to fight and show which side we take.
Forgiveness also includes the worst offences – pride, murder, adultery. Jesus forgave all these sins, he continued to lead the disciples, trying to pass on His teachings. Are you, Dear Reader, determined to reject your sin? Think now in your heart about which sin I speak about. Have you ever committed a murder? If so – I have very good news for you: if you sincerely repent, Jesus will forgive you this sin! You can be free! Maybe it would have been harder for me to forgive, but Jesus will forgive you for sure. This is great hope, amazing news! Maybe you cheated on your wife or husband? If it is difficult for your spouse to forgive you, God will forgive you if you repent and atone for it. If the temptation like that comes someday later – reject it, say “No!” to Satan. Maybe you stole something? Jesus will forgive you, but first fix the damage. It is not easy to be a good Christian. I myself am not always a good father, husband, employer. I’m sorry for this reason. Every day I beg God: “Change me to be a better father, better husband, better brother, better employer, better colleague and friend.” Let’s work on ourselves and change, because it cannot be that we want to be saints and we are not working on our character.
There is still hope for us and for our children. It is still the time of grace. Although we are earthly fathers and we are imperfect, we have a wonderful God in Heaven who is our Father. I feel like His son. Although my sons have not yet had the opportunity to get to know Jesus well, I hope they will know Him in the future. God sent Him on a mission to us, just as He sent the Saviour to the Israelites who rejected Him. How often do you reject Jesus? Time to end this! Tell it to yourself honestly, in plain words – sink or swim! In Scripture it is written that God will separate believers like a grain through a sieve: “It is He who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to clean up His threshing floor. He’ll gather the grain into His barn, but He’ll burn the chaff with inextinguishable fire” (Luke 3:16-17). I would love us to be in the largest possible group in Heaven, but unfortunately it will not happen. Judgment Day, which will come soon, will show who was a child of God, and who was the ‘chaff’, which will be burned in the unquenchable fire.
Today, my Dear Reader, you are invited to the banquet of the Lamb. Are you worthy to come? This is not just a matter of the moment or of the present day, but also of our past lives and decisions we made and what we will do in the future. Today you can change your life, you can tell Jesus: “Yes, I am changing, Jesus! I want to change today! Even though my life so far was so contradictory with your will, from now on I want this to change!” If you do not want to be saved, then go and have fun. At this moment you can go into the world and tell everyone, also to Jesus: “I do not believe!” Or “Yes Jesus, you are real, I know, but I have doubts. That’s my nature, maybe it’s not my time or maybe I do not want to. What is my interest in eternal life in Heaven? I prefer to have fun here on Earth and enjoy life. Really, the world has so many amazing opportunities, such surprises for us, such fun, parties, joy, trips, television, the Internet. Why not use it?” Someone who resigns from Jesus – let him go and let him be glad, because he only has little life left. But first let him think: what is this sixty-five years? Reportedly, the average male lives up to his second retirement payout and his life ends. Note that if he was not reconciled with God, if he had no ties, he lost the chance of eternal life, without doubt much more valuable than any kind of retirement.
I still remember my student days when my first son, Kuba, was not there. Today he is fourteen. I remember how I myself was eighteen and approached the maturity exam. This time passed like a snapshot – amazingly fast. But what is it compared to eternity? Listen, Brother and Sister – God will not change you if you do not want it yourself, if you do not tell Him today: “Yes, this is the time” if you do not tell Him today “I open my heart to the reception of the Holy Spirit, transform it, please!” If you do not do this, God will not change you. John, the beloved disciple, was always close to Jesus, but it took him three years to accept the victory over sin Jesus offered him. Although John was not less sinful than Judas, he did not let that put him down and continued to follow Jesus. On the contrary, Judas often disappeared. It is not acceptable that you become persistent in sin. There comes a moment when you have to make a clear decision: either you go all the way and you sin, or you go the other way and you stay with God with all your heart. There comes a moment when you have to decide.
Brother and Sister, I want you to remember the gift of Heaven, the opportunity to know Jesus as your personal friend! Through prayer, study of the Word of God, and by communion with Him. If nothing separates us from Jesus, then like John, the beloved disciple and apostle, we will experience a change of character. It does not matter what great sin you are struggling with, in the end it will disappear from your life. I experienced it myself. Sometimes we become impatient and try to chart our spiritual growth – do not do it! Leave it to the Holy Spirit, it is better to leave it to God who has the power to change our hearts. The principle of Christian growth is first to sprout, to grow a stem, and then to yield a harvest. Growing fruit takes time, but love has its own security measure, which protects from the slavery of sin. The more we love, the more we value God’s grace. Let’s grow and learn from the apostles, how to love God and how to trust Him completely. Ending these thoughts I want to quote De Mono’s [translator’s note: Polish music band] lyrics, “To love does not always mean the same thing, you can love lightly and you can love without end. Love to be together always and everywhere, believe that things are good when we are alone. Loving does not always mean the same thing. When you are away, you love in a different way. And when you desire so much, beware – you may regret it, because when you’re away, you may lose everything.”
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