Breaking the Bread
This story has been told of the famous Scottish theologian John Duncan, of New College in Edinburgh. At communion one Sunday, when the elements came to a sixteen-year-old girl, she suddenly turned her head aside. She motioned for the elder to take the cup away, the she couldn’t drink it. John Duncan reached his long arm over, touched her shoulder, and said tenderly, “Take it, lassie, it’s for sinners!” ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
"THE LORD'S SUPPER"
1. An act of worship in which we engage each Sunday is The Lord's
a. Known also as The Communion (1 Co 10:16) and The Breaking Of Bread
b. Today, some refer to it as The Eucharist, from the Greek
eucharisteo, "giving of thanks", which Christ did at the time of
its institution - Mt 26:26-27
2. It is a simple act, in which those who are Christians...
a. Partake of unleavened bread
b. Drink of the fruit of the vine
3. It is an important act, one that we should understand why we do it,
lest our participation be...
a. Meaningless to us
b. Displeasing to God
c. Detrimental to us - cf. 1 Co 11:27
[Therefore it behooves all Christians, especially those new in the
faith, to be well acquainted with the meaning and practice of the Lord's
Supper. Let's begin by carefully noting...]
I. THE MEANING OF THE SUPPER
A. IT IS A MEMORIAL...
1. Note Paul's account as given by the Lord Himself - 1 Co 11:
a. We eat the bread in memory of His body
b. We drink the cup (fruit of the vine) in memory of His blood
2. We therefore commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross - Mt
a. Whose death make the new covenant possible - He 9:16
b. Whose blood was shed for the remission of sins - Ep 1:7
-- As the Passover was a memorial commemorating
through the blood of the lambs on the Egypt
door post, so the Supper is a memorial of our Lord's death who
makes our deliverance from the bondage of sin possible
B. IT IS A PROCLAMATION...
1. We proclaim our faith in the efficacy of the Lord's death
- 1 Co 11:
a. That His death was indeed for our sins
b. If we don't believe He died for our sins, why keep the
2. We also proclaim our faith in the Lord's return - 1 Co 11:26b
a. For it is to be done "till He comes"
b. If we don't believe He is coming, then why keep the Supper?
-- Thus the Lord's Supper looks forward as well as backward, and
will ever be observed by His disciples who trust in His
redemption and anticipate His return!
C. IT IS A COMMUNION...
1. A fellowship or sharing in the blood of Christ - 1 Co 10:
a. As we partake, we commune with the blood of Christ
b. Perhaps in the sense of reinforcing blessings we enjoy
through the blood of Christ - cf. 1 Jn 1:7,9
2. A fellowship or sharing in the body of Christ - 1 Co 10:16b-17
a. As we partake, we commune with the body of Christ
b. Perhaps in the sense of reinforcing fellowship together in
the body of Christ (i.e., the church), as we break bread
["The Lord's Supper" certainly has great significance and should not be
taken lightly. We do well therefore to consider what the Scriptures
II. THE OBSERVANCE OF THE SUPPER
A. TO BE DONE WITH REVERENCE...
1. That is, "in a worthy manner" (NKJV) - 1 Co 11:27,29
a. The KJV says "worthily", which some have misunderstood
b. It is an adverb, describing how we take it, not whether we
are worthy (none are truly worthy)
2. With respect for the supreme price Jesus paid for our sins
a. E.g., the cruel torture and humiliation of His physical body
b. E.g., the spiritual anguish suffered as Jesus bore the
punishment for our sins ("My God,
My God, Why have You forsaken Me?")
3. Failure to observe with proper reverence brings condemnation
- 1 Co 11:27,29
a. One will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord
b. One will eats and drinks judgment to himself
-- To make light of this memorial puts one in the same category as
those who mocked Him as He hung on the cross!
B. TO BE DONE WITH SELF-EXAMINATION...
1. Such as reflecting upon one's spiritual condition - 1 Co 11:28
2. Are we living in a manner that shows appreciation for His
a. By accepting the grace of God in our lives? - cf. 2 Co 5:18-
b. By living for Jesus who died for us? - cf. 2 Co 5:14-15; Ga
3. Or are we by willful sinning, guilty of having:
a. "trampled the Son of God underfoot"?
b. "counted the blood by which [we were] sanctified a common
c. "insulted the Spirit of grace"? - cf. He 10:26-29
4. Do we, by refusing to repent of our sins, "crucify again for
themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an shame"? - cf. He
-- In one sense, the Supper is a very private matter between a
Christian and his or her God; a time to reflect on the past and
to resolve for the future
C. TO BE DONE WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS...
1. There is ample indication the Supper is designed to be a
a. The disciples "came together" to break bread - Ac 20:7
b. When they came together, they were to "wait for one another"
- 1 Co 11:33
c. Partaking together of "one bread", they demonstrate they are
"one bread and one body" - 1 Co 10:16
-- We commune not just with the Lord, but with one another
2. For this reason I personally question such practices as:
a. Observing the Supper by one's self when camping or traveling
b. Observing the Supper on Sunday night when just one or a
couple of people in the congregation are partaking
c. Taking the elements to the sick or shut-in who were unable
-- While such issues may fall in the realm of opinion, let's
not forget that the Supper builds fellowship with one
another as well as with the Lord!
D. TO BE DONE OFTEN...
1. The Biblical evidence is that it was done weekly
a. Christians came together on the first day of the week to
"break bread" - Ac 20:7
b. Other indications of a weekly observance:
1) The church at
was coming together to eat the Corinth
Lord's Supper, though they were abusing it - cf. 1 Co 11:
2) Instructions concerning the collection suggest their
coming together was on the first day of the week - cf.
1 Co 16:1-2
c. Following the divinely approved example of Christians in the
Bible, we know God approves of a weekly observance on the
first day of the week
2. The earliest historical evidence outside the Bible confirms the
day and frequency
a. The Didache (ca.
95 A.D.) indicates Christians were to come
together on the first day of the week to break bread
- Didache 14:1
b. Justin Martyr (ca.
150 A.D.) records how Christians
assembled on Sunday and partook of the Supper - Apology I,
c. "...the early church writers from Barnabas, Justin Martyr,
Irenaeus, to Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Cyprian, all
with one consent, declare that the church observed the first
day of the week. They are equally agreed that the Lord's
Supper was observed weekly, on the first day of the week."
- B. W. Johnson, People's New Testament
3. Religious scholars confirm this was the practice
a. "As we have already remarked, the celebration of the Lord's
Supper was still held to constitute an essential part of
divine worship every Sunday, as appears from Justin Martyr
(A.D. 150)..." - Augustus Neander (Lutheran), History Of
Christian Religion And Church, Vol. I, p. 332
b. "This ordinance (the Lord's Supper) seems to have been
administered every Lord's day; and probably no professed
Christian absented themselves..." - Thomas Scott
(Presbyterian), Commentary On Acts 20:7
c. This also is an important example of weekly communion as the
practice of the first Christians." - A. C. Hervey
(Episcopalian), Commentary On Acts 20:7
d. "It is well known that the primitive Christians administered
the Eucharist (the Lord's Supper) every Lord's day."
- P. Doddridge (Congregationalist), Notes On Acts 20:7
4. Some believe that a weekly observance diminishes the importance
of the Supper
a. Which is why they may do it monthly, quarterly, or annually
b. But does the frequent practice of:
1) Assembling diminishing its value and importance?
2) Singing praises and offering prayers devalue their
3) Preaching and studying God's Word decrease their
significance to our lives?
-- Our spiritual lives are dependent upon the value and benefits
of our Lord's death on the cross; a weekly observance of the
memorial helps us to live appreciatively and accordingly!
1. "The Lord's Supper" is a very special memorial of His death for our
a. Instituted by Jesus Himself, He asked His disciples to do it in
b. Jesus told His disciples that He would not eat of the elements
1) "...that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's
kingdom." - Mt 26:29
2) "...that day when I drink it new in the
." - Mk kingdomof God
3) "...it be fulfilled in the
." - Lk 22:16 kingdomof God
shall come." - Lk 22:18 kingdomof God
c. There are two plausible explanations for what Jesus means:
1) Some think it refers to Jesus having fellowship with us as we
observe the Lord's Supper in the church, which is His kingdom
- cf. 1 Co 10:16-17
2) Others propose that it refers to the special communion we will
have with Jesus in His Father's kingdom, spoken often in terms
of a heavenly feast - cf. Isa 25:6-8; Mt 8:11; 22:2-14; Lk 14:
15-24; Re 19:9
2. The first Christians "continued steadfastly" in its observance...
a. Just as they did in the apostles' doctrine, fellowship and prayer
- Ac 2:42
b. Coming together on the first day of the week for that very purpose
- Ac 20:7
3. Christians today should never lose sight of its significance for
a. A constant reminder of the great sacrifice Jesus paid for our sins
b. A communion or sharing of the body and blood of the Lord
c. A time for self-examination and rededication of our service to the
d. A means for building fellowship with one another in the body of
May such thoughts encourage us to never neglect opportunities we have to
observe the Lord's Supper, but to continue steadfastly and in so doing
"proclaim the Lord's death till He comes."