“Last Supper” is actually somewhat of a misnomer. The so called “last” supper of Christ, on that Passover night when he would later be kissed by Judas and arrested, was to become for his followers the “first” supper meal in an eternity of feasting with our Savior. In fact, it wasn’t long before Jesus was eating with his disciples again. Shortly after the resurrection, Jesus supped with two disciples in Emmaus. Even though Jesus was the guest, Luke reports that he took a small loaf of bread, asked God’s blessing on it, broke it, and then gave it to the two men. John tells us of a time when our resurrected Savior prepared fish and bread for four of the disciples. The introduction to the book of Acts begins with a casual mention of Jesus eating a meal with his followers before he ascended to heaven.
A few weeks later, at Pentecost, this small band of spiritual brothers and sisters was joined by thousands. They joined together in devotion to prayer and to the teaching of the apostles as well as to fellowship with one another. In this context, as God began his massive re:gathering of his scattered people, these thousands of early Christians communed, Luke tells us, by sharing in the Lord’s Supper. Their unity together was unlimited. They shared their wealth, their possessions, their time and their homes with everyone as there was need. They worshipped together in the Temple every day. And, Luke informs us, “they met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity- all while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And daily, God gave salvation to more people who then became a part of this incredible group.
“Keeping in mind these references to the breaking of the bread after Christ’s resurrection,” Vander Zee contends, “ensures that we will not mistakenly assume that the Lord’s Supper merely carries the somber mood of the impending crucifixion. Yes, we eat and drink to ‘proclaim the Lord’s death,’ as Paul puts it. But we also do so ‘until he comes,” which puts us in the mood of joyful anticipation.” Similarly, Kreider writes that “nothing should obscure the overarching emphasis of truly thankful prayers that express joy in God’s salvation, in the advent of God’s reign.”
Such joyful unity is essential within the Christian community. Communion is an absolutely integral component of the re:formative work of the Holy Spirit throughout history. Communion is the ultimate, interactive portrayal of the breaking of Christ’s body so that the Church could become the Body of Christ on earth. From his slaughter comes our hope! “This is my body, which is given for you,” Jesus said. And “this cup is the new covenant between God and you, sealed by the shedding of my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.”
Communion draws us together as a body. “We all eat from one loaf, showing that we are one body,” Paul comments. Christ’s body was broken so ours could be re:stored. As one entity the many parts come together. Kreider explains that “as we come to his table again and again, we learn to bring more of ourselves, to receive more of him, to experience the deeply joyful solidarity with others at the Lord’s table with us.”
As Paul reminded the fractious Corinthian church, “Now all of you together are Christ’s body,” so he also encouraged the Ephesian believers, “We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future.” Oh, how God desires to commune with us! Through his blood shed and his body given, we are enabled to share with him our very lives. As a result, we also participate with one another in an eternally profound fellowship.