Troublesome Topic: Communion Is Multifaceted

Lesson 11 of 11

When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, or holy communion, what exactly are we doing? In truth there are several layers of meaning involved, making it one of the richest experiences we can have in our journey toward greater closeness to God.

Communion Points Us to the One True Sacrifice

Communion is a chance to reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. I hope that a better understanding of the covenant will make communion more meaningful for you.

1. The consequence of violating the original covenant made in the garden between God and the first man was death. Death is basically a separation that can be of a physical nature or a spiritual nature. Every man and woman is born under the curse of death that we inherited from Adam,

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meaning that we are separated from God, and we will one day have our spirit separated from our body. We are already suffering the punishment of death, which is separation from God. Whenever a loved one dies and is separated from us, we should see it as a reminder that we are suffering the consequence of that first covenant violation. Since all of us are born in a state of spiritual death, we all need to get back into a healthy relationship with God, but we can’t, our own death does nothing to take care of the mess we are in. We need Jesus and what He did for us in order to not suffer the additional punishment called the “second death.

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This means that Jesus not only died for us, He also died with us. Jesus died with us because we were already suffering spiritual death on account of Adam’s sin, and He died for us because our death accomplishes nothing to change the situation.

2. By suffering death (separation from God the Father and separation from His body), Jesus did something that is truly remarkable. Although God is the one that established the original covenant with man, and it was man that violated that covenant in the Garden of Eden, God was willing to suffer the consequence of the covenant violation along with the violators! Never in the history of covenant-making had that even been dreamed of; that’s just not the way covenants work. If a subjugated people violated the covenant, the king of the conquering nation never volunteered to suffer the punishment (death) with the violators. Yet Jesus became sin on our behalf

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and took on Himself the curse that man has borne since the time of Adam.

Galatians 3:13


CHRIST redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us, (for as it has been written, “cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree”),


THE ANOINTED MESSIAH redeemed us from the curse that was made more obvious to us by the law, when He became cursed in our place, (now remember that it has been written, “anyone who is put to death publicly by impaling or crucifixion is being punished for something serious and is reaping the consequences of a curse”),

Such was the extent of His resolve to bring reconciliation to the relationship man had torn to pieces.

3. Jesus provided atonement for sins through His substitutionary sacrifice. He himself said that He was shedding His blood, “for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt. 26:28). There were four cups that were raised, blessed and drunk during the Passover meal, called the Seder meal. It is widely accepted that the cup Jesus had in His hand when He spoke those words about forgiveness was the third cup of the meal, the one that was called the “cup of redemption.”

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God asked Abraham to paint of picture of a costly sacrifice using his own son, and it felt to Abraham like God came very close to letting him follow through with it. However, there is a big difference between “almost” and “for real,” and in the case of His own son, God actually followed through with and completed what He did not let Abraham complete.

The sacrifice of a four-footed creature did not really do the job; it was just a symbolic representation. The sacrificing of our life would also have accomplished nothing, for we were already suffering spiritual death and were destined for physical death.

In the moments of silence during communion we should consider again the fact that we could do nothing to bring ourselves back into a proper relationship with God. God did not have to “straighten things out” for us, He could have just annihilated us, but He chose to redeem us, and at an extremely high price. Our most sincere expressions of gratitude seem inadequate; but thankfully, He is pleased by such weak attempts.

4. Jesus used His own blood to establish the New Covenant. The inauguration of the New Covenant did not involve a representative death, it was a real death; the blood that was shed was not that of some animal, but that of the very ones (Father and Son) establishing the covenant!

If the use of blood in covenant-making was intended to provide assurance that someone would do what he said he would do (and it was), then I must conclude that there was never a more sure thing in the history of the universe than this New Covenant! If the blood of animals could provide strong assurance, how much more the blood of the covenant Lord Himself!

5. Christ’s death brought us close to God again. Separation from God was the key spiritual characteristic of man from the moment Adam and Eve sinned. It is something we all inherit. Jesus eliminated the distance that separated us, and allowed man to draw close to God once again. We were once dead in our sins (spiritual death), but now He has made us alive in Christ Jesus (spiritual life). Those Old Testament persons we read about who were able to live in a close relationship with God could do so because God retroactively accepted Christ’s redemptive work on their behalf. Jesus did not eliminate physical death from the collection of experiences we have to look forward to. He did, however, eliminate the spiritual separations (spiritual death) which we could do nothing about on our own. The power that raised Jesus from physical death can work in us to bring us from spiritual death to spiritual life,

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i.e. from far away from God, to close to God.

This closeness is a result, not a primary act. The elimination of the separation came as a result of the fact that Jesus had accomplished atonement on our behalf. It is one of several important provisions for us that we should contemplate as we take the communion elements.

6. He paid the price to buy us back again. Both New Testament terms that are translated “redeem” point to the act of buying with the purpose of providing freedom or deliverance. All of us, like sheep, have wandered away (Is. 53:6) and there was a price involved in getting us back.

We discussed earlier how God told Hosea to take a prostitute named Gomer as his wife (it could have been a prostitute to make money, or a temple prostitute in the Baal cult). She left him and ended up on the auction block being sold as a slave. God told Hosea to buy her back. This was a perfect picture of God’s dealings with Israel which fits precisely with the use of the term “redeem,” which means to “buy back.”

A price must be paid since we have, by the decision of Adam first of all, and secondly by our own decisions, enslaved ourselves to sin. The payment does not go to Satan, for God does not owe Satan anything! But there was indeed a price to be paid for our freedom from sin’s dominion, and that price was extremely high. It is because of the high cost that was paid for our redemption that we are told to “do this in remembrance” of the one who paid that price. We dare not lose a sense of awe, wonder, amazement and inexpressible gratitude for what was done on that cross.

7. God and Jesus paid the bride-price for us to be His bride. In Jesus’ day a marriage between a young man and a young woman was arranged in the following fashion: The young man and his father would go to the father of the bride-to-be to express their intentions and agree on a bride-price. This bride-price was often equivalent to what we would pay for a house!

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By the time of Jesus, things had developed to the point where, if a bride-price was agreed upon, they called in the young lady and gave her a chance to agree or disagree with the arrangement. If she agreed, the fathers each took a sip from a shared cup of wine, then the young man would do so, and finally the young woman also. By drinking from the cup the young man was saying to the young woman, “I promise to give you my very life.” When she received the cup from him and drank also, she was symbolically saying, “I accept your life and I give you my life in return.” It was a statement of intent, not knowing if one of their lives would need to be given. In the Case of Jesus, it was more than just a statement of intent, he did give His life for us.

In the case of mankind, the bride-price was very high -it was paid in blood. It would be correct to say that God used the blood of His Son to pay the bride-price with which He acquired us as the wife of His son. It would also be correct to say that Jesus promised us His life, and promptly gave it for us. Both acts were accomplished by His crucifixion.

When we participate in communion and we drink from the cup, we should remember the words of the young lady in the custom described above. We should think of drinking from the cup as a statement from us to Jesus which declares, “I accept the giving of your life, and I give you my life in return.”

7 plus 1. This is a sign of the New Covenant, established as such when Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” 

Since a meal was sometimes used in antiquity to help inaugurate a covenant, a dramatization of that meal would be a natural sign of that covenant relationship. The way Jesus asked them to show their loyalty to this New Covenant was perfectly understood in their day. So every time we participate in communion, or the Lord’s Supper, we are not just remembering what He did for us, but we are publicly stating our loyalty to that relationship. Anyone who takes part in communion without an attitude of sober commitment to God is acting like those mentioned in I Cor. 11:20-33, whom the Apostle Paul chastised severely. It is much better to focus on how grateful we are to God for providing us with His eternal source of true nourishment and happiness – “bread of life,” whom we love more and more each day we keep Him close to us.

The next lesson in the Full Series on Covenants is: A New Perspective on the Curse of Death



Rom. 5:12 says: “Because of this, just as through one man sin came into the world, and through sin came death, and in this manner death passed on to all men, for all have sinned.”


The “second death” is mentioned four times in Revelation: Revelation 2:11  / Revelation 20:6  / Revelation 20:14Revelation 21:8.


II Cor. 5:21 says: “He (God) made him who had not experienced sin to become sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”


Ray Vanderlaan, Video Series That the World May Know, lesson 25, “Roll Away the Stone.”


Rom 6:6 says: “For if we have been united [to Him] in that representation of His death (baptism) we will certainly [be united with Him] also in the resurrection.”


Ray VanderLaan, Video Series That the World May Know, lesson 25, “Roll Away the Stone.”