“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come” (I Corinthians 11:26).
Remembering Jesus’ act of love for us is the essence of the communion service. In such a simple practice, we have an object lesson of what He did and why. Concerning “this bread,” Jesus said, “Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven” (John 6:32), which is in contrast to the sign of the manna which sustained Israel during their sojourn until they arrived in the promised land. It met their physical needs until “the land” took over.
What was the meaning behind this sign? Jesus said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (v.51). God gave manna as a temporary measure to keep the Israelites alive. But, all those that ate it eventually died. Jesus said He was the permanent solution to hunger: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (v.35).
Jesus Himself must be “eaten” (appropriated) for the benefit to be transferred to the user, not that the bread of communion mystically enlivens the partaker, but rather the act of acceptance of Jesus’ love for us in His dying for our sins provides eternal life. Believing on Jesus as the effective antidote for our sin enables us to live forever with Him. John 12:24 gives more understanding of what Jesus did: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” Continuing on for the believer in God’s presence after this life involves the death, burial, and resurrection of the “corn of wheat” (Christ) so that “much fruit” (you and I) might live eternally. KBC