In the Lord’s Supper, we do two things. We eat bread, which reminds us of the body of Christ broken for us, and we drink the cup, which reminds us of the blood of Christ spilled for us. We find this in Scripture.
1 Corinthians 11:23-24 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (ESV)
1 Corinthians 11:25-26 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (ESV)
In the Lord’s Supper, we’re doing something really strange. We’re symbolically eating the body of Christ and drinking the blood of Christ. Jesus himself is fine with this strangeness.
John 6:53-54 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. (NIV®)
This month’s Christianity Today magazine featured a story on the history of blood (A Spiritual and Medical History of Blood by Douglas Estes, March 2018). The author writes:
In the minds of ancient people, blood was more than just a marker of physical health—it was also a marker of vitality and virtue. A courageous hero had courageous blood; whether the blood made the hero or the hero made the blood was not important. This is one reason ancient writers describe people drinking the blood of animals and people. In a notable example from the first-century writings of Pliny the Elder, Roman citizens with epilepsy drank the blood of dying gladiators in hopes of transferring vitality into themselves.
The belief that life is in the blood is why the Old Testament forbids the drinking of blood.
Deuteronomy 12:23 But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat. (NIV®)
See, no animal’s blood can ever give us life. There’s only one man’s blood who can give any of us life, and that’s the blood of Jesus. As we take communion, we are receiving once more Christ’s life through his blood. Animal blood won’t save us. Neither will the blood of ordinary men. Only the blood of Jesus can save us. Remember that as you take the cup.
If you’re saved by the blood of Jesus, then I invite you to come and partake. But if you don’t believe, then please let the bread and cup pass. But don’t let it pass you by forever. Consider if it really might be true, that one man’s blood can give you eternal life, the blood of Jesus.
Pastor Jonathan Romig wrote this reflection on the Lord’s Supper.