The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:16–17)
We often talk about our “walks” with the Lord, but when was the last time we sat down and ate a meal with him?
In the ancient Jewish Passover meal, the third cup was called the “cup of blessing.” That was the part of the meal that Jesus radically transformed into what we call “the Lord’s Supper.” Instead of remembering the time God had spared all the firstborn of Israel with blood on their doorposts to escape from Egypt, now Jesus’s disciples would celebrate the body of Jesus broken for them, and the blood of Jesus spilled for them, to escape the wrath of God.
The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:16 that when we partake of the bread and of the cup, we “fellowship” with our Savior (the word for “participation” in verses 16 and 17 is the word for “fellowship” elsewhere). In other words, we participate with Jesus spiritually at his Table.
This is key: We are not merely remembering Jesus when we come to his Table; we are eating with him. Though remembering him remains significant, more is happening than that. Jesus himself is present by the Spirit. As we eat and drink, we eat and drink with him, and renew ourselves spiritually through him.
At his Table, we do not eat and drink the physical body of Christ, but we do eat and drink of him spiritually. By this we mean that the gospel — which has been completed once for all as a saving grace — is applied in fresh ways as we gather at the Table. Jesus himself meets with us as his blood-bought body of believers to help us fix our eyes on him and fight sin and treasure him, by the power of his Spirit.
Invited to the Family Meal
God invites us to this meal. In 1 Corinthians 1:9, we see this same word for participation used for the first time in this letter:
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Our intimacy with Christ comes from our calling by God. One of the ways we fellowship with Christ in spectacular intimacy happens at the Lord’s Table.
Jesus meets with us, and among us, as we come to this “fellowship in the blood of Christ.” Communion is a holy moment for the church when we not only acknowledge our sin and unworthiness, but then also fellowship with Jesus as we ask him to help us live for the glory of the Father.
In this holy meal, we recognize that there is one bread, and that we who are many are one body as we all partake from this one bread. This is a family meal. Christ has taken us all in — in all our diversity, in all our stories, in all our sinfulness, in all of our sufferings. Because there is only one true bread from heaven, all who believe in him are one body, eating and drinking spiritually from one great shared hope.
A Better Banquet
The act of eating and drinking together is a unifying, beautiful, and holy time to gather as the people of God, confess sins, and receive help as we eat and drink with Jesus. Paul appeals to that very picture in 1 Corinthians 1:18.
Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar?
The answer is Yes! All of those physically part of the old covenant with Israel were meant to come to the altar, eat and drink of the sacrifices as a meal with God, and celebrate their forgiveness as a people. They participated in the benefits of the sacrifice and ate and drank in the presence of God.
How much greater, then, is the new covenant family meal that celebrates the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins? How much greater that God no longer dwells in a temple far away, but instead indwells us as his temple so that when we come to the Table, Christ is with us by his Spirit? How much greater that we are not joined by circumcision into a physical, temporary nation, but instead joined by the blood of Christ into a spiritual, eternal family?
What a privilege to fellowship as a family with Christ. This privilege keeps us united and pressing on in holiness. This privilege provides empowering grace to help us fight sin so that we won’t mix fellowship with Christ and fellowship with sin. This is a meal to help us fix our eyes on Jesus and link arms as a family, as we walk forward together toward eternal glory in the strength that he supplies.
When we finally arrive, we will feast again together, joining in the wedding supper of the Lamb, free of sin, in the presence of Jesus, where there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.
So, come to the table as a blood-bought family, eager to receive all the grace you need in the fight of faith, and eat and drink with Jesus.