The Lord’s Supper is the act Christians partake of as commanded by Jesus in Matthew 26:17-31, Mark 14:12-26, and Luke 22:7-38. Luke 22:19-20 says, “And he took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’” Even Paul commands us to do this in 1 Corinthians 11. Verses 28 and 29 of this chapter say, “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.” These verses tell us we must partake of the Lord’s Supper to remember what He did for us.
Passover is a major Jewish festival that commemorates God’s delivering of the Israelites from Egypt. God told the Israelites to kill a perfect lamb and put the blood on the door. They were to eat all of the lamb after it was roasted over a fire. The firstborn of those who did not obey were killed by the Lord. God passed over the houses of those who obeyed. After Pharaoh’s son died, he told them to leave. God told the Israelites in Exodus 12:14-20 to commemorate that day for generations to come. The Passover and the Lord’s Supper are connected. In the Passover a perfect lamb was killed as a sacrifice to save the people. This perfect lamb represents and was a foreshadowing of Jesus, the perfect sacrifice to take away all sins of Christians. In the Lord’s Supper the disciples ate the bread and drank the wine to remember that Jesus body was about to be broken and his blood about to be spilt. Both the Passover and the Lord’s Supper point to Jesus’ death. The Lord’s Supper also took place during the Passover celebration.
The breaking of the bread represents the breaking of Jesus’ body on the cross. Matthew 26:26 says, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’” The wine represents Jesus’ blood that was spilt. Matthew 26:27-29 says, “Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.’” John 6:53-58 says that those who eat His flesh and drink His blood will have eternal life.
There are many different views of the bread and wine. The two main doctrines were developed during the early medieval church by Rabanus and Ratramnus, and Radbertus. Paschasius Radbertus believed that when consumed, the bread actually becomes Jesus’ body and the wine actually becomes His blood. Rabanus and Ratramnus wrote treatises on their ideas and stated that when you eat the bread and drink the wine, you are connected spiritually by faith. The Lord’s Supper is not a second sacrifice, but a memorial of Christ’s sacrifice. During that time, Radbertus’ view was accepted most. Radbertus derived a literal meaning out of the message of Matthew 26:26-29. That is, he based his idea on the actual words in their original meaning. Rabanus and Ratramnus derived a symbolic meaning out of the Scripture. Today, most Catholics accept Radbertus’ view of communion and most Protestants accept Rabanus and Ratramnus’ view.
The Lord’s Supper has been a big doctrinal issue since the early middle ages. It is clear that as Christians, we must partake of it to remember Jesus’s sacrifice. The way in which we do it has been a major issue.