I first wrote this post about Communion during the 2019 Passover and Easter season, in the middle of a series I was doing about the trials of Job. Have you ever wondered why out of all the hoopla from the Old Covenant we are released from observing, we have this odd little ritual of taking a sip of grape juice and a bite of cracker once a month as “an ordinance?” Why is this ritual important? During this Sukkot season in 2020, Feast of Tabernacles, the Lord has been drawing my attention to forgiveness and reconciliation. Communion is about the forgiveness of our sins against God, and also about the forgiveness of our sins against each other.
At Jesus’ last Passover meal, He commanded His disciples to “love one another.” He then took bread and wine and instituted the ordinance of Communion in remembrance of Him.
Jesus joined together our remembrance of how we were reconciled to God with a command to be reconciled to one another. Love one another and remember me.
The Corinthians were famously and sternly chastised for showing disdain for Communion by simultaneously degrading the poor believers and preferring the rich believers in how they served Communion. Paul even postulated in 1 Corinthians that God was cutting off the lives of some believers before they could damage their witness anymore than they had already with this egregious divorcing of the remembrance of Jesus’ atoning work from the Last Supper command to love your brothers and sisters in Christ.
The whole Gospel is prophetically unveiled in Job, and this continual reminder in Communion is not overlooked in the Job narrative– that the body and blood of Christ was broken and spilled not just for our atonement and reconciliation to God but also for our reconciliation to each other.
Job plots out the Gospel truth in this manner:
- Just as we are proclaimed blameless in faith, Job was proclaimed blameless in faith before his blamelessness was proven by trial (James 1:2-3).
- Just as God achieves that blamelessness in us by transforming us through the fiery trials of life, Job’s blamelessness was both started by God and completed by God. This is sanctification.
- Just as God revealed a greater understanding of Himself to Job as Job contemplated a future Redeemer, Mediator, and Advocate, we receive the very Revelation of God when we receive a very present Jesus.
- And though God had already accepted Job’s sin offerings in Job 1, He still required a guilt offering between Job and his friends. So has God already accepted Jesus as our sin offering, yet requires us to continually recall that Jesus is also the peace offering and the guilt offering between ourselves and other people.
There are five categories of sacrifices and offerings in the Torah. And Jesus has fulfilled them all. Yet, we do participate in these Old Testament sacrifices and rituals in the two ordinances that Jesus commanded as essential to our rebirth as new creations in Him.
We explored the first one in the last post. That is baptism. Our purification bath, required by the law, but we do it only once because Jesus was the last necessary purification sacrifice and therefore we need only a last purification bath when we proclaim dependence on Christ for our purification from sin and death.
But Communion– the peace and guilt offerings– we remember continually throughout our Christian walk. And we partake in it at church together.
Of the five types of offerings described in Leviticus 1-7, two were to reconcile men to each other.
A peace offering, also called a fellowship offering, established something like a contract between two parties. It signified before God that they were committed to fellowship with each other and were dedicated to each others’ future prosperity. This is the kind of offering Abraham shared with Melchizedek in Genesis 14; and that Abraham shared with the three visiting angels in Genesis 18.
A guilt offering was an offering that one person offered before God to another person if something the first person had done caused a loss to the second. The guilt offering also included a monetary compensation.
Job’s friends were probably offering a guilt offering to him. They nearly cost him his faith. God saw their sin against Job and demanded that for them to be right with Him they had to get right with Job.
This principle is reiterated to us by Jesus in Matthew 5:23, part of the Sermon on the Mount: “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”
This sheds light on the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our sins as we forgive one another.”
As in everything, Jesus is the all-encompassing sacrifice. He has done a completed work.
However, He puts a collective impetus on us to specifically and frequently remember the aspect of His sacrifice that was done to unify us to one another. If we are partakers in His sacrifice for our sins, we are also partakers in His sacrifice for our offenses to our brothers and sisters in the church.
This is Communion. It is Jesus as the sacrifice Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had to make to Job.
After the Lord finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has. So take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. Job 42:7-8
God deals with us individually and he deals with us collectively. He died for each of us individually and He died collectively for His Body.
His body was broken that we may be unified.
I am praying not just for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one– as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. John 17:20-23