What is Holy Communion?
I was brought up Catholic and although I knew about Holy Communion, I was never allowed to go up to the altar and receive it because I never took catechism. I never really thought about how important it is, so, as I grew in my Christianity I learned what it truly means and thought that if I was as confused than there has to be others as well. So, I am here to explain the truth about what Holy Communion means, who is allowed to receive it and what it means to us to partake of it.
If you have been brought up in church chances are that you are familiar with Holy Communion, or some form of it, such as Eucharist, the Holy Sacrament, the Last Supper, the Lord’s Supper, or the Sacrament. The phrase holy communion is defined as a spiritual union held by Christians to exist between individual Christians and Christ, the Church. In other words, one body of Christ joined together believing in the Gospel of Christ and remembering that His body and blood were offered for the atonement of their sins.
Holy Communion is the observance established by the Lord Jesus Christ during His last Passover meal with the disciples. “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” – Matthew 26:26-28.
How is Holy Communion Observed?
In most churches Holy Communion is observed by passing around wafers or pieces of bread and wine or juice. The bread represents the body of Christ, which signifies that you are one body in Christ when you accept Him as our Savior. The wine represents the blood of Christ that was shed for the remission or atonement of your sins when He died on the cross.
Before I go any further it is important to understand the fault in some churches that use alcoholic wine for giving Holy Communion, this is wrong since Christ would not have been drinking that kind of wine. Jesus would have been drinking grape juice, which is also know as wine. There are two types of wine, fermented, which has been turned into alcohol, and non-fermented, which is the juice of any kind of fruit. Jesus made and would have been drinking the non-fermented type. When Jesus was being crucified they tried to give him fermented wine and He refused to drink it. “And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.” – Mark 15:23. Why? If Jesus drank of this wine He would have been committing sin as alcohol causes drunkenness, which is a sin. Therefore, if He were to remain sinless He would not have been drinking something that would cause Him to commit sin.
By partaking in Holy Communion we are in a fellowship that allows God to impart His very life on us. “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” – John 6:54-56. When we take the bread, we show our participation, acceptance, and fellowship with Christ. We show our desire to be one with Him.
Who Can Receive Holy Communion?
Many have taught that you can only partake of Holy Communion if you have been baptized in to the true church, or having received confirmation, or having never committed a serious sin, but this is not true. The taking of communion is for anyone who is saved, that means anyone who has personally accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. This is something that can be done daily, but usually it is done in church on a monthly basis or during special observances.
The Word of God simply says we are to receive the body and the blood in a thoughtful and worthy manner. This does not mean that we are actually eating His flesh or drinking His blood, it means we are simple observing the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us. The Lord Himself instituted Communion as an ongoing observance to commemorate His death and soon return. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” – 1 Corinthians 11:26-29.
This means that before we partake of Holy Communion we should examine ourselves before God. Every time we participate in this observance, we are calling to our remembrance of what Christ’s sacrificial death means to us. It is also to be observed by every believer until that day when we share it with Him in His Father’s Kingdom. Praise God!