The most famous story of communion in the Bible is the story of The Last Supper. It was Jesus’ last dinner with His disciples before He was killed. You can read the story (and if you’re going to host communion you’ll definitely want to) in Matthew 26, Luke 22, and Mark 14. It happened as part of the celebration of Passover which was actually a festival that began in the Old Testament period. Jewish people would have celebrated Passover as a way to remember how God brought them out of Egypt and spared their lives in so many ways. The eating of the bread and drinking of the wine that led to what we call communion is still a regular part of celebrating Passover that Jewish people and some Christians celebrate each year.
With Passover as the setting, Jesus took the bread, broke it, yet didn’t follow the typical Passover tradition. He said, “Eat. This is My body.” Then, with the cup of wine, He explained further.
Taking the cup and thanking God, he gave it to them:
Drink this, all of you. This is my blood,
God’s new covenant poured out for many people for the forgiveness of sins.
In Luke’s Gospel, he included a few more of Jesus’ words from that evening, “do this in remembrance of me.” Those six words, and the Apostle Paul’s reminder in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, are the motivation for why we take communion together as Jesus followers. Jesus asked us to carry out this simple tradition to remember that He gave His life for our lives. That He was poured out to wash away our sins. Like baptism, communion is a spiritual symbol and reminder of what Jesus has done. But it holds power not only as a symbol, it also reminds us to invite the Holy Spirit to examine our lives and to continue to do His work of washing us by the grace of Jesus.
After taking communion, Jesus and His followers walked to the Mount of Olives where Jesus prayed His famous prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane only hours before He was arrested and eventually died so that we could truly live.
Ideas for Taking Communion at Home
- If your LifeGroup or family isn’t familiar with the meaning of communion, use the Scriptures above to explain how it came about and what it’s for.
- Jesus and His followers used wine and unleavened bread, but it’s simplest to use grape juice and whatever bread or crackers you have available. Using juice is a great way to involve children while also being sensitive to anyone who might not drink alcohol. If you really want to use unleavened bread, a matzo cracker is a great option. If you can’t find grape juice, another juice or even water will do — whatever you have on hand. What’s important is focusing on the meaning of this spiritual symbol.
- Ask one person to pray for the bread and lead the group in this first part of communion. Here’s an example:We take this bread, a symbol of Jesus’ body. Jesus asked us to eat this to remember that He gave His body for us. Let’s pray. God, thank You for sending Jesus who not only lived for us, but died for us. The Son of God, who came in the body of a man, gave Himself up so we could live! Thank You that His body was raised back to life. Thank You that because of the grace of Jesus we have real life, and we can live forever in You. Amen. Okay, go ahead and eat the bread.
- Next, ask someone else to pray for the cup and lead the group in this second part of communion. Here’s an example:Take this cup, a symbol of Jesus’ blood. Jesus asked us to drink this cup to remember that our sins are washed by the powerful new covenant Jesus made possible between us and God. Let’s pray. God, what an incredible picture this is of Your love for us. You allowed Your only Son to literally be poured out so that we could be in a fully restored relationship with You. Thank You, Jesus, for giving your blood. Amen. Go ahead and drink the cup.
- Remembering what Jesus did while taking communion can feel like a somber moment, and that’s okay. But don’t forget, this is an incredible reason to celebrate. Ask some people in your group to come ready to share a story of something that Jesus has restored in their life. Encourage your group to not just experience the symbol of communion but to live in its truth. We are set free because Jesus is alive and giving us life to the full.
- Ask your group to reflect and share anything they felt like God might have been helping them to see or remember while they were taking communion.
We hope you take communion at home soon. It’s a wonderful way for followers of Jesus to do something He asked us to, which is to remember what He did for us. And it’s the perfect time to thank Him for His grace which gives us life.