It should be undeniable by all that the Bibles teaching relative to the Lords Supper should occupy a place in Great Truths. "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the Kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, this is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, this cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you" (Lk. 22: 17-20). There are many great memorials, but the memorial which remembers Jesus is the greatest of all!
The institution of the Lords Supper. Jesus, as just seen, introduced this memorial (Matt. 26: 26-30, Mk. 14: 22-26). He instituted it at the last Passover, the day of his betrayal (Lk. 22: 14 ff.). The Lords Supper has apostolic sanction (Acts 20: 7). Synonyms or words denoting the same memorial are: "Lords Supper" (I Cor. 11: 20), "communion" (I Cor. 10: 16, 17), "breaking bread" (Acts 2: 42), 20: 7), and Lords table" (I Cor. 11: 21). The noun "eucharist" is derived from the Greek eucharistia, gave thanks (Matt. 26: 27). However, Eucharist was not used for the Lords Supper until the Second Century (after inspiration ended).
An examination of I Corinthians 11: 23-26. It is apparent from this passage that the Lords Supper is essentially a proclamation. It proclaims Christ, he did live (vs. 24), he "vicariously" died (vs. 24), and he is coming again (vs. 26). The memorial proclaims the establishment of the Kingdom (Lk. 22: 29, 30) and the New Testament (Matt. 26: 28, Heb. 9: 16, 17). In retrospection, we remember Jesus, his suffering, death, and triumph over the grave. In introspection, we examine ourselves (I Cor. 11: 28, more later), and prospectively, we look forward to Jesus second coming in judgment (I Cor. 11: 24, 25, 26).
The emblems used for the instituting of the Lords Supper. There was the "bread" and the "cup." Unleavened bread was used, as this was the bread present for the Passover (Lk. 22: 14 ff.). The "cup" is the fruit of the vine," the juice from the grape (Matt. 26: 29, cup, the container, is used by way of metonymy to stand for the contained). Jesus said, "take eat, this is my body this is my blood " (Matt. 26: 26, 28). We are told transubstantiation (the bread and blood become the actual body and blood of Jesus) was first significantly taught in a sermon by Hildebert in 1134 A.D. Transubstantiation, however, was not officially accepted by the Catholic Church until 1215 A.D. It is clear to the serious Bible student, though, that the bread and fruit of the vine stand for or, better stated, cause us to remember the sacrificial body and blood of Jesus (cf. Gal. 4: 24, 25). It is also clear the fruit of the vine was unfermented, corresponding to the unleavened bread (bread free of impurities, Prov. 23: 31).
Place and time of the observance of the Lords Supper. Jesus memorial is to be observed in the Kingdom (Lk. 22: 29, 30, those who teach the Kingdom is yet future are inconsistent the Kingdom came, Col. 1: 13, Acts 2: 42, 20: 7, I Cor. 11: 23 ff.). The church partakes, not as a collective action, as such, but distributively the Lords table is observed in the assembly but on an individual level or manner (I Cor. 11: 28). The observance of the Lords Supper is one of the several commands which necessitate the assembled local church (I Cor. 11: 18-26, see also 16: 1, 2). The first day of the week is the day for the observance of breaking of bread (Acts 20: 7). They, the Christians at Troas, did not just happen to partake on the Lords day, it was deliberate (Acts 20: 6, 7). When one is aware of the significance attached to the Lords day in the New Testament, one does not have any difficulty with the day (Sunday) of observance.
The breaking of bread was a regular and static act of Lords day public worship performed by the Jerusalem church (Acts 2: 42). Semiannual or annual observance will not satisfy the description in Acts 2: 42. Since the Lords Supper is mentioned along with other regular acts of public worship, why should it seem strange to suggest that the breaking of bread was done each Lords day? Many of the early historians remark that the frequency of the Lords table was each Lords day. Tertullian (204 A.D.) wrote: "The church of Christ composed of baptized believers, does meet each Lords day to partake of the Lords Supper ." (See "Quotations," accessed from the home page, for more information.) John Mason, noted Presbyterian scholar, wrote: "Communion every Lords day was universal, and was preserved in the Greek church till the Seventh Century" (Church History for Busy People, pg. 86, I might add, I Cor. 11: 26, "for as often ", does not negate or preclude the verses which show how often). The Lords Supper is for Christians, not the world, I might also inject (I Cor. 11: 23-26).
Manner of observance. As seen, the supper (the idea of "supper" is from "to sup," not the Southern "supper") is a memorial of Jesus (Lk. 22: 19). There is to be individual self-examination (I Cor. 11: 28). All minds should be on Jesus great sacrifice and his coming again if not, one is guilty of not partaking worthily (I Cor. 11: 29, ASV).
The question is sometimes raised, "what should be the practice of the local church if one wants to partake who was not present when the others partook?" The ideal practice is: " the whole church be assembled together " (I Cor. 14: 23). Since most local churches meet twice on Sunday, there are occasions when a member can not be present at the morning service, but is able to attend the afternoon service. There was provision made for the Jew(s) who was legitimately prevented from being present when the others observed the Passover (Num. 9: 9-11). Of course, there are a number of dissimilarities between the observance of the Passover and the Lords Supper. Those who believe so strongly in "concurrent action" associated with the Lords Supper that say they should also partake (second time) along with the one(s) who were unable to partake Sunday morning, should be allowed to follow their conscience, I am convinced. However, those who do not choose to partake a second time the same day should also be allowed to follow their conscience. The Lords Supper which should be unifying should not be allowed to become a source of division! Wise elders will see that such an issue does not become division, if possible. (To read more about the "second serving" controversy, click on "The Lord's Supper, the 'Second Serving' Controversy."
In conclusion, the Lords Supper celebrates Jesus Christ. The weekly Lords day observance should cause the Christian to continue to focus on Christ and his glorious resurrection and great love. It is also a constant reminder that Jesus who ascended to heaven "shall so come in like manner " (Acts 1: 11). (Consider, "I Corinthians 11: 20-22, 33, 34, What Were They Doing?")