Have you ever thought about the beauty of the Lord’s Supper? Unfortunately, we can merely go through the motions when it comes to this ordinance in the Christian faith. I want to highlight a few key reminders regarding the bread and the cup. I hope it will give us a renewed perspective as you partake with your church family. Let’s look together at the multi-directional aspect of the Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Supper Points Backward
First, the Lord’s Supper points back to the death of Christ on our behalf. In this way, it points beyond Christ to what he came to fulfill and accomplish. To get a fuller scope of the beauty of Christ’s sacrifice and what it means for us, we could think of the Passover. God miraculously preserved his people through the blood of a lamb. They were spared by His grace, and this event testified to His people about His steadfast and abiding love.
The Lord’s Supper can be seen as a fulfillment of the Passover supper. Instead of reflecting on the deliverance and freedom that God provided in the Exodus, we can see the deliverance and freedom that Christ provides – the ultimate redemption in His blood.
As we take of communion, Paul tells us that we proclaim the Lord’s death until he returns (1 Cor. 11:26). It is not merely a remembrance but an act of proclamation. We are trusting in Him and what He accomplished for us. His past action is our present hope. And it is also our future hope.
The Lord’s Supper Points Forward
The Lord’s Supper also points forward. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:26 that we are to partake until Christ returns. Regardless of what we are going through, the Supper points ahead to Christ’s return. It directs our attention to the day when Christ’s victory will have its full effect on everything.
The Lord’s Supper points us to the marriage supper of the lamb when the church, Christ’s bride, celebrates and enjoys sinless fellowship with Christ. The Lord’s Supper is a preparation for that day. Preparing the bride for the bridegroom as she reflects through communion on His loving work on Calvary.
The Lord’s Supper Binds Horizontally
Whenever the Lord’s Supper is mentioned, it is with the gathered people of God. The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance meant to be done together. It also references the church’s abuses and disunity regarding how this ordinance was practiced. Paul rebukes their disunity and frames the Supper as a way in which they should be unified. In the Supper, we are reminded of our unity with one another. As one commentator says, “The breaking of his literal body binds Christians together in his mystical body.”
As we come to the table, we are reminded that we are one at the foot of the cross. As Paul said in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We are one. All our differences are set aside, and we recognize together that we are dependent on God’s grace. His finished work welcomes us into His family, not anything we bring. As the lyrics of Rock of Ages say, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the Cross I cling.”
As you partake, each one is different and unique, but each one is bound together by One greater. There is unity and oneness in the Supper. That is one reason I appreciate using broken crackers in communion. Instead of an individually packaged cracker, the broken cracker can symbolize the one body that has been broken, just as we have a shared Jesus whose one body was broken for all of us. This relates well with 1 Corinthians 10:17, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”
The Lord’s Supper Enriches Vertically
Another element in the Lord’s Supper is that it enriches us vertically. It is not necessary for salvation; we need to be clear there. But it does have a type of maturing grace as we are reminded of what God has done for us in Christ. God uses it to nourish us, making the Gospel visible to us.
I preached on Corinthians 10 a few years ago, which helped me recognize this aspect’s beauty and importance. Verse 16 says, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” There is a sense where communion is a participation – where God spiritually unites us to Himself and enriches us. We are not saying that the elements change into something else. But biblically, it does appear that God uses this as a means of grace to nourish His people spiritually.
The Lord’s Supper is multidimensional. It points backward to something that has been accomplished for us. It points forward to our future hope and the future hope of all who believe in the Lord Jesus. And the Supper binds Christians together, specifically the local church. God uses this to nourish us and equip us. He does this as we are reminded of these glorious truths. May we be unified in Christ as a local body. May God bind us with His love and nourish us by His grace to live transformed lives for His glory and our neighbor’s good.
 Stephen T. Um, 1 Corinthians: The Word of the Cross, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2015).