Communion, Lord’s Supper, taking the Eucharist. Whatever your church calls it, how they celebrate it, or how often they celebrate it, did you know there’s a biblical way to prepare for it?
Quick Bible Lesson (to Make You Look Super Smart in Front of Your Kids)
Jesus shared the last supper with the twelve disciples on the night before His crucifixion. After dinner was over, things moved fast from praying to betrayal to sentencing to death. But before all of that happened, while Jesus was mindful of all that was about to happen, he took the time to do this. Why?
It’s not a coincidence that Jesus’ death happened during the Passover celebration. If you remember, Passover is the Jewish celebration of God rescuing His people from Egypt. You can read all about it in Exodus 7-12. Don’t be scared off by how long it looks like it is to read. It’s riveting, and it moves quickly!
The final plague was the death of the firstborn males. From pharaoh’s firstborn son to the firstborn males among the cattle, all the firstborn males were to be struck dead. Yikes. God saved Israel’s firstborn males by giving them an assignment: sacrifice a lamb, “paint” the blood on your doorposts, and God’s judgment will “pass over” your home, leaving your firstborn son alive. Every year, the Jews celebrate Passover in a similar way (minus the blood on the door!). This reminds them of God’s deliverance and of the importance of being obedient.
Fast forward to Jesus’ life. It’s Passover weekend when Jesus is to die. Tons of symbolism, right? Jesus becomes the Passover lamb, whose blood will save His people from the judgment of (spiritual) death. Jesus, the firstborn male not spared, saves everyone else because He is the only worthy sacrifice. Today, we do what Jesus said and continue to celebrate that last meal with His disciples by taking bread and wine and remembering His sacrifice. By having that meal, Jesus was being obedient in observing Passover, but He was also pointing to God’s fulfilling His promise of a Savior.
Not Just a Ritual
Communion isn’t just about rote obedience, like, “Jesus said to do it, so I am. Check my obedience box.” It’s more about the attitude of the heart than the act. Why did Jesus want us to keep this up, anyway? It’s an important question.
Here’s what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11: 23-29 (NASB):
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.
In practical terms, what does this mean? That word unworthy is the opposite of the Greek word axios (worthy), which describes someone who deserves something worth having.
The word we have translated as examine is also translated in other places in the NASB as test, prove, see fit, approve, and trying to learn. The idea is that you’re looking at something to see if it’s genuine or not. Is it what it seems to be, or presents itself to be? In this case, “something” is yourself.
Put It Together
Putting that together, it means that before you take communion, you need to take the time to look at yourself, look into your own heart, and get right before the Lord. Do you deserve to take communion? Is your heart genuinely submitted to the Lord? Are you the Christian you seem to be, or is there stuff in your heart you’re trying to hide? Root it out, ask God to reveal your own heart to you, and ask for forgiveness where you need it. Be thankful. Long for your heart to be Christ-shaped. That’s what it would look like to be worthy of communion.
It sounds like a lot, but really, these are the things we should be doing regularly. And they aren’t too difficult to teach kids. Here’s a 3-step way to prepare for communion, regardless of age.
Step 1–Think about how you’re doing in God’s eyes.
As a believer, He already sees you as covered by grace. But He also sees your areas of struggles and failures. Is there anything you’re struggling with? Is there anything you should be struggling with, but you aren’t ready to give it up? What might disappoint God in your life right now? These are the kinds of things to bring to the surface as you prepare for communion.
Younger kids: What do you want God to help you do better?
You may have to steer this a little bit, depending on how your child answers. They need to be taught what you’re asking. “I want God to help me draw horses better” isn’t what we’re after! “I want God to help me share with my sister” is more like it.
Older kids: God has a custom-made design for your life. How close to that are you living? What are your struggles in that right now?
If your child is having trouble answering this question, look at it as an opportunity to spend some one-on-one time (during the week) talking about God’s plan for your child. By that, I don’t mean who to take to homecoming, where to go to college, what activities to pursue, etc. Examples of what I mean–Who can I reach or minister to in my life? Where do I need to strengthen my character? Am I doing things that are un-Christlike?
Younger kids: Teach them how to pray and ask for forgiveness, and for help.
Keep it simple so they don’t lose focus.
Older kids: If you need to, teach them how to ask for forgiveness and help from God.
Part of this is asking for sensitivity to the Holy Spirit when He is convicting your child, and then the strength and wisdom to act on it. If your child already understands repentance, encourage him to do that hard work. Be humble and specific before the Lord.
Step 3–Give thanks.
Younger kids: First, thank God for forgiveness of what you just talked to Him about. Now thank Him for communion.
Older kids: Thank God for His grace and forgiveness in light of what you just confessed. Thank Him for who He is, and be specific.
For example, do you want to thank Him for being loving, forgiving, wise, creative, powerful, etc.? Then thank Him for His sacrifice that you will remember when you take communion.
Think. Repent. Thank. Those are your three steps.
I know, we’re all busy and it’s hard to find time for even the simplest spiritual disciplines. This is a place of grace, though, so here are a few realistic suggestions:
- In the car on the way to church.
- In the car on the way home from school Friday.
- Remind everyone during dinner Friday or Saturday night, then take a few minutes at the end of the meal to sit quietly and do it together, silently if everyone is old enough.
What are some other times or places we can be doing this with our kids? Or reminding them to do it if they’re teens? Comment with some suggestions.
It’s one of those things that can easily become a habit, but the hard part is making it a habit! But really, think about how doing this every time would transform your communion experience. And frankly, your walk with the Lord.