May 12, 2022 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Ted N.C. Wilson, President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Hello, friends! In our time together today, we will consider the ordinance of “The Lord’s Supper.” Much of what I will be sharing with you comes from our Seventh-day Adventist Church’s website at the URL shown on the screen below [www.adventist.org/the-lords-supper/] and I encourage you to visit the site for more information.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church sees the Lord’s Supper as so vital that it has been included in one of our biblically-based Fundamental Beliefs as Belief # 16, which reads as follows:
“The Lord’s Supper is a participation in the emblems of the body and blood of Jesus as an expression of faith in Him, our Lord and Saviour.
In this experience of communion Christ is present to meet and strengthen His people. As we partake, we joyfully proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again.
Preparation for the Supper includes self-examination, repentance, and confession. The Master ordained the service of foot-washing to signify renewed cleansing, to express a willingness to serve one another in Christlike humility, and to unite our hearts in love.
The communion service is open to all believing Christians.”
You see, the Lord’s Supper, celebrated today as a communion service, is an opportunity for believers to honor the gift of God in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In doing this, the apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:26: “You proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”
The Lord’s Supper follows the words of Jesus during the Last Supper He ate before His crucifixion. He and His disciples came together to celebrate the Passover meal, in remembrance of Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. This time, however, as they partook of the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine, Jesus gave new meaning to these items.
And even before they ate together, Jesus demonstrated His love for His disciples and us by performing a servant’s job. He washed His disciples’ feet. By doing this, He showed an example of kindness and unconditional love.
The three significant parts of a Seventh-day Adventist communion service involves eating unleavened bread, drinking grape juice, and washing one another’s’ feet. All these things are symbolic of Christ’s sacrifice to save us, and the humble, servant-like example He set.
These actions follow Jesus’ words to His disciples: “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19, ESV).
The bread represents Christ’s body, broken for us. In Matthew 26:26 we read— “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.'”
Jesus was standing before His disciples as He said this, communicating that this was to be a symbol of remembrance of what He was about to do.
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus said (John 6:48). He went on to explain, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).
In giving His body for the world, God made a way for us to be saved from the eternal consequences of sin. By believing in and accepting Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus, the true bread of Heaven, satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts. This “true bread” symbolizes a spiritual nourishment to completely satisfy the soul hunger. Accepting Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, will fill our hearts with meaning and love, and gives us eternal The bread served during the communion service is unleavened, and there is an interesting reason for that.
During the Passover, God instructed the Israelites to be ready to leave as soon as Pharaoh gave his consent, so they baked unleavened cakes of dough. Through the years, as the Israelites celebrated the Passover, they used unleavened bread as a reminder of their hasty exodus from Egypt.
The Apostle Paul added additional meaning to eating unleavened bread at times of remembrance when he wrote to the Corinthian church:
“Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
“Therefore,” he continued, “let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:6-8, NKJV).
The fruit of the vine symbolizes Jesus’ blood that was shed for us. “This is My blood of the new covenant,” said Jesus, “which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). And in Hebrews 9:22 we read, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
Seventh-day Adventists believe the fruit of the vine used in the Passover celebration was unfermented grape juice. After partaking of the cup, Jesus said, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29).
When we consider the ways fermented wine is condemned in Scripture, Seventh-day Adventists seek to commemorate Christ’s sacrifice for us with a clear, unclouded mind.
“Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” we read in Proverbs 20:1.
And in Proverbs 23:31, 32 we read: “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper.”
Only pure grape juice, freshly squeezed from the vine, is a fitting symbol of the perfect blood of Christ, shed for the redemption of mankind.
The foot-washing service we practice as Seventh-day Adventists follows Jesus’ words and actions in John 13:
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (vs. 14, 15, ESV).
In performing the humble act of washing the feet of His disciples, Jesus gave us an example of true greatness. During a communion service today, most Adventist churches provide bowls, water, and cloths for a ceremonial foot washing called the “Ordinance of Humility.”
This is a special time of fellowship, of putting aside differences in status, or position, serving our brothers and sisters in the faith, and making our hearts right with each other and God.
Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper to commemorate our deliverance from the burden of sin. It is the new covenant service that continues the solemn celebration of the Passover. During this last supper with His disciples, Jesus gave us an example. He broke bread and shared the fruit of the vine with His disciples and asked them to remember the sacrifice He was about to make for them—for all of us.
The Passover was a reminder of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. The Lord’s Supper is a reminder of our personal deliverance from the slavery of sin. We have been redeemed, not with gold or silver, but “with the precious blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
Communion is the perfect time to be thinking about how we can grow in Christ and best honor Him with our lives. Jesus, our Savior, has given the opportunity for salvation to every person. By His perfect life, His sacrificial death, and His resurrection, we are invited to come to His table, experience His love, and be saved for eternity.
Let’s thank Him for His wonderful gift just now. Father in heaven. Thank you for this amazing understanding of what communion means. The body and blood of Jesus Christ. Symbolic of that, of course. Unleavened bread, pure and fermented grape juice, symbolizing what Jesus did for us on the cross. And Lord, we thank you that we can also participate in the ordinance of humility, of serving each other and realizing we are all equal at the foot of the cross. Now, Lord bless us as we move into our witness for you based upon this wonderful participation in communion service, which tells us about Christ’s great love for us, and the salvation made possible through his broken body and the blood spilled on Calvary. We thank you also for the intercessory ministry that you are carrying on right now as our High Priest in the most holy place, all embodied in the salvation of Jesus Christ. For us, the everlasting gospel. Thank you. In Jesus name. Amen.