Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
Matthew 26 contains one of the most well-known events in human history and certainly the most famous meal ever eaten, the Last Supper.
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As the disciples sat together, Jesus said, “‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood’” (1 Corinthians 11:24–25).
Jesus, as He often did, was speaking symbolically. To say He was speaking literally here does not fit with the word pictures He often used. After all, Jesus said He was the Bread of Life. And didn’t He say that He was the Door?
So, do we insist that Christ is an actual loaf of bread or a door? Of course not. Nor should we insist that the bread and the contents of the cup are actually Christ’s body and blood. There is no evidence of a supernatural process that transforms the cup’s contents into Jesus’ blood and the bread into His flesh.
Therefore, as we participate in Communion, we don’t want to overly mystify what it represents. We don’t want to think of the bread as flesh and the cup as containing blood.
On the other hand, we don’t want to devalue Communion by thinking it means nothing. Clearly, the Scriptures warn us about taking part in Communion without recognizing its significance (see 1 Corinthians 11:23–30).
The bread and the cup are not holy elements in and of themselves. But they do represent something that is very holy. So it is with great respect and reverence that we come to the Communion table, recognizing it is a symbol of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross.