Communion Thought: Proclaiming His Death

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

The text of 1 Cor. 11:23-29 contains an interesting phrase: "proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes." What is it about the Lord’s Supper that says "Jesus is dead"? Why the emphasis on Jesus’ death rather than his resurrection. It seems strange to focus on the death of Jesus. The easy way out is to observe that his coming declares he is still alive, thus honoring the Bible truth that both his death and his resurrection are involved in our salvation.

Here’s the point. We declare the death of Jesus not only by meeting in a building away from most other people—we proclaim his death by dying to sin. Our lives declare the death of Jesus—but much more is involved than eating the loaf and sipping the juice. Indeed, if we do those things and do not give up sin, we make a mockery of his death.

We proclaim Jesus’ death is by being the body of Christ. We discern the body by recognizing that we are the body. We are Jesus incarnate on the earth. We are his body, called to do what Jesus did while he was on earth in his physical body--the mission of God: declaring the good news of the kingdom, doing works of compassion, and making disciples.

Therefore, the church--a community, and a temple of the Holy Spirit--recognizes the body of Christ and proclaims his death (and life through the church as his spiritual body) by acknowledging that we are united in the church and that we have been joined in the body to do the mission of God on earth, to continue what Jesus began. That is true recognition the continuance of his body. That is true proclamation of his death and of his continuing life among us and within us. Such reflections affirm that “the body” referred to in this text is both the crucified body of Christ and the church. “Body of Christ” is more than a metaphor to help us understand the church—it is also our job description.

When we take this spiritual meal together, we are strengthening our connection to the body. We are re-committing to the mission Jesus gave us. We are recommitting to do that mission as a body--with each part of the body doing its work. By becoming more and more what we are called to be, and by reflecting this identity in our assemblies and through the week, we proclaim the death of Jesus. We show that we have died because he has died. We also show that we live because he lives.

This is why we take this meal together--because being together shows the world how Jesus changes lives creating a holy community that shows the world who Jesus is and what he did at the cross.

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Last updated October 23, 2010.