What is Communion?

November 7, 2021

David Sorn

What are the main disagreements about communion? And what does the Bible actually say communion is?

What is Communion?

November 7, 2021

David Sorn

What are the main disagreements about communion? And what does the Bible actually say communion is?



Morning. My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.

We are continuing in our series on the Book of Luke in the Bible this morning.

Luke is 1 of 4 books in the Bible about the life, teachings, death, & resurrection of Jesus.

And today, we come to what is known as the Last Supper, or the Lord’s Supper, or simply, communion.

And arriving at this passage is kind of a neat opportunity for us, because as Christians, many of you have participated in communion hundreds of times in your life, but we rarely get a full 30 minutes to ONLY study communion

So my prayer is that this message not only enriches your understanding for today, but for the many future times you will take communion as well.

Let’s open up our Bibles together

There is a Bible under the chair in front of you

(Page 720)

You can also find it on our Renovation Church App, just tap Bible, and Weekly Verses

We are in Chapter 22 of Luke, and just to give you context of where we are, chapters 19-24 all take place in what Christians call “Holy Week”

Sunday, the first day of that week (in chapter 19) is where Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey

He’s killed on a Friday

And he rises from the dead on Easter Sunday

We are currently in Thursday of that Holy Week

And so, Jesus is going to have the last Supper on Thursday night, he’ll be arrested later that same evening, and be put on the cross the very next morning.

Let’s jump into our passage

(Luke 22:7-14) – NIV

7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”

9 “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.

10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”

13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table.

Okay, so this is the set-up to the Last Supper.

Jesus is having 2 of his disciples make preparations for the meal.

And it’s not just any meal they’re going to eat in this Upper Room, it’s the Passover.

Passover is more than just a random holiday you see on your iPhone calendar once a year.

It’s a holy day that God told the Israelites to remember every year, and a holiday that the Jewish Community celebrates to this day, and something Christians should know and understand

Passover is a celebration that commemorates what God did in the book of Exodus (the 2nd book of the bible)

In fact, we did a 20-week series where we taught through the Book of Exodus, and you can find that on our website if you want to study it more.

There are hours and hours of content on there for you to study.

But I’ll give you the 60-second summary right now.

God’s people were enslaved in Egypt, and God uses Moses as a leader to confront the Egyptian Pharaoh, and Moses tells him that God says to “Let my people go!”

But Pharaoh says, “NO!”

And so God sends 10 plagues upon the Egyptians for their sin, and Pharaoh continues to say “no,” until ultimately the 10th plague,

which is the death of the firstborn sons.

All of the firstborn sons were to be killed (even the Israelite ones…no one was safe) UNLESS they sacrificed a lamb in their place, and put the blood of the lamb on the tops and sides of their doorframes (as a sign that they believed God at his Word)

And if they did that, when the angel of death came in the 10th plague, he would PASS OVER their door, and they wouldn’t die.

Then, God commanded the Israelites to celebrate this PASSOVER every year for future generations, so that they would always remember how He delivered them

And the actual Passover meal is rich with symbolism (including a lamb) to help you remember what God did.

So, it’s THAT meal that Jesus and his disciples are going to celebrate for this, his Last Supper

Okay, now that we know that…let’s keep reading.


(Luke 22:15-18) – NIV

15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

We’re actually going to see that Jesus distributes multiple cups in this passage, and that’s because the Passover meal (which they are eating), actually had 4 different cups.

And as we start to dive into the actual verses about communion, what I want to do is answer this question on the screen: “What is communion?”

It sounds like a really basic question, but it’s actually not basic at all.

It’s a huge question that has divided entire denominations in church history.

And that’s because people have ALL SORTS of different ideas on what one is supposed to do during communion, what happens during communion, and what communion accomplishes (or doesn’t accomplish) for us

We could literally spend hours talking about all of the different beliefs out there.

So, what is communion?

What Is Communion?

1. Communion is a look forward, not just backward

This is interesting: When we take communion (or the Lord’s Supper), many people assume it’s only to look backwards, and indeed, that is the primary direction in which we look

But it’s also a time for us to look forward

Look at verse 16 again.

Jesus says, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the Kingdom of God”

The Passover, this meal, will find it’s fulfillment later

Or Verse 18, he says he won’t drink again, from the fruit of the vine, until the Kingdom comes.

That’s TWICE in this same little passage about the Lord’s Supper that Jesus points us FORWARD, not backward!

What’s Jesus talking about? And why the emphasis on this?

Jesus is referring to what, in the Bible, is called, “The Wedding Supper of the Lamb” (Jesus being the lamb)

Jesus has already talked about it multiple times in Luke.

In fact, we did a whole message on it in Luke 14 if you want to check that out

You can also read about it Revelation 19

This Great Feast happens when human history as we know it on earth wraps up, Jesus comes back, and all of his believers gather together at one incredible feast and party.

It’s a Wedding Feast because Scripture says Jesus it the Groom, and His Church is the Bride

And that feast is the ultimate fulfillment of Passover…

It’s when we all dine, in person, with the lamb (Jesus) who was slain for us…whose blood covered us.

So when we take communion, we not only look backward to the cross, but we look forward to the great feast, where one day all of our sufferings will be over, and we will feast with the groom, the lamb, Jesus


Okay, let’s keep reading:

(Luke 22:19-20) – NIV

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

And so Jesus takes these two items, the bread and the wine, and they become important symbols…symbols for us to what?

Look at the end of verse 19:

We are to REMEMBER Him through these symbols.

So it’s something that Christians should partake in, and make a general practice of the church (although Jesus doesn’t say how often)

Sometimes I meet people and they say, “How come we don’t do communion on the 1st Sunday of the month! We need to do it on the first Sunday of the month!’

And I always say, “we’ll do that as soon as you show me that’s in Scripture and not you’re your church tradition you grew up in”

But are to do it…

And we are to do it in what?

In remembrance of him.

And this REMEMBRANCE focus is key:

In fact, that’s our 2nd point when we think about WHAT Communion really is.

What Is Communion?

1. Communion is a look forward, not just backward

2. Communion is a call to remembrance, not a disbursement of grace

But this is where the confusion really comes in for a lot of people

Many people believe that communion is about more than just REMEMBERING

Particularly here in the Upper Midwest where the vast majority of people grew up either Catholic or Lutheran

And so, this is great that we can talk about this

In fact, let’s look now exactly at what both the Catholic Church and Lutheran Church teaches when it comes to communion…

I’ll quote from Catholic and Lutheran sources here as I want to make sure this is conveyed accurately:

Catholic Theology teaches what is called: “Transubstantiation”

Transubstantiation: The belief that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus.

If you’ve ever been to a Catholic Mass, communion (or the Eucharist as it’s called there) is the high point.

In fact, you may even say it is THE point.

Catholics believe that through the Eucharist, the Lord Christ is contained, offered, and received by the person partaking.

They also believe that as the priest goes through the ritual of mass, that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is made present once again to God, it is re-presented, so that Catholics may share in its grace through the Eucharist .

And yet much of this is not what we see in this Scripture passage, or throughout Scripture.

First of all, we’re commanded right here in Luke 22 to take communion in remembrance…the meaning is symbolic.

Yes, Jesus does say, “this is my body,” but the meaning is clearly symbolic, not literal.

Think contextually: His body was right there as he said that, and the bread was in his hand. The bread was not his body.

Jesus uses many metaphors like this:

He says, “I am the vine, but we don’t literally think he’s a plant”

He says, “I am the door” and so on

But the greater theological error that has arisen out of this false teaching is that many feel (even in our Bible-believing churches) that communion still has some sort of mystical property to it.

That it’s somehow necessary to partake in often (I think this is why people get nervous if it’s been 5 or 6 weeks),

“”They feel that if it’s been too long then our faith, or our standing with God, is somehow going to suffer.

I can’t tell you how often I have this conversation with Christians

And I think it comes out of this unscriptural belief that a special disbursement of grace and forgiveness is happening in communion

Let me give you an example of this: I had already decided where I was going to college before I became a Christian, and I ended up at a Catholic University, as a baby Christian of a few months

And during years I was there, I attended Catholic Mass often, to learn more about what it was

And I was always blown away by the hundreds and hundreds of students I would see there, many of whom had spent the entire weekend partying, drunk, and sleeping around…but would never miss mass.

And yet, when we tried to witness to them on campus about Jesus, they would say, “Oh, I don’t want to talk about God!”

Yet, they’d NEVER miss mass!

Now, I’m not saying the Catholic Church would condone their lifestyle on the weekends…I know for a fact that they wouldn’t

But communion (or the Eucharist) for many of these students was a disbursement of grace, of forgiveness

“”Jesus’ sacrifice was once again presented by the priest, they received Jesus, and their sins (they felt), were once again forgiven, so they could thus carry on living how they wanted

I’m not even saying the serious Catholic treats communion in that calloused way (although they do believe that the sacrament of the Eucharist is a MEANS OF GRACE)

Here’s what I’m saying…

There is absolutely a danger in falsely believing that communion is a way in which we receive grace and forgiveness…because that’s not what the Bible teaches.

In fact, that’s a very dangerous contradiction to the rest of Scripture.

If you could somehow receive grace and forgiveness through communion, that means that you could then earn your way to God through your deeds (like taking communion once a week or once a month)

And the main point of Paul’s letters in the NT is that grace means you can’t earn it!

It’s by faith we’ve been saved.

Now, many of you did not grow up Catholic, but you grew up Lutheran

Let’s take a look at the Lutheran belief regarding communion

Consubstantiation: Jesus is present in, with, and under the bread and wine

Lutheran theologians say it’s like how water is present in a sponge

The sponge is NOT water…but water is in, with, and under the sponge.

This is perhaps more palatable than transubstantiation, but I just don’t think it’s a necessary Biblical reading.

It’s like they wanted to get away from the Catholic view, but couldn’t quite bring themselves to go all the way.

The important truth is, there is nothing mystical about communion, and that’s OKAY.

Communion is not meant to be a mystical experience

It’s not an Old Testament ritual where priests are necessary

Read the Book of Acts…they took in a house church together during their regular meals.

Communion is not a special burst of God’s love or forgiveness or even presence into your life.

Communion is like a sign…a sign pointing you to something important.

Say you’re going on vacation to the beach, and you see a sign that says, “Beach, that way!”

The special thing is not the sign, it’s the beach!

Communion is a helpful practice that is a sign that points us to something important.

But the thing itself is not to be worshipped

Don’t worship the sign


Okay, let’s get to our third point about what communion really is

This is key

What Is Communion?

1. Communion is a look forward, not just backward

2. Communion is a call to remembrance, not a disbursement of grace

3. Communion is a beautiful picture of the forgiveness offered to you through Jesus’ death

The symbolism of communion is so rich

Jesus and the disciples are eating the Passover meal together…

…this great reminder that God sent a substitute lamb to die in place of his people.

And as they eat, Jesus begins to give new meaning to the Passover Meal:

He says that no longer will the bread represent what God’s people went through in the Exodus, but now it represents His body, given for you (which he’ll give for them the very next day on the cross)

And He gives his body, just like the lamb of Passover gave its life as a substitute for the Israelites all of those years ago.

And Jesus says that the wine represents his blood, that will be poured out FOR THEM.

Just as the lamb’s blood covered the doorframes, so death would pass over the Israelites that night…

Now Jesus’ blood can cover us from eternal death.

And Jesus, the new Passover Lamb, can deliver us from a greater bondage than even the Israelites faced…

He can deliver us from a bondage to sin…a bondage to eternal punishment.

And he does that through his death on the cross.

Not through communion itself.

Remember, communion is a SIGN that points us to the Savior…it is not the Savior.


And we need a Savior…because we are all sinners.

And for our sin, we deserve God’s justice and holy wrath.

The angel of death will surely come for us as it came for the all of Israel & Egypt that night of the Passover.

And yet, we can be saved.

By trusting in the sacrifice of the lamb, Jesus

When Jesus died on the cross, he was dying for your sins, taking the punishment you deserved.

And when you believe in Him, and you make Him your Savior, your leader…

It’s like painting the blood of Jesus over the doorway of your life.

And thus, the angel of death will PASS OVER you, and you will be raised to eternal life with Jesus in heaven.

Because of your faith.

It’s not because of your good deeds.

God didn’t say, “Quick, walk a bunch of old ladies across the street before the angel of death gets here, so you can be counted as worthy!”

No, only their faith in God could save them.

And that’s what communion points us back to every time.

We couldn’t save ourselves.

And yet, Jesus came for us.


His body was given for us on the cross

His blood poured out for us.

My friends, this is the deep truth of Christianity.

You will never be good enough on your own to be forgiven or saved…but Jesus Christ loves you anyway and died for you anyway.

And you can have a relationship with Him, you can know His love when you make a choice to believe in Him…that He died for you

And if you’ve never made that decision before, you can make it today

In fact, after we take communion and have a final song of worship…I want to give you an opportunity to do just that…

So begin to talk to God about this.

Are you really saved?

Have you cast your life upon Him and his death in your place?

Or are you just trying to save yourself with your good deeds and your good religious performance?

For the rest of us, I want us to celebrate this sacrifice of Christ by taking communion together today

The Bible does tell us in 1 Corinthians that communion is something you want to do only if you’re sure you absolutely believe it…that Jesus is indeed the Lord and leader of your life.

If you’re here and you’re still just seeking or learning about God…just wait with this part. That’s okay.

We’re glad you’re here! No worries.

But for those of you who are believers, we want to take communion together today.

Under the chair in front of you, or under your chair if you’re in the front row…you’ll find a small communion chalice

Go ahead and pick it up

Look to the bottom of the chalice and pull off the covering to take the bread out.

Then hold it in your hand for a moment.

And I want you to take a second…and reflect that that He is your Passover lamb


The body of Christ given for you…go ahead and eat of the bread

Now before you drink of the juice, I want you to take a moment, and thank Jesus that He let his blood be poured out for you

That you don’t have to earn his love, that He freely gave it, and you just had to receive it


The blood of Christ was shed for you…go ahead and peel back the covering and drink from the cup

If you would, place the wrappers back in the chalice and place it in the holder under the chair in front of you.

Let me pray.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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