9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.
In the same scene where the people of God agreed to be his people, to join in covenant relationship with him, the leaders of the people were given an unimaginable privilege. After Moses gave the 10 commandments, and after God explained further the terms of the covenant with the Israelites, Two major events took place—two events that bear a striking resemblance to a New Testament reality.
At the beginning of Exodus 24, Moses purified the people and the book of the covenant with blood. Then, after that ceremony, the leadership of Israel ascended the mountain of God. There they beheld the glory of God, and by God’s grace they did not die. Instead of being punished for looking upon the holy with their unholy eyes, God allowed them to eat a meal in his presence. Such meals were common in the ratification of covenant relationships (cf. Gen 26:26-31; 31:44-46)
Can you imagine participating in a meal, eaten in the presence of the Lord, in which you affirm together your good intensions to be in covenant relationship together? If you are a Christian, such a meal ought not be so difficult to imagine. Every time you share in communion, you are doing that very thing.
26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
When Jesus and his disciples shared in the original Lord’s Supper, his disciples were in the presence of God the Son. At that meal, they ate and drank in consecration of the New Covenant that would be sealed by the blood of the Lord Jesus.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (ESV)
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 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.”25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
As often as we now participate in the Lord’s Supper, we participate in the very covenant meal that Jesus shared with his disciples. We, in the presence of God, reaffirm our desire to be connected to God in covenant love that was made available through the shed blood of his Son. We look back at what Jesus did and look forward to the final consummation of the kingdom of God.
Too often, communion Sundays are not special enough to us. We get so caught up in the busyness of Sunday morning activities, and we tack the ceremony of communion onto the end of a service as empty ritual. But we need not think of this activity as empty. Christ himself has invited his followers to eat and drink in his presence as they remember and reaffirm their covenant relationship with him. This is an opportunity for genuine fellowship with our Lord, and need not be just one more thing we do.
How might this thought change how you view communion? Will you be able to see your time in the pew as dining with the Divine? Will it not make you treasure Lord’s Supper Sunday’s? Will it not make you want to take advantage of this beautiful event more than once a quarter or once every couple of months? Christians, let us learn to see the magnificent opportunity that we have been given in the communion celebration.