“And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”
On Thursday night I attended a church service and took part in communion. It’s so appropriate to do so at Easter time, when we remember anew the steps that Christ took and the path he trod to the cross. Christians across the world remember His suffering and death.
Communion demonstrates our commitment to Christ. By partaking of His body and blood we demonstrate that we want Him to enter our lives and reign in us, to fill us with His Holy Spirit and cast out our evil, sinful nature which has been part of humanity since the fall of Adam and Eve.
As the above Bible verses clearly show, it was Christ himself who instituted communion amongst his followers, at the time when the Jews were celebrating Passover. Jesus became the Passover Lamb of God, slain to glorify His Father, and to save sinful mankind from the punishment of death.
Communion is a sacred act. Our salvation was paid for at a very high price, from One who was without sin. Whilst Christians may differ on their opinions regarding transubstantiation, the elements of communion, the bread and wine are the only symbols which we use to denote Christ’s body and blood.
For this reason, I do not believe that Christians should enter into the practice of performing a Passover meal around Easter. We are partakers of a new covenant in Christ. What is that lump of roast lamb on your plate supposed to represent? Are we play acting? Being disrespectful to our Saviour?
“Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Corinthians 5:7-8
I do not believe that what Paul is saying in these verses is that we should still be celebrating Passover in the old way, particularly those of us without a Jewish cultural background. What is clear from the verse though, is that we should be celebrating the new covenant, with the love and joy which is at the very heart of the gospel message. We should not partake of communion with bitterness in our hearts towards others, nor should we partake of communion and go straight out into the church carpark and gossip about anyone, just to give a couple of examples. I know I've done this. Christ's body and blood deserve better.
As Christians, Easter Sunday is the most joyful day of the year, the day which we in fact celebrate every day that we know Jesus. The trappings of Easter – hot cross buns, eggs and rabbits (which originated in pagan fertility festivals) are a hollow sham without the real message of the cross. What we celebrate is the wonderful truth that Jesus died and rose again. “It is finished.” Jesus said on the cross. He completed all that His Father had ordained for Him to do. He glorified God. He ransomed fallen, sinful people, like me, like you. He made a way for us to come to Him, not through any work that we could do, but because of what He, Jesus had done for us.
Love conquered death.
Hope was given.
Broken people were redeemed.
Everlasting life was offered.
Jesus said: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20
How do I become a Christian?
The Bible tells us that there is only one way to relationship with God and that is through Jesus Christ:
“Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. (John 14:5-6)
To become a Christian, you need to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died on the cross to honour God and for the forgiveness of sin and that He rose again and ascended to His Father God.
You also need to admit or confess that you are a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness through Christ. This is known as repentance. Repentance involves confessing that we have done wrong, saying sorry to God and committing to living a life in obedience to God's ways. Becoming a Christian does not make you suddenly perfect. We all still struggle with temptations and failures in this earthly life and continually need God's grace and forgiveness. Repentance does mean that we look to God for wisdom and guidance to resist temptation.
You then need to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. Just as a wedding ceremony begins a marriage, so a prayer of confession and faith can begin, but is just the beginning, of a relationship with God. An ongoing relationship includes learning about God through Bible study; baptism, conversations with God through prayer, and encouragement through Christian fellowship in a caring church.
The following is a prayer which could be used to begin this relationship. You may wish to pray it alone, personally, or you may wish to discuss your decision with a Christian friend or pastor first to fully understand:
Dear Heavenly Father God,
I come before You acknowledging You as the only one God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thank You for revealing Yourself to me. Thank You, Father God, for sending Your only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross, honouring You and making a way for sinful people to come back into relationship with You. I acknowledge that I am a sinner. Please forgive my sin and cleanse me I pray. I receive Jesus Christ into my life to be my Lord and Saviour for the rest of my days. May You give me strength through the power of the Holy Spirit to live my life as a Christian. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour. Amen