Answers 17 – Who Can Serve The Lord’s Supper?
In this series called “Answers”, my goal is to help you, by sharing with you short, Biblical answers to questions that people have been asking me. Today’s question: “Who Can Serve The Lord’s Supper?”
To answer this question, we have to look at how the Lord’s Supper was first introduced, and also how the early church celebrated it.
1. The Institution Of The Lord’s Supper.
Luke 22:7-15, 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 upper room, 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. (15) And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.
This passage makes it very clear. When Jesus first introduced the Lord’s Supper, He was celebrating the Passover meal when He did it.
In verse 11, Jesus said that He was preparing to eat the Passover meal with His disciples, and verse 15 confirms, that they did indeed celebrate the Passover meal, when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper.
So the Lord’s supper was instituted out of the Passover meal.
1 Corinthians 5:7, NIV – (7) … For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
Just shortly after Jesus introduced the Lord’s Supper during the Passover meal, Jesus fulfilled the Passover by becoming the Passover Lamb for us, but He gave new meaning to the bread and the wine, that He wanted us to continue to receive, for the years and centuries to come.
1 Corinthians 11:24-26, NIV – (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, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (26) For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
So Jesus wanted us to continue to observe the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, using the bread and wine, until He comes again.
2. How The Passover Meal Was Served.
Now, let’s look at the Passover meal.
Exodus 12:3, NIV – (3) Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.
The Passover meal was a celebration to be observed in every household, every year, on the tenth day of the first month of the Jewish calendar. No priest was required to come to the house. Instead, the spiritual head of each household was told to serve the Passover meal to His family.
When Jesus served the Passover meal to His disciples, it was very appropriate for Him to do so, because He had become the spiritual head of His disciples.
Today, if we want to celebrate the Lord’s Supper in our home, it is very appropriate for the head of the household to serve the Lord’s supper. However, if we are the only Christian in our home, then we can serve the Lord’s Supper to ourself, or even invite a Christian friend to celebrate with us.
3. The Early Church’s Observance.
Now, what about the early church – how did they observe or celebrate the Lord’s Supper?
Acts 2:43-47, NIV – (42) They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (43) Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. (44) All the believers were together and had everything in common. (45) Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. (46) Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, (47) praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (46) Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.
This passage describes the habits of the early church, just days after the Day of Pentecost. And what does it say in verse 46? They broke bread in their homes AND ate together. The breaking of bread was part of the meal in the home, but it was not the same as the meal. The breaking of bread was another way of saying, that they celebrated the Lord’s supper.
We can see this in the Gospel of Luke.
Luke 22:19, 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.”
So the phrase “breaking of bread” became synonymous with celebrating the Lord’s Supper.
And as we can see, it was done in the homes. Obviously there was no priest present, because no Jewish priest would preside over the Lord’s Supper, and there was no need for a local church pastor to be present either.
So again, the Lord’s supper was celebrated in every Christian home, most likely by the spiritual head of the house.
4. The Lord’s Invitation To HIS Supper.
One last thing. We call it “The Lord’s Supper”. It is not the supper of a priest, or the supper of a local church, or the supper of a church denomination. It is the Lord’s Supper – He instituted it, and He invited us to celebrate it.
If the Lord Jesus Himself invited us to celebrate His Supper, then no one else has the right to stop us from eating it. It is the Lord’s Supper, it is the Lord’s Table, and it is the Lord’s invitation. So let’s freely celebrate the Lord’s Supper in our homes, and receive His grace by faith.