The Lord Jesus commands us believers to eat and drink symbols of His sacrifice for our sins as a visual symbolic reminder of the truth that He suffered and died for us to unite us to His glorified body in heaven, so that we might receive all the benefits of His crucified body and shed blood (John 15:1-5). For the sake of His sacrifice, we are forgiven of all our sins and have eternal life, a life of communion (fellowship) with Christ (through the Word and prayer) in the bond of the Holy Spirit so that we are sanctified and transformed more and more into His image (John 17:3; 1 Cor. 6:17; 12:13; Eph. 5:30; 1 John 1:3).
The bread is not only broken, to symbolize that “He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5); the wine is not only poured into a cup, to symbolize that “He poured out His soul unto death” (Isaiah 53:12); the bread and wine are given to us to eat and drink to symbolize our communion with Christ – that He lives in us to nourish our souls every day and forever!
Every day through the Word and prayer we spiritually feed on Christ, trusting in His sacrifice alone for our salvation, and hungering and thirsting to please Him out of thankfulness for our salvation. The daily communion we enjoy in our private lives without the symbols is enjoyed together publicly with the symbols (1 Cor. 10:16-17). As certainly as we swallow the bread and wine and they nourish our body (think of the physical benefits of bread and wine), that is how close Jesus is by His Spirit to strengthen and gladden our soul. As we give Him thanks for His sacrifice we have communion with Him in a spiritual yet real way; and are spiritually nourished!
The Lord’s Supper is a privilege of membership in the Christian Church. Therefore, it is the Church’s responsibility to admit to the Lord’s Supper only those who have been baptized and publicly confessed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; and are members in good standing of a true and faithful church (Matt. 18:16-18; Heb. 13:17) – one which preaches the true gospel that sinners are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Gal. 1:8-9; 2:16).
It is also the Church’s responsibility to remind all professing believers of their personal responsibility to examine their hearts for the Lord’s Supper, lest they eat and drink judgment (1 Cor. 11:28-29). We must make sure that we are confessing our sins to God, trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation, and are obeying the Lord out of thankfulness for salvation. Then we may joyfully partake together.
The Lord’s Supper causes believers to think of the past, as they remember Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. There is a present benefit of meeting the risen Savior in person and giving Him thanks for His sacrifice. The Lord’s Supper also causes us to think of the future, when we will sit at the table of the Lord in heaven, at the marriage feast of the Lamb (Luke 22:18).