PARENT’S GUIDE TO THE LORD’S SUPPER
What is the Lord’s Supper?
One of the two sacraments given us by the Lord Jesus. A sacrament is a grace-imparting, physical ritual that points to and helps us engage with a spiritual reality. In celebrating the Lord’s Supper we remember the death of Jesus on our behalf for the forgiveness of our sins. It does so through physical means: a cracker and juice in the case of our church. The sacrament helps us take what we believe internally such that we can experience it outwardly.
When did Jesus give us this sacrament?
The Passover was the most sacred feast of the Jewish religious year. It commemorated the final plague on Egypt when the firstborn of the Egyptians died and the Israelites were spared because they were “covered” by the blood of the lamb (the blood was sprinkled on the doorposts of their house). The Lord commanded that throughout the generations the feast would be celebrated to help Israel remember their salvation-working God. The story is recorded in Exodus 12.
Jesus and his disciples celebrated Passover the night before he died on the cross. Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God. As He broke it and gave it to His disciples, He said, “’This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ 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’” (Luke 22:19-21).
The disciples, and then the church, began celebrating the Lord’s Supper from its earliest days. The ritual helps us to remember our Lord’s death and resurrection and to look for His glorious return in the future.
Who should partake of the Lord’s Supper? Do you need to be baptized?
The Lord’s Supper is for people who have faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, even if they have not been baptized yet.
The bread and wine are for those who have faith in Christ. People must make their own decision as to whether to partake. We do not believe it is appropriate to refuse to let people partake if they want to do so and believe they are genuine followers of Jesus.
Some people may actually become convicted and come to faith during our Sunday worship service. It would be right for them to partake.
What about my child? Should they partake with me?
Yes…if they have placed their faith in Jesus and understand what is being celebrated in the Lord’s Supper.
Before taking communion (another name for the Lord’s Supper), the main requirement for all children (as with adults) is that they have received the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Even though some children make this salvation decision at an early age, partaking of the Lord’s Supper should not be rushed into. They should understand what the sacrament means.
It is the parents duty to ensure the child understands what they are doing in the Lord’s Supper and why the sacrament is significant. As a child matures in their faith and it is evident that they are truly born again, the parents should be perceptive as to when they are ready to receive teaching on the Lord’s Supper.
What do I do?
Have a conversation with them about what it means to trust Jesus and discern their heart condition as best you can. If they understand that they are celebrating the death of Jesus on their behalf for their sin and can articulate a basic retelling of the what the elements of the Lord’s Supper represent (the bread/cracker represent the body of Jesus given for us, the juice represents the blood shed for the forgiveness of our sins), then it is okay for them to partake.
What do the cracker and juice represent?
The cracker represents the body of Jesus. The breaking of the bread was a symbolic portrayal of Jesus’ body being physically broken (not his bones but his flesh, which was torn open by the whips and thorns). The juice represents the blood of Jesus which was shed for the forgiveness of our sins.
It was his body and his blood which were the offering we needed to save our body and our blood being broken and shed as payment for our sin.
We take the Lord’s Supper as a Church. Why?
In the body of believers partaking together we function as priests for one another. When a priest would eat an offering according to Old Testament law, it was symbolizing God accepting the offering. When we eat and drink in each other’s presence we are saying, “God accepts you and on the basis of Jesus’ offering.”
What about that part in 1 Corinthians 11:29 that talks about eating and drinking condemnation on yourself?
That verse refers to those who are not believers taking part in the Lord’s Supper. It is therefore better to have your child wait if you are at all unsure as to their salvation condition than to risk the judgment spoken of in that passage.
It is most important that our children understand spiritual truths, and only wise Christian parents can discern when that time comes. So when your child sees the church taking part in the Lord’s Supper at the end of Sunday service and asks you a question about what we are doing, pounce on the opportunity to teach your child biblical truth!
Does that mean they are condemned forever if they partake?
No! The case in 1 Corinthians concerns the person who takes part in the Lord’s Supper with conscious knowledge that they don’t believe in Jesus. It is the kind of person who says, “I know what the Bible and God say, but I don’t care, I’m going to do what I want to do anyway.”
So if you and your child genuinely believe salvation has come, then go ahead and join in with joy. That’s the point. If it turns out that salvation really “takes root” or “happens” at some later point, that’s okay. We just want to make sure the Lord’s Supper is entered into with proper reverence and care.