*Image from crosswalk.com
The act of taking communion is one of the most sacred acts that a believer in Jesus can do. We are told to do it often, even as often as every time we gather together with other believers. Jesus celebrated it with His disciples the night before He carried out the very act it represents. But this was not the first the symbolism of communion was given in the Bible. There are several we can point to but I’d like to focus in on one passage out of the book of Genesis. To understand the context of this passage lets rewind a bit. Abraham had just rescued Lot and many others from enemies in the region. The mysterious figure of Melchizedek, King of Salem, came out to meet Abraham to celebrate the victory. Here’s the passage:
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
He gave him a tenth of all. The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.” Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have sworn to the Lord God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’
Genesis 14:18-23 NASB
#1-Bread and Wine: While this was a common feature in most ancient meals, it’s symbolic importance can it be ignored. They became integral parts of the Passover meal, which was a foreshadowing in itself of the very thing that the communion represents, the death of Jesus our Messiah. Jesus himself used these two elements to represent His sacrifice during the last supper.
#2-High Priest: Melchizedek is named as the priest and king of Salem. This is the city that would later become Jerusalem. Only one other figure in all of the Bible is mentioned as being both priest and king…Jesus. In Israel, those two positions were kept separate. But in Jesus, they came together as one as Jesus became both our High Priest and the King of kings. The duty of the priest was to mediate or make peace, between God and man. Communion represents the ultimate act that brought that peace for us. Instead of daily and yearly sacrifices, Jesus made one final sacrifice for all time.
#3-God’s deliverance: In this passage, God delivered Abraham, Lot, and the people from their captors. God did the same thing on a bigger scale in the rescue from slavery in Egypt remembered in the Passover meal. God did it again in an even bigger way through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Because of Him, we have been delivered from the bondage of sin and death.
More than those connections to the symbolism in communion, Abraham’s response in the passage can instruct us on our response to God’s grace in our own lives. Abraham’s heart was full of gratitude, not greedy for gain. He must have realized that God’s victory had been won and there remained nothing more precious for him to possess. Here is what Matthew Henry’s commentary says on the matter:
Observe the king of Sodom’s grateful offer to Abram, Give me the souls, and take thou the substance. Gratitude teaches us to recompense to the utmost of our power, those that have undergone fatigues, run hazards, and been at expense for our service and benefit. Abram generously refused this offer. He accompanies his refusal with a good reason, Lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: which would reflect upon the promise promise and covenant of God, as if He would not have enriched Abraham without the spoils of Sodom. The people of God must, for their credit’s sake, take heed of doing any thing that looks mean or mercenary, or that savors of covetousness and self-seeking. Abraham can trust the Possessor of Heaven and earth to provide for him.
Communion is a celebration of that ultimate and fully sufficient provision from the Possessor of Heaven and earth. Praise God for His amazing love!
Peace in Christ brothers and sisters