The Breaking Of Bread
This is the first designation of the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament. It is used in Luke 24:35; Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7, 11; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17. The early Christians were continually celebrating the Lord’s Supper in the manner which their Lord did. As Christ took bread and broke it, so the Christians called this ordinance the breaking of bread, which reminded them of Christ’s body given for them. Notice that in Acts 20:7, the purpose of the church gathering on the Lord’s Day, is to break bread. They were gathered on the Christian Sabbath, as a church, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
Eucharist means thanksgiving and refers to the words of Christ in Luke 22:19 before breaking and distributing the bread to His disciples. The Greek verb for giving thanks is εὐχαριστήσας (Eucharistēsas). There is no doubt that thanksgiving should play a fundamental part as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, thinking of the work of Christ and receiving the benefits thereof anew in a spiritual and close communion with our Savior. But unfortunately, this name is closely associated with the abominable sacrifice of the Mass, therefore, it is not used by Protestants.
There are several things that are signified by the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is not a dead ritual, but a sign and a token, which signifies and grants grace to those who already believe (see Means of Grace below). Here are the things which the Lord’s Supper signifies.
The Lord’s Death
The most obvious thing that the Lord’s Supper signifies is the Lord’s sacrificial death on behalf of His people. His body was broken and His blood was shed for His people so as to redeemed them from sin. The Lord’s Supper reminds the Christian of the pivotal event of history when our Lord died on that cross to take away our sin and bear in Himself the punishment thereof. Therefore, whenever we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded of the work of Christ on behalf of His people in His vicarious death on the cross. As we are reminded of that work we are also receiving new graces and appreciation of that glorious work of redemption. This is especially true when the Lord’s Supper is preceded by a confession of sin. As we think of Christ’s atonement, we are reminded that all our sins have been washed away and we have been given the perfect righteousness of Christ instead of our filthy rags. In this ordinance, we have signified for us that Christ shed His blood and His body was broken for our sake, so as to forgive us of every sin. Both the ones we did before our regeneration and after our regeneration, even the ones which we confessed before participating in the Lord’s Supper.
Communion With Christ
In rejection of the Roman Catholic and Lutheran understanding of Christ’s presence in the Supper, the Reformed understand Christ’s presence to be spiritual. Roman Catholics are fond of expressing Christ’s presence in words like “real” and “literal.” In contrast, we affirm that there is a real spiritual presence of Christ. The bread and wine, remain as they are, and there’s not a single change in them. But these elements symbolize Christ’s body and blood. The presence of Christ is not in the bread and wine but in the faith of believers. Christ is especially present among His gathered people in the Lord’s Supper. He ministers to us graces anew and reminds us of His accomplished work on our behalf. In that way, we are communing deeply ...