Healing Through Receiving Communion
This past Sunday our church celebrated Communion. As we shared around ‘The Lord’s Table’ scripture from 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 was referred to. Symbols of the Blood and Body of Christ were distributed, people were encouraged to receive the benefits of Christ’s substitutionary death, and afterwards we prayed for anyone in need. The Church has many perspectives on what Communion is, but we all agree that it should bring us closer to the Lord.
The Lord’s Table is the celebration of the Lord’s death on our behalf. It is an acknowledgement of the new covenant that we have in Him. Consequently, if it relates to the new covenant, and since the new covenant is a covenant of healing, then we ought to expect healing to flow from taking Communion.
First, we must understand that there are two aspects to Communion and each has relevance. There is the wine, which represents Christ’s Blood, and there is the bread, which represents His Body. Unfortunately, these two are often relegated, in people’s minds, as one entity, with one purpose, and one promise. However, that is not the case.
The Wine and the Blood. In scripture, the shedding of blood always relates to forgiveness of sins.
“And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” - Hebrews 9:22
“but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” - 1 John 1:7-9
Receiving forgiveness from the Lord, as encouraged through participation in Communion and drinking the wine, will bring healing to the body:
- By receiving forgiveness of sins by faith in His Blood, as symbolized by drinking the wine, we will receive healing from sicknesses brought on by sin. Please note that I am not saying that all sickness is the result of personal sin.
- By forgiving others (Mark 11:25), which is necessary to receive forgiveness, we will receive healing through release from the harmful effects of bitterness. An interesting book I read, entitled, “The Forgiveness Project” (Michael S. Barry; Kregel Publications) informs of studies in a cancer clinic which found that many cancer patients either experienced healing or their cancer went into remission, by being led to forgive those who had offended them. A good read!
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions.” - Mk.11:25
The Bread and the Body. But what does the broken body of Christ signify? In the Corinthian passage, the only unique reference to the Body of Christ (i.e., apart from the Blood) is the statement found in v. 29 (in particular, the portion underlined):
“For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep...” - 1 Cor.11:29-30
From this it may be understood that if we don’t discern the Body rightly, we may end up sick, but then the converse is that if we do discern it correctly then we should be healed and/or healthy!
There is reference to healing through Christ’s Body. The promise of Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24, relates to the whipping of Christ, and not the entire death experience of the Cross. With it comes a promise of healing of the body.
“. . . and by His scourging we are healed.” - Isaiah 53:5
“and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” - 1 Peter 2:24
The new covenant deals with both sin and sickness. Communion portrays the new covenant by the drinking of the wine – forgiveness from sins – and eating the bread – healing and health.
Communion and Healing, as Seen in Typology. Our understanding of Communion is based on the Passover meal celebrated by Jesus and His twelve disciples (Luke 22:14-20). Before Israel set out on her forty-year wilderness journey, she participated in the first Passover. The Passover is a type of salvation and Communion.
When the Israelites celebrated the Passover, there was the shedding of Blood, which provided protection from the Angel of death, a type of our forgiveness from sin and protection from the second death. Also, there was the eating of the flesh of the Passover lamb. The flesh of the lamb in the Passover meal in the Old Covenant is a type of the Body of Christ in the New Testament (cf., John 6). After eating the flesh of the Passover lamb, not one of the three million or so Israelites who left Egypt was feeble or sick (Psalm 105:37). Imagine, three million people healed in one night! And they continued their journey in divine health! Some of those Israelites were elderly. Some had suffered from the effects of their slavery – poor nutrition; over worked; perhaps beaten and maimed by the Egyptians. But all were strong when they left Egypt!
“He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.” - Ps. 105:37 KJV (although many translations refer to ‘stumbling’ rather than ‘feeble’ as in the KJV, the Hebrew word is referring to ‘weakness’).
Why is it that so many Israelites were strong and healthy, under an inferior Old Testament covenant, while so many in the Church are sick, with our superior covenant? Are we missing the point, the purpose, and the promises of Communion? By partaking in faith, we should receive both healing and health. This is God’s promise!!
As well, on that first Passover, the lamb’s blood on the doors of the Israelites protected from death, as the destroying angel passed over those homes. The counterpart in Communion, or rather contrast that is taught, is that if a person does not participate in a worthy manner, the consequences may mean sickness, weakness, and death. We may therefore trust, that as we take Communion in a proper manner, by faith confessing and forsaking our sins, and by faith acknowledging that Christ’s body was truly whipped for our healing, we should have a reciprocal experience of health, strength, and long life!
How may Communion be instrumental in my healing? Obviously, Communion should not be taken as a magical formula for receiving healing. Yet, as has been said already, it must be done in faith. Some recommend that the sick take Communion once per day for healing. Others say take it perhaps three times per day, even as they might need to take medicine (although we shouldn’t use natural medicine as our guide for this spiritual sacrament). Communion does not need to be taken only at church, nor does one have to use special wine, juice, or bread. Communion is, and always will be, fellowship with Christ and His finished work on the Cross! The key is, as it says in 1 Corinthians 11:25, “do this.”