Useful Bible Studies > Hebrews Commentary > chapter 9

The purpose of the communion

Hebrews 9:20

The words in Hebrews 9:20 come from Exodus 24:8. Moses spoke them at a special ceremony when the people in Israel joined in Godís covenant. The covenant was the agreement that established their relationship with God. By these words, Moses declared that the people now belonged to God. The blood of the sacrifices (animals) had made the people holy. Moses splashed that blood onto them all to show that each person had received a relationship with God.

These words should remind Christians of another ceremony that had a similar purpose. It was the occasion when Jesus shared bread and wine with his disciples (special students), immediately before his death. On that occasion too, Jesus wanted to show that each person was joining in a covenant with God. Jesus wanted to show that God was establishing that covenant by means of his death. And he also wanted to show that each person must accept him (Jesus) into their own life.

So Jesus took the wine at the meal with his disciples. He explained that the wine meant his blood. He would give his blood (in other words, his life) when he died for them. So he asked each disciple to drink a little wine. By that act, each disciple would show that his relationship with God depended on the blood. In other words, their relationship with God was because of Jesusí death.

On that occasion, Jesus spoke words that were similar to Mosesí words (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25). He declared that his blood (his death) was establishing a new covenant between God and his people. Their relationship with God depends on what Jesus did.

Christians continue to share bread and wine together to remember Jesusí death (1 Corinthians 11:23-28). It is their most important ceremony, often called communion. But it is the meaning of the ceremony, and not the ceremony itself, that is so important.

The meaning of the ceremony called communion is that each person must invite Jesus into their own life. Each person must have their own relationship with God because of the death of Jesus.

A person may accept communion without any change whatever in their life. A person may take the bread and wine, but refuse to have a relationship with God. But Jesusí death has a wonderful effect in the life of every person who accepts him. Jesus changes people completely (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Next part: The use of blood in the Bible (Hebrews 9:21)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.