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Consider some connection and similarities between baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Baptism involves the physical act of immersion in water and resurrection from the water (Acts 8:35-39; 10:47,48; Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12).
The spiritual meaning of this act is that we come into contact with Jesus’ death, so our sins are washed away or forgiven by His blood and we are raised to walk in a new life (Romans 6:3-11; Colossians 2:12; Acts 2:38,47; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Mark 16:16; Galatians 3:27).
The sins are not washed away by the physical water. Nor do we physically come in contact with the blood of Jesus. Nevertheless, the sins are spiritually washed away by the Jesus’ blood when we obey the gospel teaching to physically be baptized for the remission of sins. We must obey the physical act for the proper spiritual purpose in order to receive the benefit.
The physical acts involve eating unleavened bread and drinking fruit of the vine. But there are spiritual meanings to these acts. They are a memorial to Jesus’ body and blood, a communion with His body and blood, in which we proclaim and discern His death (1 Corinthians 11:23-29; 10:16,17; etc.).
Contrary to what some believe, we are not physically eating Jesus’ body or drinking His blood. Physically we are eating unleavened bread and drinking fruit of the vine. Nevertheless, when we participate, we are having spiritual communion with Jesus’ body and blood.
So, both baptism and the Lord’s Supper involve physical acts which have spiritual meaning.
The New Testament repeatedly teaches that we are forgiven of sins by the blood of Jesus Christ: that is, by His death on the cross.
Ephesians 1:7 – In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.
Acts 2:38 – Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins… But it is the blood of Jesus that forgives the sins.
Romans 6:3 – As many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death.
So, baptism involves the outer action of immersion in water and resurrection from the water, but it must be done for the purpose of receiving forgiveness by the blood of Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:16 – The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
So the Lord’s Supper involves the physical action of eating bread and drinking fruit of the vine, but it must be done for the purpose of memorializing and remembering the death of Jesus.
In order to receive the benefit, whether of baptism or the Lord’s Supper, it is not enough just to go through the outward motions. We must do the physical acts, but we must do them for the proper spiritual purpose in order to receive the proper spiritual benefit.
So let us remember the proper spiritual meaning of this feast as we participate.
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2020
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.