Jesus gave specific instructions to His disciples on the Lord’s supper on the night before He died. While this ordinance is specifically for those who have professed faith in Christ, I believe as Christian parents that we have a duty to teach our children the whys and hows of all aspects of obeying Christ. By teaching our children about the Lord’s supper, we are sharing the gospel message but more importantly, we are being obedient to “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)
Our hope is that if they are believers, we are preparing them to worship in fellowship with other believers in understanding of what we practice. If they aren’t believers, we are giving them an example of things to come because some day, they will too be observing the Lord’s Supper as followers of Christ.
Scriptures on the Lord’s Supper
You can find Jesus’ instructions on the Lord’s Supper in all four gospels (Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-20, and John 6:53-59) as well as Paul’s instruction to the church in 1 Corinthians 10-11.
I would also like to mention that Jesus and his disciples were at a Passover meal when He gave this this instruction. We cannot separate the Old Testament symbolism in the Lord’s Supper and Jesus’ death as the perfect sacrifice from our teaching. So, reading Exodus 12 is also a very important background for children to understand.
For the purpose of this instruction, we are going to focus on Luke 22 and 1 Corinthians 11. I like Luke’s detailed account of Jesus’ instruction to the disciples and the way Paul instructs the church.
Teaching Children About the Lord’s Supper
This is not an extensive lesson, if you are looking for that, refer the resources at the bottom, rather, this is a foundation on the importance of teaching kids about the Lord’s Supper. And, I believe it is also important for them to be in worship when its taken. If they are believers, they can participate, and if not, they can observe and learn.
Why we Take the Lord’s Supper
And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”Luke 22:14-20 NIV
The scriptures gives us two main reasons that we take the Lord’s Supper. These are important to explain to your children so that they understand that we are not just doing a manmade ritual, but we are obeying the commands of Christ.
- Jesus told us to do it in REMEMBRANCE of Him. (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:23)
- To PROCLAIM the Lord’s death until He returns. (1 Corinthians 11:26)
In Remembrance of Me
The church I grew up in had a communion table up front right below the pulpit that read, “Do this in remembrance of me”. I have seen it in many old churches since then. These words hold such special meaning that we must teach our children.
Jesus calls us to remember. What do we remember?
Well, we remember the lostness, darkness, and separation before Christ. In Ephesians 2:12 NIV, Paul says, “ Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.”
Immediately following in verse 13, he says’ “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Praise Jesus! We remember that by the blood of Christ, we are brought near, reconciled to God.
Proclaim the Lord’s Death
Proclamation is defined by Oxford Dictionary as, “a public or official announcement, especially one dealing with a matter of great importance.” We as a church, when taking the Lord’s supper, officially announces that our Savior died for our sins, rose from the dead, and is coming back. This is a a matter of the GREATEST importance.
We can explain to our children that we are letting God know that we remember, believe, and are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. (Romans 1:16)
How we Take the Lord’s Supper
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.1 Corinthians 11:23-28 NIV
The Lord’s Supper is to be taken in reverence and respect. It is a celebration of what Christ has done but it’s also a memorial to His brutal death on our behalf. I believe Paul gives us two how’s on taking the Lord’s Supper.
- In a WORTHY manner
- With EXAMINATION of our hearts
Is Anyone Worthy?
Paul explains that we are not to take the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner or we will be sinning. So, how do we be sure we are taking in a worthy manner?
We can never really make ourselves “worthy” of what Jesus did for us on the cross. He did it because of His great love, not because of our great, worthy nature. However, when we confidently take the elements knowing that we have been saved only by grace through faith, we are humbly casting ourselves at Jesus’ feet and publicly admitting our great dependance on Him.
This is why non believers are not welcome to take the Lord’s Supper. It is not to exclude or make anyone feel less than. It is to protect the sanctity of the ordinance in keeping with the Biblical guidelines. It is also for their protection as Paul pronounces later in 1 Corinthians 11 that those who take in an unworthy manner are eating and drinking judgement upon themselves. (v.29-30)
Examining Our Hearts
Examine is a verb that means to “inspect (someone or something) in detail to determine their nature or condition; investigate thoroughly.” As we prepare to take the Lord’s supper, Paul instructs us to look into the condition of our hearts. Do we have unconfessed sin? Are we taking Jesus’ sacrifice for granted?
Many churches give a time of prayer and reflection before the Lord’s Supper for believers to have this time of confession and preparation. But, even if they do not, we should take time before entering God’s house to clean hearts.
This is an important conversation to have with our children as we teach them the value of daily repentance and of examining our hearts through the scriptures.
Resources to Help Teach the Lord’s Supper
Last Supper Lesson and Activities from Ministry to Children
Lord’s Supper Crafts from Crafting the Word of God