Matthew 26 contains one of the most well-known events in human history and certainly the most famous meal ever eaten, the Last Supper.
As the disciples sat together, Jesus said, “Take it and eat it, for this is my body” (verse 26). He then gave thanks and offered them the cup and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which seals the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out to forgive the sins of many” (verses 27–28).
Jesus, as He often did, was speaking symbolically. To say He was speaking literally here does not fit with the word pictures He often used. After all, Jesus said He was the Bread of Life. And didn’t He say that He was the Door?
So, do we insist that Christ is an actual loaf of bread or a door? Of course not. Nor should we insist that the bread and the contents of the cup are actually Christ’s body and blood. There is no evidence of a supernatural process that transforms the cup’s contents into Jesus’ blood and the bread into His flesh.
Therefore, as we participate in Communion, we don’t want to overly mystify what it represents. We don’t want to think of the bread as flesh and the cup as containing blood.
On the other hand, we don’t want to devalue Communion by thinking it means nothing. Clearly, the Scriptures warn us about taking part in Communion without recognizing its significance (see 1 Corinthians 11:23–30).
The bread and the cup are not holy elements in and of themselves. But they do represent something that is very holy. So it is with great respect and reverence that we come to the Communion table, recognizing it is a symbol of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross.