The prophecy of Jeremiah about the new covenant contains a double application: first, it refers to Israel’s return to God and His bringing them home; second, it refers to the work of Jesus the Messiah, whose death ratified the covenant and would change the relationship between humans and God.
It’s in the New Covenant that we get the fullest expression of the plan of salvation, which before had been revealed only in shadows and types (Heb. 10:1).
The broken body of Christ and His shed blood were revealed in the Old Testament in the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb. The juice of the vine represents the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, revealed in the New Testament. The work of Jesus did not begin with the New Testament; it embraced the Old as well, and in the communion service we can see the link that unites what Jesus has done all through salvation history.
The bread and the juice, then, provide the shortest summary of that salvation history. Though they are just symbols, it is still through these symbols that we understand God’s incredible work in our behalf.
The Communion service points not just to Christ’s death, but also to His return, without which His death would be all but meaningless. After all, what good would Christ’s first coming be without the second, when we are resurrected from the grave (1 Thess. 4:16, 1 Cor. 15:12-18)? Jesus established the link when He said,
But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom (Matt. 26:29). No question, Christ’s first coming is inseparably tied to His second. The first finds its ultimate fulfillment only in the second.
Next time you partake of the communion service, think about Christ’s vow not to drink of the fruit of the vine until He does so with us in the kingdom of God. How does that make you feel? What does that say about the closeness that Christ seeks with us?