Can I partake of the the Lord’s Supper by myself or with my family?—This is a common, and important, question among Christians. We understand the importance of the Lord-instituted manner in which we remember His sacrificial and substitutionary death for us. But, the norm is that we participate in the Lord’s Supper when with the rest of the church, and now, being separated from one another, we, perhaps for the first time even, start asking why we do what we do regarding the Lord’s Supper and what the true necessary elements are.
The Scriptures clearly record the first Lord’s Supper for us. Matthew 26:26-29 and Mark 14:22-25 record the first Lord’s Supper in simple briefness. Luke 22:14-20 add a little more to the story although the Lord’s Supper parts are the same. These are all narrative accounts, and except for the theological points made and the “do this in remembrance of me” purpose, it is difficult to make any specific conclusion from those passages on how, when, and where to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
Sermon Suggestion: Luke 22:7-20 “Why we do not observe the Passover“
Then, the Apostle Paul, in 1Corinthians 11:20-34 answers some of our questions on how a church is actually to partake of the Lord’s Supper. It doesn’t mention the need for one cup or many little cups, it doesn’t instruct us on how frequently to partake of the Lord’s Supper, it doesn’t require that a deacon or elder should be handing it out; it does however give us some insight on what to do during a medical lockdown.
Sermon Suggestion: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 “Directives for the Lord’s Supper“
The instructions in 1 Corinthians 11:2-34 focus mostly on the specific preparations for the Lord’s Supper. About half the verses are about the personal spiritual preparation for the Lord’s Supper. But some of the preparation for the Lord’s Supper is about the church context for this special remembrance of our Lord Jesus’ death.
The first church-context lesson regarding the Lord’s Supper is that it is not an individual matter, but a communal matter. Each cannot do it their own way by themselves (1 Cor 11:20-21). No distinction can be made between the rich and the poor; being self-indulgent or destitute should not have any opportunity to show itself in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:21-22). As great as the diversity between individual believers often are in any church, the Lord’s Supper is demonstration of the great unity that we have.
The second church-context lesson regarding the Lord’s Supper is that it is not a “do at any cost” event, but a “wait till we’re all together” event. This is not a matter of doing it every week or only three or four times a year, but a matter of whenever you do it, then wait for everyone to be present. In the purpose statement of the Lord’s Supper, we are clued in to the fact that it must be fairly often (1 Cor 11:26). But the very clear instruction later in the text requires the in-person gathering of all who are coming (1 Cor 11:33-34).
Nowhere in the Scriptures are we commanded to partake of the Lord’s Supper every other week or month, even to the point of civil disobedience. It is not the frequency of the Lord’s Supper that is the primary emphasis of it in Scripture. Rather, the Lord wants us to take seriously the manner in which we participate in the Lord’s Supper. The spiritual preparation of each one’s heart (1 Cor 11:28), and the practical preparation of being united with one another is to be taken seriously (1 Cor 11:33).
Can I partake of the the Lord’s Supper by myself or with my family? To answer the question with a question, “Would that really be the Lord’s Supper?”. It would be a great remembrance of the Lord Jesus’ body and blood, but it would not really be the Lord’s Supper. Remembering the cross of Christ by yourself does not require the Lord’s Supper, but the Lord’s Supper does require the remembering of Christ with the rest of the church.