Should we allow our children to partake of the Lordís Supper as a teaching tool just like the Jews used the Passover as a teaching tool for their children?

 

The Word of God tells us to teach our children in the way of the Lord (Eph. 6:4; Prov. 22:6). We encourage them to pray, give, sing, and to listen to what is being taught by the preacher. Therefore, someone might ask, ďWhy do we exclude our children from partaking of the Lordís Supper?Ē They might add, ďUnder the Old Testament, the children of the Jews ate the Passover meal and used it to teach them about what God did for them in Egypt, so shouldnít we let our children partake of the Lordís Supper to teach them about what Jesus did for us?Ē

 

It is true, under the Law of Moses the Passover was used to teach the children about what God had done.

 

Exodus 12:3 "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: 'On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.4 'And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man's need you shall make your count for the lamb.5 'Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.6 'Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.7 'And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.8 'Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.9 'Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire -- its head with its legs and its entrails.10 'You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire.11 'And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD's Passover.

 

A lamb was eaten by those in the household.

 

Exodus 12:24 "And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever.25 "It will come to pass when you come to the land which the LORD will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service.26 "And it shall be, when your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?'27 "that you shall say, 'It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.' " So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.

 

Once a year when the Passover was prepared, it would cause most children to ask, ďwhy are we doing this?Ē It became a great opportunity for the Jews to teach their children about God and what He did for their people.

 

We need to understand that the Passover was a commandment the Jews were to follow. The lamb had to be chosen and prepared the right way, and the household was supposed to eat it, but only those that were circumcised could observe it (Ex. 12:48). Under the Law of Moses, a Jewish child was born a child of God and he was circumcised on the 8th day, and he was taught about the ways of God as he grew older, but this would all change under the new covenant that Jesus established.

 

Jeremiah prophesied about this change in:

 

Jeremiah 31:31 " Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah --32 "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.34 "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

 

Under the new covenant, a person is not born a child of God and then taught about the ways of God. Instead, a person grows up learning about God and then they choose to become a child of God by obeying the Word of God. This truth teaches us that there is a big difference between how a person became a child of God under the Law of Moses and how a person becomes a child of God under the Law of Christ.

 

While the Old Testament is a valuable tool for the Christian today and its examples can teach us a lot, we must never forget that the Old Testament laws do not apply to us today because they were nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14). Even though the children of the Jews partook of the Passover lamb, which they were commanded to do, we cannot take that commandment and apply it to the Lordís Supper because it does not apply to us today.

 

In order to answer our question about our children partaking the Lordís Supper, we must use the examples and commands given to us under the new covenant. While some similarities can be made between the Passover and the Lordís Supper, they each have their own unique purpose and commands. The Lordís Supper is to be observed on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), and we are to partake of the fruit of the vine and unleavened bread (Lk. 22:14-20). The Lordís Supper should only be eaten by Christians because when we do, we are in communion with 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?17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.

 

You cannot find an example in the New Testament where a child or a nonChristian partook of the Lordís Supper. Unlike the Passover, which was eaten by the household, the Lordís Supper is taken when the Christians are gathered together to form the body of Christ. Since the Lordís Supper is for Christians it excludes our children from partaking of it. The reason I say this is because under the new covenant we must choose to become a Christian, which means we must know what we are doing.

 

This same idea is true when it comes to partaking of the Lordís Supper. We learn three things about the purpose of the Lordís Supper from the following verses:

 

1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

 

First, we are supposed to partake of it in remembrance of Jesus. Just as the Passover was a reminder to the Jews of how death passed over them, which led to their freedom of slavery, the Lordís Supper reminds us of how Jesus made eternal salvation possible for us by becoming the perfect sacrifice on the cross so we could have freedom from the bondage of sin.

 

Second, when we partake of the Lordís Supper, we proclaim His death until He comes again (vs. 26). Even when our children do not partake of the Lordís Supper, when they see us partaken of it every week, they will eventually ask us why we do it, and we can uses that opportunity to teach them about what it represents without them partaken of it. Remember, they are not commanded to partake of it like the Jewish children were commanded to partake of the Passover.

 

Third, we learn that partaking of the Lordís Supper is a time of reflection (vs. 28). We need to examine how we are living our lives in accordance to Godís will. When we stop and think about the significance of the Lordís Supper, it becomes a reminder for us each week to live pure and holy lives before God. It is important that we know what we are doing as we partake of Lordís Supper so we do not partake of it in an unworthy manner as the Corinthians did (1 Cor. 11:17-22). Paul states that we will be guilty of Jesusí blood and His body if we partake of it in an unworthy manner (vs. 29).

 

While our children can go through motions of eating the bread and drinking the fruit of the vine, they cannot fully understand what they are doing. Therefore, they cannot partake of the Lordís Supper in a worth manner. If they are old enough to understand the significance of the Lordís Supper and everything that goes with it, then they are old enough to become a Christian.

 

In conclusion, while we can learn much from the Old Testament, we cannot use it to justify what we do under the New Testament. The Jews under the Old Testament were commanded to observe the Passover with their household, but Christians are commanded to partake of the Lordís Supper together when they worship God on the first day of the week. While we should encourage our children to pray, give, sing, and listen to the preacher, we must not allow them partake of the Lordís Supper until they become Christians because they need to know what they are doing so they can partake of it in a worthy manner.