Jude called it a love feast (Jude 12), Peter used similar terminology (2 Peter 2:13), Luke called it the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42), Paul called it the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:20) and said,
“Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast…” (1 Cor 5:7-8)
It was during the Hebrew celebration called the Feast of the Passover that Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19) While growing up, He traveled with His family to Jerusalem every year according to the custom of the Feast (Luke 2:41-47), which is when, at the age of twelve, He got left behind and they came back and found Him debating the teachers in the temple.
If you’re not familiar with the origins of the Feast of the Passover, just read Exodus 11-12 real quick. Passover was a yearly celebration in remembrance of God delivering the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. It included a full meal with lamb, unleavened bread, the fruit of the vine, etc.
On the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), the day Jesus rose from the dead, we celebrate our deliverance from slavery to sin, our death and resurrection with Christ (Rom 6:1-11), and the love of Jesus which we are to imitate. It’s not a funeral (the impression you get in some places) for Jesus isn’t dead. He rose from the dead, guaranteeing our resurrection! Therefore let us celebrate the feast!
The first Scriptures mentioned above indicate that the first Christians enjoyed a full meal together. It was an informal assembly of Christians in someone’s home, and each one would share a psalm, a teaching, or an exhortation.
After a couple decades of this practice by the growing, spreading Christian movement, the apostle Paul wrote to the church he had planted in Corinth, admonishing them for immature and fleshly behavior. Divisiveness and factions were evident during the time they should have come together for the love feast. He rebuked them saying, “When you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating, each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk.” Paul instructed them to wait for one another and to eat at home if they were too hungry to wait. (See 1 Cor 11:17-34)
Each congregation has lots of freedom in determining the way they want to do things. The situation at Corinth lets us know that it’s best to celebrate the memorial feast together if your group can behave themselves.
A full meal doesn’t seem realistic when considered from the later developed, widely practiced, formal ceremony perspective. With three thousand converted after the first preaching of the gospel (Acts 2:42-47), how did they all break bread in someone’s home? They didn’t. They were “breaking bread from house to house.”
“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matt 18:20)
Don’t be deceived by people on power trips who condemn anyone who doesn’t meet under their roof. First century Christians met from house to house, even in the same city. The home environment is ideal for a joyful family gathering where authentic relationships can be developed and meaningful conversations can take place over a meal.
Organized religion has really given Christianity a bad image. Over a thousand years of rigid ceremonies and superstitious rules has convinced many people that they already know about Christianity and they don’t want anything to do with it.
Many modern sects have reacted by creating a competing entertainment-driven version that is delivered to the masses with a slick marketing package, just like a franchised box store. In either case, it’s basically just a show put on by the clergy for the laity.
After experiencing the superficialness of big religion, I have learned to be content following the New Testament pattern. It’s alright, and really more authentic, if it’s just a few families assembling together. They hold each other accountable and truly become ministers of God.
They get to dig into the meat of the word together, rather than huddling with the malnourished masses who are served up watered down milk every week. They can work together to plant additional congregations in their community, surrounding region, and send preachers all over the world, just like the first century church did.