The Lord’s Supper: what, why, to whom?

June 4, 2015 admin

Bread-and-Cup1-300x229For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26).

Consider this imaginary scenario: you are interviewed by a reporter as you leave this Sunday’s Lord’s Supper meeting, and asked “what is the reason(s) you’ve attended?”

How would you answer?

Might you have more than one reason, purpose, cause, motive?

Assuming you have multiple reasons, there is one that should always be at or near the top of your list: whenever we gather – in groups large or small – with the bread and wine on the Lord’s table before us, we do so to “proclaim the Lord’s death”.

That’s the what.

A non-verbal proclamation of the cross of Christ as central to the Gospel.

Many years ago, I had a friend who objected to the Lord’s Supper – at least the way we conducted it – because we spent too much time focusing on the death of Christ. He thought that too unnecessarily pessimistic, too macabre, too sadistic.

And yet, that’s what Paul tells us we are declaring, showing forth, announcing.

Why?

Paul answers the why of the Lord’s Supper in the immediately preceding verses, and gives us 3 reasons:

  • remembrance – of His body symbolized in the bread. He said, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (v.24) and he repeated this reason for the cup in the next verse.
  • the new covenant – “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (v.25). The wine is symbolic of the pledge made to me by the sovereign, eternal God of the universe.
  • promised return – “until He comes”. The Swiss theologian Godet (1812-1900) says of the Lord’s Supper, that it is “the link between His two comings, the monument of the one, the pledge of the other.”

But have you ever considered, to whom are we making the declaration?

Clearly, we are proclaiming to each other in attendance, the essential Person and work of the Lord Jesus in obtaining our redemption through His cross.

Our announcement of the Gospel – even the non-verbal, but central climax when each eager participant consumes the symbols of His body and blood – is a statement to the unseen spirit world. We know angels are looking in (1 Corinthians 11:10); it is likely that those representing “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12) are also witnessing the assertion of the people of Christ, to the centrality of the cross of Christ. They hate it because they hate the truth.

And ultimately, we are “showing forth the Lord’s death” to the Triune God.

When we meet as a faith community to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we often remind ourselves that we pray together to the Father; we invite the Holy Spirit to be our worship Leader; but our focus is on the Son – who He is, what He has achieved, and our longing for His promised return.

Takeaway: at Bethel, our history is Brethren; and in that tradition in its earliest days, the Lord’s Supper was the highlight of the meeting, the center-piece of gathering, the principal reason for coming together. I often ask myself this question: if the local body of believers to whom I have attached myself are meeting for the purpose of obediently celebrating the Lord’s Supper, what could I possibly be doing that would be more important than being present? And if I find the hour anything less than enjoyable, beneficial and satisfying what does that say about my spiritual health, my relationship with the One who has granted me abundant, eternal life? May our Remembrance Service – whether weekly or less frequently, and however conducted – bring delight to the heart of the Saviour as He observes and receives the worship of His people.

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