As Christians we have the privilege of celebrating the Lord’s Supper (or Holy Communion, as it is known in some churches). The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament given to the church by Jesus himself as a sign of the gospel for the strengthening of our faith. As we take part in the Lord’s Supper…
…we look back
Jesus said in Luke 22:19, “Do this in remembrance of me”.
It is easy to forget the magnitude of Jesus’ work for us and the majesty of who he truly is. We attend church and bible study and go through the religious motions, but how often do we pause to reflect on the great work and person of Jesus Christ. We may intellectually acknowledge the historicity of the Galilean carpenter, but do we pause to consider our enormous guilt before a holy God and the deep love that should somehow cause God to be incarnate in God the Son, and then violently die and be forsaken for such like me. As we eat the bread and drink the wine we remember the person and passion of Jesus.
…we look out
1Corinthians 11:26 says, “whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
We proclaim Jesus’ death to the watching world around us. The Lord’s Supper is not a memorial meal, for Jesus is not dead. It is a symbolic meal when we remember the living Lord and that deliberate, dignified remembrance shows our dying world where our living hope is.
We also look out to the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:29 says we should recognise the body of the Lord, that is the church. We remember that we are members of the universal church made up of a countless multitude that cannot be counted. We remember that we are also part of a local church in which God has sovereignly placed us. We therefore need to make sure we are, as far as it up to us, living at peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ. How can we come before the Lord’s Table to thank God for his forgiveness and grace while harbouring bitterness and anger and resentment towards another member of the body? We look out to the body.
…we look in
1 Corinthians 11:28-29 says, “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognising the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.”
We must examine ourselves to make sure that we are not harbouring or living in sin. We come before the table remembering the blood that was shed and the body that was broken to forgive our sin. Oh, the high price of the blood-drenched cross that settled the ransom! Oh, the violent death of the Lamb of God that secured my release from sin’s prison! How can I then live in sin’s embrace? No, that can never be! Examine yourself, lest you be guilty of trampling the blood of Christ underfoot!
But don’t over-examine. The Bible says, “A man ought to examine himself before he eats”, that means that after examining he eats! We can never be sinless or blameless in our walk with God. After considering our sin and our intention to turn from it we should partake of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament of the gospel and the gospel is for sinners after all! As we eat and drink we must look in so that we do not eat and drink unworthily.
…we look forward
Jesus said in Luke 22:18, “I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:26, “whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
We, Christians, are waiting for Jesus to return to this earth in his Father’s glory accompanied by the holy angels. We are living in expectation. Every time we share in the Lord’s Supper we look forward to that day when the world as we know it will end; God will established the renewed universe; all enemies of God will be turned away; and we will reign with Jesus on the renewed earth. We look forward.
(Thank you to Dr. John Newby for these insights.)