Why Do We Do What We Do In Worship? #12 - The Lord's Supper
Why Do We Do What We Do In Worship?
The Lord’s Supper
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and we he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me”. In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
1 Corinthians 11:23-29
The Lord’s Supper is one of two sacraments that we observe as a church, the other one being baptism. Whereas baptism is administered once as it portrays entrance into God’s visible people, the Lord’s Supper is administered often, portraying and providing ongoing strength for the Christian life, grace for the journey. As a sacrament, the Lord’s Supper is both a sign in that it points us to Jesus Christ and the benefits He offers us and a seal in that it authenticates God’s promises to us and gives us confidence that His promises can be trusted.
The Lord’s Supper is a visible picture of God’s mercy to us. The bread and wine represent the body and blood of Jesus Christ, who willingly offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins. The supper is a means by which we have fellowship both with the risen Christ and with His people.
Here, at the Lord’s Table, we do three things: we look back, we look ahead, and we look around. We look to the past and remember the atoning death of Jesus Christ on our behalf. We also look to the future in anticipation of His return in glory. And, finally, in the present, we enjoy union and communion with Him and with one another through the Holy Spirit.
The Lord’s Supper is not a re-sacrifice of Christ. Rather, it is a remembrance of His once and for all sacrificial death. But neither is the Lord’s Supper just a remembrance, a mere memorial meal. While it does remember the death of Christ, our communion is not with a dead Christ but with a living Savior, who has risen in victory over death. Jesus Christ is truly present in the elements of the bread and the cup. However, His presence is not physical but rather spiritual, as He is with His people through His Holy Spirit.
The Lord’s Supper is a means of grace, strengthening our faith in Jesus Christ. It is not an awards banquet or recognition ceremony for those without sin. Rather, it is a meal for repentant sinners, for at His table we find refreshment for our weak and weary souls as we feed upon Christ in our hearts by faith.
Because this is Lord’s Table, He is the one who does the inviting. Therefore, all those who are trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, who have been baptized and have made a public profession of faith, who are members of an evangelical church that believes, defends, and proclaims the biblical gospel, and who presently love Jesus Christ more than they love their sin are welcome to come to the table and partake of the Lord’s Supper.
Westminster Shorter Catechism # 96
Q: What is the Lord’s Supper?
A: The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ’s appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace.