The Lord's Supper: A Tangible Sign
Since the very earliest pages of scripture, the Lord has been giving his people visible and tangible signs of His faithfulness. Think about the clothing of animal skins that he provided to Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness (Genesis 3:21) – we are now able to look back and think of Christ, and the covering he has provided for our sinfulness. Or consider the Passover lamb – the simple shedding of the blood of this lamb was sufficient to cover the Hebrew people and spare them from the wrath that fell on the Egyptian families (Exodus 12:13). It’s as though the Lord knows that we are a people who are embodied – we are not “brains on a stick” as one teacher has said. We need to not just hear God’s word. We also need to get it into us through our other senses – we need to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
For the last several weeks, we’ve been in exile – the Church has been scattered. And though the Lord hasn’t left us, we ache for the day when we can once again “taste” the Gospel that we have been hearing preached over the TV in our living rooms as we worship from our homes.
The Lord’s Supper
The Lord's Supper is a key part of worship at Holy Cross and for many weeks now, we have been unable to celebrate this solemn, yet joyful meal together. One of the key passages of scripture that discusses the Lords Supper is found in I Corinthians 11. There’s a phrase that jumps out to the reader in this chapter because of how often it is repeated – “When you come together.” This phrase is repeated 5 times just in verses 17-34. The Lord’s Supper is a meal that is shared with God’s people each time we “come together.” Often times when we celebrate the Lords Supper we sit quietly, maybe even close our eyes, and contemplate the death of Jesus for our sins, and we commune with the Lord as we remember. This is a good thing for us to do. But this meal is also a communion with one another as we see in I Corinthians 11. For the last several weeks, we’ve been in exile – the Church has been scattered. And though the Lord hasn’t left us, we ache for the day when we can once again “taste” the Gospel that we have been hearing preached over the TV in our living rooms as we worship from our homes.
Think back to the feasts in the Old Testament – they are meant to do at least 3 things and I would suggest that things are no different for us in the New Testament Church. These feasts typically (1) directed God’s people to remember His faithfulness to them in the past; (2) pointed them forward to the ultimate fulfilment of his promises in the future; and (3) they served to sustain them and strengthen their faith in the present.
Remembering God's Faithfulness
We are really good at remembering the work of Jesus during the Lord’s supper – in fact this is probably the primary way that most Christians think of the supper. And this is a wonderful thing to contemplate. The words “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me” are the very words of scripture (I Corinthians 11:24) – we ought to be remembering the death of our Lord as a sacrifice for us. But the Lord’s supper is so much more.
Looking Forward To The Ultimate Fulfillment
If you’ve been around Holy Cross for very long, you’ve no doubt heard the phrase “Magnify God’s Glory, Live as God’s People, and Engage in God’s Mission.” When God calls a people to himself, he is adopting a family and now calls them to live together as one. Families sit around the table to share a meal. What an amazing thing it is then that the Lord has made this very homey, common practice a part of His worship. When we take the Lord’s supper we get to share this meal, not only with the Lord, but also with one another. And so, when we take this simple meal, we should also be looking forward to that great day when we won’t be given a small thimble of wine and a little square of flat bread – we’ll get to sit down together at the Lords table together for “a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined” (Isaiah 25:6). What a day that will be. As great as the Lords Supper is – and the Lord surely works in our hearts through it, we ought to leave the meal a little bit hungrier after we had it. This meal is meant to give us a taste of what is to come – we ought to leave the Lords table hungering for more (at least for now!).
Being Strengthened In Faith
Finally and most importantly, Communion is a way that the Lord strengthens us while we wait for that great day promised in Isaiah 25. The most important thing that happens in the Lord’s Supper isn’t something that we do (remembering, repenting, meditating). The most important element of the supper is what God is doing in us and for us. We are primarily a recipient of God’s good gifts when we take the supper. Looking back to I Corinthians 10, Paul tells us that the cup that we drink “is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” And so, when we take the Lord’s Supper, we are not merely looking back on the goodness of God, nor are we only looking forward to the ultimate fulfilment of God’s promises – God has promised to meet us now! He has promised us that as surely as we taste the bread and wine and it nourishes our body, so surely are you united to Jesus through his Holy Spirit who is there to strengthen our faith and to sustain us until that great day when all of His people are finally joined together at the same table.
As great as the Lords Supper is – and the Lord surely works in our hearts through it, we ought to leave the meal a little bit hungrier after we had it. This meal is meant to give us a taste of what is to come – we ought to leave the Lords table hungering for more (at least for now!).
What a great day it will be when we are able to participate in this meal together again. I would challenge us as we take the meal to think on these things. Think about the flow of our worship service. You began with a call to worship – the Lord himself invited you into His throne room. You then contemplated your own sin and all of the ways that you fall short of the glory of God. Immediately after this you hear that you are no longer under the condemnation of God because of the work of Jesus – and this is all before the sermon! Then we hear God’s word preached – we hear what God requires of us, we hear about how we have fallen short, and then we hear how Christ has met all of our needs through His life, death, and resurrection. God then, is so gracious that he shows us in a tangible, tactile way that he means what he said in the sermon and he invites you to sit around his table to share a meal. Something a family does. Then, once we’ve finished our meal, he sends us out with his blessing – assuring us that we belong to him. What an amazing and gracious God we have.
Join us for our next Communion Service
June 7, June 14, June 21
4:30 - 5:10pm