Scriptures

A Closer Look At The Lord’s Supper

Introduction

Before we begin there are a couple things I would like for us to consider concerning the Lord’s Supper.

‘While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you.’ Matthew 26:26-27

Firstly, the prayer for the bread and the wine, too often I hear people asking God to bless the bread and the wine but this isn’t what Jesus did, He simply thanked God for them, He blessed God not the bread and the wine because He knew that God was the One who supplied the bread and the wine and supplied everything for them to have it, i.e., the rain and sun which caused them to grow so that they could make bread and wine.

‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’ Matthew 26:28

Secondly, we must remember that we don’t come to the Lord’s table looking for forgiveness, I’ve lost count of the number of times I hear someone asking God to forgive us our, as if we only have our sins forgiven once a week. Our sins have already been forgiven at our baptism Acts 2:38 and when we confess our sins to Him, 1 John 1:9.

Acts 2:38 ‘Peter replied,

‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’

‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ 1 John 1:9

Is it a time of celebration or mourning?

Well, possibly both, it saddens us when we remember what we did to cause Jesus to have to go to the cross but it’s also a time of celebration because Jesus has conquered death and dealt with our sins and promises to come back again, whilst we remember what He did for us.

Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper in order for us to remember the great sacrifice He made for us and that we rely on Him and His sacrifice for our salvation. He gave us this memorial so we would not forget Him and what He did for us. In Luke 22:19, when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He said,

‘Do this in remembrance of Me.’

This is done to help us remember the Lord and what He did for us.

The death of our Lord wasn’t an accident. It was in God’s eternal plan of redemption for Christ to come to this earth and take our punishment for our sins by dying for us so God can now be just in saving us. In a number of places in the Old Testament, God foretells the death of His Son for us. One place is found in Isaiah 53:5-6,

‘But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.’

God and Christ are loving and wonderful for what they have done for us. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 we read of Jesus instituting the Lord’s Supper,

‘The Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, take eat; this is My body which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of Me. In the same manner, He also took the cup after supper, saying, this cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.’

This is how we remember the great suffering which our Lord did for us. We proclaim our faith in this great and wonderful deed to the world each time we partake of the Lord’s Supper. There are those who partake of only the bread and their priest partakes of the fruit of the vine, this is a perversion of the Lord’s Supper. This isn’t doing it the way the Bible instructs.

But notice each Christian is to partake of both the bread and the fruit of the vine. When we partake of the unleavened bread we picture our Lord’s body hanging there, suffering in anguish and pain, taking the punishment that was rightly due us.

As we drink of the fruit of the vine we envision His precious blood which was poured out for us to cleanse us from all our sins. What great love and concern God and Christ have for us! The Lord wants us to remember what He did for us every first day of the week as the church did in the first century.

We are to remember that our Lord gave up heaven to come to this earth for thirty-three years, and then died for us. We remember the humiliation of the mock trial, the crown of thorns and the terrible scourging that left His back raw and bleeding.

We remember the soldiers gambling for the Lord’s only earthly possession, the clothes on His back. Then we remember the nails as they were driven into His hands and feet, and the cross as it was raised and dropped into the hole.

We also remember the spirit of forgiveness of our Lord, as He was being crucified, when He said in Luke 23:34,

‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’

We remember our Lord’s loud cry of victory in Matthew 27:46,

‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?’

We remember as our Lord hung on the cross, how the people mocked, shamed, and made fun of Him as He was dying not only for their sins but the sins of all mankind.

We remember in Matthew 27:45,

‘Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land’

and in Matthew 27:51,

‘The veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.’

The sun refused to shine and the earth shook because of the death of the Son of God.

We read in 1 Peter 2:24,

‘Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness, by whose stripes you were healed.’

We must first examine ourselves to determine whether we have the right attitude to partake of this memorial. We must put all else from our minds. We should make sure we have our minds centred on what Christ did for us.

We are told in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29,

‘Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.’

We must clear our minds of all other thoughts and centre our minds on the sacrifice of our Lord, or otherwise as 1 Corinthians 11:29 (KJV) says,

‘We eat and drink damnation to ourselves.’

There are four things we need to look at before and whilst we participate in the Supper

1. We need to look back to the cross.

‘For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when 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, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ 1 Corinthians 11:23-25

2. We need to look forward to His return.

‘For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.’ 1 Corinthians 11:26

3. We need to look within ourselves.

‘So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.’ 1 Corinthians 11:27-29

Many Christians today refuse to partake of the Supper because they feel they are ‘unworthy’. The truth is all of us are ‘unworthy’ but this isn’t Paul’s point.

Paul is speaking about the Christian’s attitude towards the Supper, do they partake without really thinking about what the bread and wine symbolise? Do they partake without thinking about what Christ did for them on the cross? If not, they are spiritually crucifying Jesus all over again, hence the need to self-examine first to avoid judgment.

Many Christians today refuse to partake of the Supper because they have a problem with a brother or sister in Christ and so they believe they would be partaking in the Supper in an

‘unworthy manner’.

I find this tragic that Christians refuse to partake of the Supper because they have a problem with someone else. The truth is, Christians shouldn’t be participating in ‘worship’ as a whole, not just the Supper if they have a problem with their brothers or sisters.

‘Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.’ Matthew 5:23-24

I’ve often heard Christians say that we should refuse non-Christians the Lord’s Supper because they will bring

‘judgment on themselves’.

First of all, Paul is writing to Christians and its Christians who should be

‘examining themselves’,

Paul doesn’t deal with non-Christians participating in the Supper. Secondly, if non-Christians partake of the Supper, how much more ‘judgement’ can a non-Christian come under?

Also if we refuse the non-Christian the Supper because only Christians are commanded to partake, we could just as easily say that non-Christians shouldn’t sing either in worship because it’s only Christians who are commanded to sing! Ephesians 5:19 / Colossians 3:15.

I find it fascinating that some Christians will refuse any non-Christian visitor the Supper but will happily take their money for the offering!

I believe the Supper is for Christians but if a non-Christian begins to come regularly to our assemblies, then someone should go and explain to them what the Supper is all about and who it is for.

4. We need to look at each other.

‘So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together.’ 1 Corinthians 11:33

Many people don’t want to remember the Lord’s death for us very often since they only partake of the Lord’s Supper monthly, quarterly, annually, or not at all. The excuse is given that they do not want to partake of it more often because it will become too common place and loose its meaning. But the very opposite is true.

The Lord’s Supper loses its meaning when we choose not to partake and think about it. This would be like saying that we should only pray two or three times a year, for if we prayed more often, then prayer would lose its meaning. This would be absurd.

Does the Lord’s death really mean anything to us?

But Jesus requested in Luke 22:19,

‘Do this in remembrance of Me.’

Do we really care to regularly remember the death of our Lord?

People seem to be turned off by the death of Jesus and the shedding of His blood. They don’t care to remember it. But it is His blood that cleanses us from our sins. As Revelation 1:5 says,

‘To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.’

They had rather remember Him as a babe in a manger than a crucified Saviour. It is an insult to Jesus to celebrate His manger and then ignore His cross. Many people seem to be ashamed of the death of Jesus.

Jesus says in Mark 8:38,

‘For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in His glory of His Father with His holy angels.’

This memorial of our Lord is called ‘the Lord’s Supper’ in 1 Corinthians 11:20 and ‘the Lord’s table’ in 1 Corinthians 10:21. In 1 Corinthians 10:16 it is referred as ‘the breaking of bread’ and ‘communion’.

But the church in the first century met every first day of the week to observe the Lord’s Supper. We are told in Acts 20:7,

‘Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.’

Why did they come together on the first day of the week?

Here we see the church in the first century came together on the first day of every week to break bread, which is the Lord’s Supper. Their primary reason of coming together on the first day of the week was to partake of the Lord’s Supper. We cannot be pleasing to the Lord if we observe the Lord’s Supper only a few times a year or not at all.

In 1 Corinthians 11:26 we are told,

‘For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.’

Are we really interested in proclaiming the Lord’s death to the world until He comes?

People today don’t seem to have a problem with the example to give on the first day of each week as found in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2,

‘Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: on the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside.’

One of the things they were to do when they came together was to give. What else was the church at Corinth to do every first day of the week when they came together?

In 1 Corinthians 11:20 they were condemned for making a gluttonous feast out of the Lord’s Supper and were told,

‘Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.’

When did they come together in one place?

Every first day of the week. What were they doing when they came together every first day of the week? Perverting the Lord’s Supper by making it into a glutinous and drunken feast. What were they supposed to be doing every first day of the week?

Partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Two of the things the church at Corinth did every first day of the week were to give and partake of the Lord’s Supper.

Why shouldn’t we be like those in the first century who assembled on the first day of every week to remember the Lord’s death by partaking of the Lord’s Supper?

But many people seem to have a problem in seeing the importance of partaking of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week as the church in the first century did when it was under inspired apostolic guidance.

When the Jews, who lived under the Old Testament, were commanded to remember the Sabbath Day, that is the seventh day of the week, to keep it holy, they kept all 52 Sabbath Days of the year holy. The first day of the week also occurs 52 times each year.

When Christians today observe the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, they are following the Biblical example of Acts 20 of the disciples who came together on the first day of the week to partake of the Lord’s Supper.

‘On the first day of the week, when we had met to break bread, Paul began to address the people. Since he intended to leave the next day, he went on speaking until midnight.’ Acts 20:7

We also read in Acts 2:42 concerning the church at Jerusalem,

‘And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread and in prayers.’

Again, we see the first century church was steadfast or regular in the breaking of bread which is their observance of the Lord’s Supper. But later men in denominational groups chose to partake of the Lord’s Supper less frequently. Should we be any less regular than the church in the first century?

According to what we have seen in the scriptures, we are to both give and partake of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week.

Could the Bible be any clearer concerning the Lord’s Supper?

Another perversion of the Lord’s Supper occurred when men introduced the absurd doctrine of transubstantiation in the Decrees of the Council of Trent, which met from 1545 to 1563 A.D. This decree devised by men stated that the bread and the fruit of the vine are converted miraculously into the literal body and blood of Jesus when we partake of it. It is sad that men would dare to pervert the Lord’s Supper into such a mockery.

It’s ridiculous to place literal interpretations on symbolic language. In John 15:5 Jesus says,

‘I am the vine, you are the branches.’

Here Jesus is using figurative language because we know He isn’t a literal vine and we aren’t literal branches. In John 10:9 Jesus said,

‘I am the door.’

But again, He uses symbolic language.

Concerning the Lord’s Supper Jesus said in 1 Corinthians 11:25,

‘this do in remembrance of Me.’

The Lord’s Supper is designed to help us remember what the Lord did for us. And as we partake of it as 1 Corinthians 11:26 says,

‘You proclaim the Lord’s death till He Comes’.

We are showing the world that we believe that Jesus died for our sins.

Let’s not pervert the memorial of what the Lord did for us. But as we partake of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week in spirit and in truth, let us steadfastly

‘proclaim the Lord’s death till he comes again.’

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

1 Corinthians 10:13

MENU