My Sunday school lesson this past week was about The Lord’s Supper . . . which the Lord established as He shared the Passover meal with His disciples in the Upper Room He had borrowed (Matthew 26).
Most denominations observe sacraments and rituals as elements of worship. I am a Baptist and as such do not observe or participate in such practices. Baptist do, however, observe two ordinances . . . Baptism and The Lord’s Supper. You might wonder what the difference might be. An Ordinance is . . . a decree . . . an edict . . . or a directive from an authority. Jesus told His followers, “This do in remembrance of me.”
For us as humans, remembering is important business. We remember people, places, dates, and events. On one hand, we keep things fresh in our minds and memories with parades, reenactments, family gatherings, and oftentimes with a moment of silence. On the other hand, we keep things alive and fresh with the reselling of them. The Lord certainly instructed the Covenant people to observe a number of Holy days which were remembrances of their experience and His acts on their behalf. As they observed each event and told their children and grandchildren of their history, it made the event alive for the new generation.
Do you know that The Lord’s Supper is observed all across the free world? It serves as a deeply meaningful and important act of devotion. It is a means by which we honor our risen Lord, and relate the Gospel message of love, redemption, and hope.
Just as the Passover and its associated meal was a foreshadowing of the Jewish people’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage, The Lord’s Supper is a foreshadowing of the deliverance of those who trust Jesus. Deliverance from what you might ask? Deliverance from the stains, chains, and pains of sin . . . deliverance from the penalty of sin . . . deliverance from death, hell, and the grave.
Jesus and His Disciples observed the Passover meal together. It was an event that was traditionally a family gathering at which the Father or Grandfather acted as the host. Jesus had been teaching the disciples that they were a new kind of family. As the event drew close, the Disciples followed Jesus’ instructions and prepared for The Supper.
Do you know that when The Lord’s Supper is observed, there are things that must first be done to prepare? The place must be made ready, the elements must be secured and prepared, and the worship service must be finalized. The most important preparation that must be made is in the heart and minds of each Believer. The Apostle Paul wrote of this individual preparation in 1 Corinthians 11:26-28, which reads:
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death until He returns. Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread or drink this cup of the Lord unworthily shall be guilty of the Lord’s body and blood. So let everyone examine himself and let him eat and drink . . . for this cause . . . many are weak and sick among you.”
Self-examination is an important element or step in the observance of this Ordinance. Such self-examination might well require one to both repent all and rebuke all.
Of course, we partake of the bread and the cup as a symbol of Jesus’ death and it ought to spur us to be mindful of the great cost of our redemption. It also reminds us that this was the one and only method ordained by God for the forgiveness of sin.
It Seems to Me . . . that The Lord’s Supper has three heavy-duty meanings, which are as follows:
. . . It reminds us of what Jesus did for us in the past,
. . . It reminds us of our present relationship with Him, and
. . . It is a promise of what He will do for us in the future!
Do you know that Jesus’ sacrificial death was a tremendous gift to mankind? It is precious.
How is it that we are to respond to such a gift of great value . . . a gift of personal sacrifice? How should we receive such a gift? With mourning and regret? Not by a long shot . . . that is not how this Giver wants us to receive His great gift. He wants us to receive His gift with grateful hearts, as an expression of His great love! In fact, He told His followers, “You will weep and lament . . . you shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned to great joy.” (John 16:20)
It is a picture of the great wedding banquet in which we will participate when He comes and collects us and delivers us to our Father in Glory!