THE LORD’S SUPPER
Notes of an address given at a meeting of ministers by
Timothy Field of Tonbridge.
‘The Lord’s Supper is the sweetest of all ordinances.’
a) Because of the time when it was instituted. ‘The Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread’. 1 Cor 11:23. How amazing that He should remember our comfort at such a time!
b) Because it is a believer’s ordinance. It is intended only for those who know and love the Lord Jesus.
c) Because Christ is the beginning, middle, and end of it. It is all ‘Christ and Him crucified’. These things give a peculiar sweetness to the broken bread and poured out wine’. M’Cheyne.
a) ‘Breaking of bread’ Acts 2:42; 20:7.
b) ‘Communion’ I Cor 10:16.
c) The Lord’s Table’ 1 Cor 10:21.
d) ‘The Lord’s Supper’ I Cor 11:20. Subsequently
e) Eucharist = Thanksgiving
f) Sacrament from ‘sacramentum’ – the oath of allegiance a Roman soldier gave to the emperor. Thus ‘any sacred and binding obligation into which a person entered’. So we should pledge ourselves afresh in devotion and love to Christ. God has bound Himself in covenant to us and we should bind ourselves to Him. Eating with a person was a sign of friendship and loyalty.
We may not be happy with the associations of these last two names but there is nothing wrong with the names themselves.
2. A Glimpse of Christ’s Heart.
‘Jesus… having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.’ John 13:1.
‘With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.’ Luke 22:15.
‘But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’ Matt 26:29.
3. The Hearts of Others.
a) Lack of humility. Not one of the disciples had undertaken the task of feet washing.
b) Strife. ‘… there was also a strife among them, which of them
should be accounted the greatest.’ Luke 22:24.
c) Treachery. ‘Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.’ Matt 26:21.
d) Disloyalty. ‘All ye shall be offended because of me this night.’ Matt 26:31.
4. Sequence of Events.
At what stage did Judas Iscariot go out? My view is that Matthew and Mark give the chronological order of events. Ernest Kevan says: ‘In Luke 22 we have not so much an order of events as an order of thought’.
In John 13:10 Jesus said: ‘… and ye are clean, but not all’. If Judas was present at the Lord’s Supper, would not the Lord have included a similar caveat when He said; ‘This is my body which is given for you’?
(I have used Ernest Kevan’s headings in this section.)
a) A Commanded Remembrance. Jesus said; ‘Do this’. It could be rendered, ‘Keep on doing this’. Paul wrote: ‘I have received of the Lord’, indicating divine authority.
b) A Visible Remembrance. The Lord knows our need. He knows our weakness. He gives us something visible and tangible. Bread broken, wine poured out. They are metaphors.
c) A Personal Remembrance. Remember Him. He suffered. He died. He lives. He loves. He intercedes. He is with us.
d) A Spiritual Remembrance. It calls for the exercise of spiritual graces – faith, hope, love. We want to feed on Him who has said, ‘My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed’. John 6:55.
e) A Strengthening Remembrance. As bread and wine refresh, nourish and strengthen our bodies, so this ordinance serves to refresh, nourish and strengthen our souls, and to confirm us in Christ.
6. Covenant Blessings.
In the language used by the Lord Jesus there is an evident allusion to Ex 24:3-8 and Jer 31:31-34.
Jesus is ‘Surety of a better testament’ Heb 7:22.
‘He is the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises’. Heb 8:6.
His blood is ‘the blood of the everlasting covenant’ Heb 13:20.
He cannot fail.
Believers express their unity in Christ by eating and drinking together.
‘And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and
fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers’. ‘And all that believed were together’. Acts 2:42, 44.
‘For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread’. 1 Cor 10:17.
‘When ye come together’ 1 Cor 11:17, 20, 33. There is such an emphasis on being together.
‘Ye do show the Lord’s death’ 1 Cor 11:26. Together we proclaim the following: His body was broken. His blood was shed. On this we depend. This is the sacrifice that procured our salvation. Just as bread sustains our bodies, so His sacrifice sustains our spiritual life.
‘Till he come’. Jesus looked forward, and so should we. His church is being built. One day it will be complete. One day all His redeemed will be gathered to Him, to be with Him for ever.
‘He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied’. Isa53:ll.
‘Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb’. Rev 19:9.
‘But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup’. 1 Cor 11:28.
The following verse (29) has troubled many. I prefer the marginal, NKJV rendering, ‘judgement’. ‘Context is king’. The context makes it clear that true believers at Corinth were eating and drinking in an unworthy manner, and were being chastened for it. True believers cannot be damned, but they will be chastened. Some at Corinth were coming without due reverence, as if it was an ordinary meal.
It is essential that those who participate in the Lord’s Supper know what it is all about.
The Puritans and others spoke of signs and seals. Illustration: A picture of the queen is like a sign. A kind letter from the queen is like a seal, ‘a token for good’.
The following is condensed from John Owen:
1. General Preparation.
a) The necessity of it. Gen 35:1-5, Jacob preparing to worship at Bethel. Ex 19:10, 11, The Israelites at Sinai. 2 Chron 30:18-20 illustrates inadequate preparation.
b) Two Aspects.
a) Remember He is the Author of the Ordinance.
b) He is the Object of worship. Therefore seek a sense of His
general and special presence, and a sense of His holiness. Isa 6.
Seek to glorify Him, to be accepted by Him, and to be blessed by Him according to His promise. ii) Personal.
a) Seek a sense of the evil of sin. Psalm 66:18.
b) Self-abasement is necessary. We need to realise the great distance between God and ourselves. Gen 18:27; Isa 57:15.
c) Love to, and delight in God’s ordinances is a most desirable preparation. Psalm 84:1, etc.
2. Special Preparation.
a) Meditation. The following should be profitable:
i) The sinfulness of sin – its guilt and provocation. How heinous it is, that nothing less than the dreadful sufferings and death of Christ could atone for it.
ii) ‘The purity, holiness and severity of God in not sparing His Son.
iii)The infinite wisdom and love of God in finding out this way.
iv) The infinite love of Christ Himself.
v) The purpose in it all – reconciliation and peace with God. Note: We should concentrate on what is likely to be most helpful to our present condition. Make the most of any special influence. Record blessings for future encouragement.
b) Examination. We should examine ourselves especially regarding repentance and faith.
i) Do I habitually mourn over sin in the light of Calvary? Joy and sorrow go well together.
ii) Have I repented of sins that I have been guilty of since the last Communion Service?
iii)Have I cherished any special intimations of God’s love?
iv)Am I trusting alone in Christ for life, mercy, salvation and blessing?
c) Supplication. We need to pray that God will bless our meditation, accept our repentance, relieve our fears, and meet with us according to His promise.
d) Expectation. Faith leads to this. Let us anticipate the fulfilment of our desires.
This Do in Remembrance of Me. R. M. M’Cheyne. Memoir and
The Lord’s Supper. Ernest P. Kevan.
Sacramental Discourses – V & VI. John Owen. Works – Vol. 9.