The Lordís Supper Established
In verses 14-18 we are given a record of the Lord Jesus observing the last passover feast with his family, with his disciples. In verses 19 and 20, the ordinance of the Lordís Supper is established. We know that these words refer to the establishing of the Lordís Supper because the Holy Spirit tells us that in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29.
The Savior said, ďThis do in remembrance of me.Ē How many times have we read this command without pausing to consider its implications. The first implication of this command is that this ordinance is for believers only. In order to remember Christ you must first know him. I hope that you do know the Savior. If you do, the Lordís Table is spread for you in his house. But if you do not know him, you must not eat the bread and drink the wine.
††††† Second, this command reveals the love of Christ for us. Our Savior would not care for us to remember him, if he did not love us. Love wants to be remembered. And our Lord Jesus, as he was leaving this world, whispered into the ear of his bride, ďRemember me.Ē
††††† And, third, this command implies a horrible tendency in us to forget our Redeemer. Because our Lord remembers that we are dust, he graciously established this ordinance that we might, in observing it, remember him. The Lordís Supper is his memorial. As we eat the bread and drink the wine, we ought to earnestly pray that God the Holy Spirit will graciously enable us to remember Christ, our Beloved.
††††† In these two verses of Scripture we have complete directions for observing the Lordís Supper. Here we see what it is and how it is to be done. The directions are simple and clear. We must ďthis do.Ē It would not be right to do something else. It would not be right to do this for some other purpose. And it would not be right to do this in some other way. We are, as gathered assemblies of believers, to eat the bread and drink the wine on this table in loving memory of our blessed Redeemer.
There is nothing here that is ornate, mysterious, or even visibly impressive. The ordinances of the gospel are simple, like Christ himself, transparent, and unpretentious. There is nothing here but bread and wine. The Lordís Supper is an ordinance to be frequently observed. Paul said, ďAs often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lordís death Ďtil he come.Ē Because we have a constant need to be reminded of our Lord and his work of redemption, he has given us an ordinance to frequently aid our memory. It is an ordinance to be observed by all the Lordís people.
††††† This ordinance is a token of Godís everlasting covenant of grace. Every time we eat the bread and drink the wine, we should be reminded of that covenant God made with his Son on our behalf before the worlds were made. It is a covenant of grace. It is ordered in all things and sure. It is a covenant ratified by the blood of Christ. This blessed ordinance is a picture sermon of our Redeemerís death. We remember Christ best when we remember his death. The bread is the symbol of his body Ė His righteousness. The wine represents his blood Ė His redemption. And our observance of this ordinance is a picture of our salvation by faith in Christ (John 6:51-56). To trust Christ is to receive him, to eat his flesh and drink his blood.
The ordinance is most inviting, too. We are commanded to keep this ordinance. Our Savior said, ďThis do.Ē Therefore, we may reasonably and safely infer that it is always proper for us do it. It is always proper for Godís people to observe the Lordís Supper, to keep the ordinance, and never proper not to do it. We may eat the Lordís Supper, though we often sadly forget him. In fact, our forgetfulness is a reason to come to this ordinance. We may come to the table, though others forget our Savior. We come not to judge others, but to remember Christ. And if some of our brethren are out of sorts, that does not bar us from the privilege of this ordinance. We may come to this ordinance no matter how weak, cold, and sinful we are. Our worthiness is Christ. We come here to remember his goodness and grace.
It is always sweet, refreshing, and comforting to eat and drink at the Lordís Table. What can be sweeter than the remembrance of Christ? What can be more refreshing to your soul? What can be so comforting to your heart?
The object of this ordinance is that we may remember our dear Savior. ó ďThis do in remembrance of me.Ē We are to observe this ordinance in remembrance of Christ himself, not his doctrines, but himself, not his precepts, but himself. As we eat this bread and drink this wine, let us remember the Lord Jesus. Remember him as the only Object of your faith, the mighty Representative of your soul (past, present, and future), the Joy of your heart, the Rewarder of your hope, and the Lord of your life. Remember Christ. Remember who he is. Remember what he has done. Remember why he did it. Remember what he is to you (1 Cor. 1:30). Remember him with sincere gratitude. Remember him with deep love. Remember him with confident faith.
Let me remind you of four things clearly set before us in this passage. First, the purpose of the Lordís Supper is to perpetually remind us of Christís death for us, to remind us of the cost of our redemption. The bread represents his body, his holy humanity sacrificed for us. The wine represents his precious, sin-atoning blood.
††††† Second, this is not an optional ordinance, any more than baptism is an optional ordinance. It is the privilege and responsibility of every believer to observe the Lordís Supper in remembrance of Christ.
††††† Third, there will always be betrayers in our midst. The words of verses 21 and 22 are so plain that it is obvious that the Holy Spirit intends for us to be reminded that tares always grow side by side with wheat. We are never justified in separating ourselves from Godís church and people because some among us are devils. We are never justified in refusing to observe the Lordís Supper because we imagine that some at the table might be unbelievers.
Fourth, it is your own responsibility, and no one elseís, to examine yourself. You and you alone can determine whether you are worthy to receive the Lordís Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-29). And the singular point of examination is this ó Do you discern the Lordís body? Do you know your need of Christís incarnation and obedience unto death? Do you, or do you not, trust Christ.