Q104. What is the Lord’s Supper?
A104. The Lord’s Supper is a holy ordinance, in which, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ’s appointment, His death is showed forth, and the worthy receivers are––not after a literal and bodily manner, but by faith––made partakers of His body and blood, with all His benefits, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26. “23I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 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.” 25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”
1 Corinthians 10:16. “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?
Like baptism, the Lord’s Supper was instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ for His Bride, the Church. It is holy in the sense that it is for the members of the Body of Christ alone. None who are outside of the visible Church have the right or privilege to partake. Partakers must be those who “profess repentance towards God and faith in and obedience toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and to none other.” In other words, the Lord’s Supper is set apart for those who have been set apart by God as His people.
As it is seen in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 1 Corinthians 11, physical elements are used in the Lord’s Supper. The Lord Jesus gives thanks, takes the bread, breaks it, and eats. Likewise, He gives thanks, takes the cup, and drinks it. Bread and wine were common elements in the Jewish culture. Bread was basic to physical nourishment. Wine was common to drink. But, whatever our conviction is about leavened versus unleavened bread, juice versus wine, the focus of the Lord’s Supper shouldn’t be on the elements themselves but on what and who is pictured in the Lord’s Supper.
In the Lord’s Supper, the death of Christ is shown. The bread is broken or ripped apart. This pictures His violent death. He was broken or ripped apart at the crucifixion under the wrath of God. He was put under the wrath of God because He became a curse, He was made to be sin. He was treated as if what the prophet Isaiah said of Israel were true of Him. In Isaiah 59 the prophet proclaims:
“2But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken falsehood, Your tongue mutters wickedness… 6Their works are works of iniquity, And an act of violence is in their hands. 7 Their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, Devastation and destruction are in their highways. 8 They do not know the way of peace, And there is no justice in their tracks; They have made their paths crooked, Whoever treads on them does not know peace.”
The wine was poured out into a cup and drank. The wine pictures the new covenant in Christ’s blood which was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Again, the violent death of Christ is pictured. He was nailed to the cross by His hands and feet, the crown of thorns pierced His brow, and after He died, His side was pierced by a spear. In each of these activities, His blood was shed; He was slaughtered and THE passover lamb was sacrificed.
In His death, the new covenant is begun. In His death, there is forgiveness of sins, there is full atonement for sins; for the so called culturally acceptable sins and universally detested sins; for sins past, present, and future.
Being a worthy receiver or partaker of the Lord’s Supper isn’t an external matter, a matter of merely eating and drinking with your mouth. Now, it is true that you must eat and drink to participate in the Lord’ Supper externally or outwardly. Seeing the meal isn’t enough. You must take and eat. So, what is being a worthy receiver or partaker all about?
Being a worthy receiver or partaker of the Lord’s Supper is an internal matter, a matter of eating and drinking with your heart, mind, and soul by faith. It isn’t enough to see the physical elements of the Lord’s Supper. It isn’t enough to eat the bread and drink the cup in the Lord’ Supper. It isn’t enough to read about Christ on the pages of Scripture, to read about Him in good books, or to talk about Him with fellow church members, family, and friends.
Jesus said, in John 6: “53Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”
Jesus said we must spiritually take and eat of Him. We must receive Him by faith and receive true spiritual nourishment for our souls. By spiritually taking and eating of Him, we receive all His benefits. That is, we receive all the benefits of His finished work. And, through an ongoing (or abiding) eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood by faith, we experience growth in grace.
We who are spiritually eating and drinking of Christ can and must physically eat and drink of the Lord’s Supper. Granted that we examine ourselves and find that we are not harboring any known sin(s).
As often as we take the Lord’ Supper, we do so in remembrance of Christ. During the act of the Lord’s Supper we don’t check out and put our hearts and minds in neutral. To the contrary, we deliberately focus our hearts and minds on the Person and work of Christ. By doing this, we are spiritually nourished and grow in grace.
As often as we take the Lord’ Supper, we are publically proclaiming His death until He comes. In the Lord’s Supper, we decisively announce (to those in the congregation and to the world) that the death of Jesus Christ is the means of forgiveness of sins and justification before God. We seek to do so out of obedience to Christ and for the eternal good of those around us.
For both the believer and the unbeliever I want to ask: Are you spiritually hungry? Come to the Bread of Heaven. Are you spiritually thirsty? Come to the Fountain of Living Water. Do not seek to satisfy yourself with that which is not Christ. Listen carefully to Christ, take and eat of Him, and delight yourself, nourish yourself in abundance today. Amen.