In the Protestant Church we celebrate two sacraments, namely The Lord’s Table and Baptism. Like other things, we do these but seldom reflect upon why we do them. Today and tomorrow I want to look at why we come to the Lord’s Table. Many do but what does it mean to them? What does it mean to the Lord? These and many other questions are overlooked when coming to the Table. So, what is happening?
1) We come to celebrate the Lord’s Table as an act of obedience.
Mt 26:26 “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.”
When you look at the construction of the phrases “take and eat: and “drink from it”, you don’t see a suggestion or an invitation. You see an instruction or a command. Why would Jesus want to command us to come to the Table? This is directed at the Believer not the casual church goer or the person Christianized. It is to the believer … why? The Substitutionary, Penal, Sacrifice of Jesus is the greatest miracle ever seen. This is God coming to earth, paying the sin price for those who believe and dying their death as a punishment for sin. But more … as promised, on the third day Jesus rose from the dead and in doing so, gained the greatest victory … because it was victory over the devil, the world and the flesh. All this for those He died for. Therefore the command is that we attend this sacrament together with the Body of Believers to never lose sight of what our Lord and Saviour has done for us.
2) We come to celebrate the Lord’s Table as an act of remembrance. Luke writes:
Lk 22:19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
And Paul writes:
1Co 11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night 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, 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.”
The basic Gospel message is about Jesus’ death in the body, shedding His blood to cleanse sin and remove guilt. When Jesus says … “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” and “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me” … He is saying that He does not want you and me to ever forget what He did for us. We don’t come to the Table for a spiritual high, we come to remember what He did for us. He did what we could not do. The message is “never, never, never forget what I did for you!”
3) We come to celebrate the Lord’s Table as a testimony to His death.
1 Cor 11:26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Just as the animal under the Levitical Sacrificial System was slaughtered … so was Jesus. When crucifying criminals they had a habit of breaking their leg bones so that they could not push upwards (push against the nail in the feet and pull on the nails in the wrists) to inhale fresh oxygen and then sag down again to exhale, prolonging life. Broken leg bones prevented this and hastened suffocation (death). When they inspected the three crucified that day, two of them had their legs broken but Jesus was already dead and a soldier pierced a sword into His side. He was dead already. Jesus needed to die for without dying there could be no resurrection and no victory over the devil, the world and the flesh. Jesus died. He needed to die and at the Lord’s Table we remember His death … in our place.
4) We come to celebrate the Lord’s Table to confess that salvation is through Jesus’ Blood.
Mat 26:28 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Rev 1:5 from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood
We are told in Hebrews:
Heb 9:22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
No “Blood”, no forgiveness. Now when thinking of Jesus’ Blood, we cannot forget this was not just human blood. Jesus was God incarnate. God came to earth and took the form of man to meet man’s sin need, but He remained sinless because He was born sinless. There was no human father involved in Mary’s pregnancy. The Holy Spirit in some miraculous manner came upon Mary and she conceived. Remember she was a virgin. This birth was indeed miraculous. This means that no human father means no transfer of the sinful disposition all humans inherit from their father because of Adam’s sin. Human blood is tarnished with sin and guilt and unacceptable to the Father whilst Jesus’ Blood was totally pure, undefiled and acceptable as the sin price. This is the reason we as followers of the Lord Jesus make so much of His Blood for without it we would be lost in our sin and guilt and would face an eternal future of ruin and damnation.
Tomorrow we will return to this matter, but for right now, does coming to the Lord’s Table make more sense? When you come to the Table again, will you be able to stop and reflect more carefully on the meaning of why it is so important to come to the Table? After all, the Lords Table is the supreme revelation of God’s love expressed at Calvary!
Dear God, grant me more patience and deeper thought when next I’m at the Table remembering your supreme love for a sinner such as I am. Thank You for the Cross. Thank You for the Blood. Thank You for salvation. Amen.