The Lord's Supper
George Everard, 1885
"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." 1 Corinthians 11:24
There are two views of the Lord's Supper, neither of which ought to be forgotten.
1. The central idea is the remembrance of the death of Christ.Our Church puts it very beautifully in the exhortation addressed to the believers, "To the end that we should always remember the exceeding great love of our Master and only Savior Jesus Christ thus dying for us, and the innumerable benefits which, by His precious blood-shedding, he has obtained for us, He has instituted and ordained holy mysteries as pledges of His love, and for a continual remembrance of His death, to our great and endless comfort." The remembrance of Christ in the Supper is the root and spring of all the benefits which are found in the reception of it. A true remembrance of the Lord Jesus, awakened by the Spirit of remembrance (John 14:26), becomes a mighty power in the soul.
It deepens contrition and humility. Think of the Savior stooping so low to bear your guilt. Think of your sins as fixing the nails in His hands and feet, and encircling His head with the crown of thorns. Think of all the shame and the anguish which fell upon Him through your iniquities and this more than anything will lead you to own and hate the evil you have done.
It gives peace to the troubled conscience. Nothing gives such assurance of free and perfect forgiveness, as a believing remembrance of the Lamb of God. To see His wounds, to see His blood shed upon the cross and sprinkled before the mercy-seat for you, assures you that your iniquity is forgiven, and your sin covered.
It awakens lively gratitude. Who can remember the Savior's love in His self-sacrifice, without desiring to love Him more? If Christ did so much and bore so much for my salvation shall I not give Him my whole heart, and strive to go forth and win the souls He died to save?
And this thought of remembrance may point out who are invited to His Table. It may show you plainly whether you have a right to draw near. For who is the worthy believer? It is he who desires to remember Christ. Ask yourself, Do I remember Christ through the week? Do I remember His precepts, His promises, His presence? Is it a pleasure to me to think of Him when I lay my head on my pillow at night, when I arise in the morning, in my prayers, in my daily duties, in my troubles and difficulties?
If so, you may feel sure that you are a welcome guest at His Table. Though you may feel conscious of great failures in duty, and many falls in your walk yet if you grieve over them, and your heart is towards Christ, you may come to His Table, and be sure that He will give you fresh strength and peace and blessing.
And this leads us to the second view of the Holy Communion.
2. It is a season when Christ Himself will meet with you. The promise at the head of this chapter is never more graciously fulfilled than at this Feast. We are to believe in the Real Presence in the Lord's Supper. Yet not a Presence in the elements, but in the heart. Not the Presence of Christ as dying but as risen, and living for evermore. And it is by the light of the Holy Spirit that the Presence of Christ is realized in the Supper.
It is the Holy Spirit who calms the mind, and removes the veil of earthly things. The soul disturbed by care or passion, or the love of the world is shut out from the vision of God. But when the Spirit drives these away, it is possible to see Him who is invisible. Those who are pure in heart can see God, even here. When the mists roll away, the Sun of righteousness shines within.
The Holy Spirit opens the eye to see Christ very close at hand at His Table. He has said, "The world sees Me no more, but you see Me." Especially may we look for this manifestation of Christ when we obey His last command, and eat the bread and drink the wine that point to Him. When next you draw near, believe that in love He stands very near. Be sure that He is there in the midst. Be sure that He is with you of a truth. It is thus that He shows His marvelous loving-kindness. He is with you at His Table. He shows the light of His countenance. He feeds and nourishes the soul that by faith partakes of the emblems of His death. He strengthens; He consoles; He quickens.
Therefore prize and value this sacred Feast. Never neglect it. Never turn away from it. But come again and again. Come in a spirit of faith, looking unto Jesus in your heart. Come in a spirit of devout thankfulness, praising Him for all His grace and love. Come in a spirit of brotherly love, reckoning all who come to that Table as members with you in the household of God.
"See, the feast of love is spread,
Drink the wine and break the bread;
Sweet memorials, til the Lord
Call us round His heavenly board
Some from earth, from glory some,
Severed only until He come."