Purpose of the Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper is to be a time of “remembering the Lord,” and as such it is a time of worship. While certain spiritual activities are appropriate at other times, they are not fitting as we gather to remember the Lord. We do not gather here to perform, or to be entertained.

All that is done is to focus our attention upon the Lord and to exalt Him. He is to have the preeminent place in the gathering (Col. 1:18). If a portion of Scripture is read, it is to direct our hearts and minds towards the Person and work of Christ. Hymns and audible worship should likewise exalt the Lord.

While the men are to lead in public worship, all believers, men and women alike, are spiritual priests and should be worshipping (1 Pet. 2:5). Each heart is to be occupied with Christ and when this is so, much worship will ascend to the Lord.

The word “remember” speaks of a “fond remembrance.” One obviously must know the Lord if he is to have a fond remembrance of Him. It has been well said, “As a Jew, Judas had a right to celebrate the Passover, but, not being a saint, he had no such right to participate in the Lord’s Supper.” Peter said, “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious” (1 Pet. 2: 7). While no Christian who is walking properly is to be denied the privilege of remembering the Lord, the Lord’s Supper is not a public gathering to which all are invited. As on the night on which it was instituted, it is those who know Him personally as Savior who are to gather and unite their hearts in worship.

The bread reminds us of Jesus, who said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). He was that bread from heaven, God tabernacling among men in a human body. In this body He gave Himself for us — “This is my body given for you.” While man is responsible for his rejection and crucifixion of Christ, Jesus said, “I lay down my life…No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself” (John 10:17, 18). Paul spoke of Him “who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). Scripture teaches us that “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it” (Eph. 5:25).

But we must not be so taken up with the ugliness of that hour that we miss the beauty of the Person who gave Himself for us. He said, “Do this in remembrance of ME.” It is not the language of Scripture to say, “We remember the Lord in His death.” While His death is pictured in the emblems, and we dare not forget the perfection of His work, for without it there would be no such gathering, we must not do so at the expense of Himself. It is far too common for His people to be taken up with His sufferings and their blessings to the point where He is forgotten. As the hymn writer has said, it is possible to “see the signs, but see not Him.” We must see the glories and beauties of the Person who gave Himself for us and worship Him accordingly. For example, think of the mind of Christ. What led Him, the Word who was with God and was God, to come to this sin-cursed world and endure the cross? (John 1:1). The Spirit of God tells us of His mind, or attitude, which led Him to come. It was a mind that “put others first” (Phil. 2:3-8). The One who has such a mind deserves our worship. Often we concentrate solely on the fact that Christ died for us. As wonderful as this is, there is a more important truth — that is that He first died to satisfy God. By the cup we are reminded of His life which was poured out at Calvary as a sacrifice which completely propitiated, or satisfied God with regard to our sins. By His “one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). It is the perfection of His work which allows God to be ”just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). The hymn writer has well said, “Oh, the peace forever flowing from God’s thoughts of His own Son! Oh, the peace of simply knowing on the cross that all was done!” The best view of Calvary is from above, seeing it through the eyes of the Father as He saw His Son finishing the work He was sent to do (John 17:4; 19:30). While much could be said concerning the blood of Christ which is pictured in the cup, one Scripture reminds us that it was “precious” (1 Pet. 1:19). It is the value of the blood of Christ that is the basis for Peter’s exhortation to holiness. He reminds us that we were not simply redeemed with silver and gold, “but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:1519). It cost the Lord a great deal to redeem our souls, and as such we ought to live accordingly, keeping in mind that we have been bought with a great price (1 Cor. 6:20).

While the emblems remind us of a dying Savior, we must keep in mind that we worship a “living Lord.” This is seen by the fact that as we partake of the bread and cup we proclaim the Lord’s death “till He come” (1 Cor. 11:26).

–Michael Dorsey

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