On the Lord's SupperNov 24, 2022
The Lord’s Supper was established by Christ. Just before the crucifixion Jesus met with His disciples in the upper room to celebrate the Passover. During the meal He broke bread and shared it with them, explaining that this would remind them of His own body broken for them on the cross. He then offered them wine to drink, to remind them of His blood shed to wash away their sins.
This shedding of blood also sealed a new covenant between God and all followers of Christ. The following Bible verses record how the Lord’s Supper began: Matthew 26:26, Luke 22:17; 1 Corinthians 11:23.
The Jewish Passover was the forerunner of the Lord’s Supper. In it the Jews remembered how their lives had been saved because the blood of a lamb had been sprinkled on the doorposts of their houses (Exodus 12). In the Lord’s Supper Christians remember how they have been saved because the blood of Christ has been sprinkled for them. There is therefore a strong link between the Passover and the Lord’s Supper (1 Peter 1:18-21).
Christians continue to celebrate the Lord’s Supper regularly because Jesus Himself has commanded it. In the Lord’s Supper Christ’s death is remembered, His risen presence is experienced and faith and devotion to Him are renewed.
The Lord's Supper is a sacrament.
A sacrament is a visual aid which illustrates and confirms the spiritual truths and promises contained in the gospel. In the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper the bread represents Christ’s body broken on the cross, and the wine His blood shed for the forgiveness of sin. By participating in the Lord’s Supper we share by faith in the living Christ and all the benefits of His death.
A sacrament is meaningless without faith. Those who come to the Lord’s Supper should have faith in Christ as the One who has died for their sins. Read questions 91, 92, 93, 96 and 97 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
The Meaning of Christ’s Death
In the Lord’s Supper we remember Christ’s death for sinners. The Bible teaches us many wonderful things about the death of Christ and its benefits for believers. Take time to consider each of the following:
First of all, in Old Testament times the sins of God’s people were forgiven through the sacrifice of a lamb without spot or blemish. By His death, Christ, the Lamb of God, sacrificed himself once and for all to take away sin. (Hebrews 9:26).
Second, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from every sin (1 John 1:7). This means that sins, past and present, are forgiven as we confess them to God. Christ’s cleansing blood makes believers fit to come to God and to the Lord’s table.
Third, in ancient times a slave could be set free when a ransom price was paid. This process was called ‘Redemption’. The slave was now free to live a new life. The person who provided redemption was called the ‘Redeemer’. Christ, by His death on the cross, paid the ransom price for us. Every Christian has been freed from slavery to sin and now lives a new life in Christ, their Redeemer (Ephesians 1:7, 1
Last, sin has broken that personal relationship which originally existed between God and man. By His death on the cross, Christ removes our sins and reconciles us to God. A new relationship with God begins (Romans 5:10, 2 Corinthians 5:18).
Sharing in the Lord’s Supper
We make preparations for all sorts of events in life. It is very important that we prepare ourselves for this special act of worship. Self-examination should always precede our coming to the Lord’s table (1 Cor. 11:28). The Lord's Supper means:
REMEMBRANCE: In the Lord’s Supper communicant members remember Jesus and His death for their sins, “He loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, Luke 22:19).
THANKSGIVING: At the Lord’s Supper communicants are filled with thanksgiving and praise for all the benefits they have received as a result of Christ’s death.
TESTIMONY: Through the Lord’s Supper communicants give public testimony that Christ has died for their sins and that they now follow Him as Lord (Psalm 116:13-14).
COMMUNION: Christians hold communion with God and with one another. In the Lord’s Supper communicants meet with Christ and Christ with them. Through the Holy Spirit, the risen Christ, the living Lord, is really present with His people as they meet around His table (Revelation 3:20, Hebrews 10:19, 22).
NOURISHMENT: In the Lord’s Supper communicants receive nourishment for their own souls. This does not come from the bread and wine, but from Christ Himself. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35).
EXPECTATION: Sharing in the Lord’s Supper is an enriching experience; for this special meal points forward to the return of Christ and to the bliss of heaven (1 Corinthians 11:2, Revelation 3:20).
Who Should Come to the Lord’s Table?
Sharing in the Lord’s Supper is for those who have received the Lord Jesus Christ into their lives. They recognize that they are sinners in the sight of a holy and perfect God and believe that Christ has died for the forgiveness of their sins. In repentance and faith, they have come to Christ for salvation, have committed their lives to Christ and recognized Him as Lord.
The person who comes to the Lord’s table must be a person who has first come to Christ. Those who have come to Christ will not be perfect, but they will be conscious that the Lord is in their lives and that life is different with Christ. The Westminster Shorter Catechism is helpful in explaining what it means to come to Christ: “Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, by which we receive and rest on Him alone for salvation, as He is offered to us in the gospel.” (Question 86).
According to the Book of Church Order (BCO) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), “Communing members are those who have made a profession of faith in Christ, have been baptized, and have been admitted by the Session to the Lord's Table.” (BCO 6- 2).
It means that, before being admitted to the Lord’s Supper, one needs to be approved by the Session, after having given indication of their desire to participate, and be formally received into full membership of the church. And, “those only who have made a profession of faith in Christ, have been baptized, and admitted by the Session to the Lord's Table, are entitled to all the rights and privileges of the church.” (BCO 6-4).
BCO 57-1. Believers’ children within the Visible Church, and especially those dedicated to God in Baptism, are non-communing members under the care of the Church. They are to be taught to love God, and to obey and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. When they are able to understand the Gospel, they should be earnestly reminded that they are members of the Church by birth right, and that it is their duty and privilege personally to accept Christ, to confess Him before men, and to seek admission to the Lord’s Supper.
BCO 57-2. The time when young persons come to understand the Gospel cannot be precisely fixed. This must be left to the prudence of the Session, whose office it is to judge, after careful examination, the qualifications of those who apply for admission to sealing ordinances.
BCO 57-4. It is recommended, as edifying and proper, that baptized persons, when admitted by the Session to the Lord’s Supper, make a public profession of their faith in the presence of the congregation.
It is essential that those who come to the Lord’s table understand exactly what the Lord’s Supper means and what is required of those who share in it. The Westminster Shorter Catechism is a useful guide. It says, “The right way to receive the Lord’s Supper is to examine whether we discern the Lord’s body, whether our faith feeds on Him, and whether we have repentance, love, and a new obedience – so that we may not come in the wrong way and eat and drink judgement on ourselves.” (Q.97).
Sharing in the Lord’s Supper on profession of faith in Christ is an important step for anyone. Talk to some of the elders of our church to know more about the steps to become a communicant member.