The Last Supper — The Lord’s Supper

communionLast Sunday we looked at Thursday of Passion Week when Jesus observed the Passover with his disciples and redefined it for you and me to have a visual/physical reminder of His sacrifice. John Stott, in his book The Cross of Christ, says that the supper shows “the central importance which Jesus attached to his death.” He goes on to say that importance is “underlined by the fact that He as actually giving instructions for the annual celebration of the Passover to be replaced by his own supper.” Another theologian that I respect is John Frame. This week in an article he said, “In our worship service, the Supper comes at the end, before the benediction. We use some words to explain the (ordinance), but for the most part, the (ordinance) is an image. The bread is broken and distributed to those who have received Jesus by faith. We eat together. Then we drink the cup as well.” He goes on, “The Lord’s Supper is the Bible in summary form.

That is all to say, the Lord’s Supper is important as a visual image of the gospel of Jesus as well as the message of the whole of scripture.

Some have asked, why do we observe the Lord’s supper every month (usually on the 3rd Sunday)? My standard answer is, “Yeah, I know, we don’t observe it nearly enough.” I find out quickly that is not the direction their question is going!! But I knew that before I gave my answer. But my answer is sincere.  The early church observed it every time they gathered, Sunday and other times. Honestly, that would be my preference. They were historically much closer to the event than we are, yet they saw the necessity of visually remembering the death of our Lord over and over. Talking about something is one thing, “seeing” it is quite another.

I know the argument that doing it often will make it “routine” and just going through the motion. I believe that doing it that often will force us to remember the death of our Lord with more clarity and passion, if we approach it rightly. Granted, that is a heart issue. But the reason for doing it often is to effect your heart. To focus on the gift you have been given by God’s grace. So if Frame is right, and I believe he is, “The Lord’s Supper is the Bible in summary form.” So we will remember the fall, our (and humanity’s) sin and brokenness, and most of all His sacrifice that we might be made whole again and brought into relationship with our creator and God, and adopted into His family to call Him “Father.”

In one of the Puritan prayers in Valley of Vision, offers this for us to pray as we come to the Lord’s Supper:

By Your Spirit enliven my faith to rightly discern
and spiritually to apprehend the Savior.

While I gaze upon the emblems of my Savior’s death,
may I ponder why He died, and hear Him say,
“I gave My life to purchase yours ,
presented Myself an offering to propitiate your sin,
shed My blood to blot out your guilt,
endured your curses to set you free,
bore your condemnation to satisfy divine justice.”

May we reflect upon this as we come . . .