The Significance of the Supper
Jesus provided the church a pathway of worship together through the observance of the Lord’s Supper. Through this experience, the Lord meets with his people and strengthens their faith as they remember his gospel, hold fast the unity of the Spirit, and anticipate his return.
Worship through the Supper
When Christ established the Supper, he was preparing his disciples for a Passover unlike any they had ever experienced (Luke 22:14-21). The purpose of Passover was to commemorate the salvation of the Israelites when death came to the firstborn of each Egyptian family. The Jewish people were rescued from enslavement and fled Egypt. In the same way, Christ delivered his people from sin through his death, burial, and resurrection. His sacrifice brought redemption.
Christ is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). “Jesus on the same night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me’” (1 Cor 11:23-24). When we partake of the Supper, we are remembering the broken body of the Lord on the cross. During this unique time of worship together, the Lord shares his intimate presence with us. Our faith in Christ is strengthened through this. Likewise, when we take the cup, we are remembering the blood the Lord shed to secure our redemption. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. This do, as often as you drink it in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:25-26).
The book of Hebrews sheds light on the new covenant, “…Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant…I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be my people” (Hebrews 8:7-10) Concerning sacrifice for sin, the Scripture goes on to say, “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13)
Unity through the Supper
In the early church, the congregation would often come together for a fellowship meal, followed by worship through the Lord’s Supper. Unfortunately, the Corinthians had to be warned by the Apostle Paul. They had been allowing ongoing division and factions. This disrupted the unity of the body. They displayed selfishness through their behavior. Many were placing themselves ahead of others at the fellowship meal. This left some hungry, while others became drunk in excess (1 Cor 11:17-22). The disparity of proportions exhibited symptoms of a self-focused group of people rather than a Christ-centered church. The ensuing judgment was severe, “for this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.” (1 Cor 11:30)
When we approach the table, we need to take an inventory of our hearts and attitudes toward others. Are we holding resentments? Are we walking in a spirit of submission to the Lord? “…let a man examine himself” (1 Cor 11:28) The Scripture describes a particular sin that occurs when we do not approach the Supper with reverence. “…whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:27).
Anticipation through the Supper
When we partake of the Supper, we are looking forward to the return and reign of Christ. This is a time when we will worship the Lord together with all the saints. “And I heard a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thundering, saying, ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns…’Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (Rev 19:6-9)