One of my greatest privileges as a pastor is to celebrate the Lord’s Supper with the saints at Manor. The following article reminds us what profound truth and soul blazing wonder lays behind this sacred time.
We Can Share in Christ’s Sacrifice and in All His Gifts
April 13, 2017 | Kevin DeYoung
I am not a prolific crier. I don’t often get visibly choked up in front of my congregation. But one of those times came a few years ago while reading the Heidelberg Catechism in preparation for communion.
The Catechism asks, “How does the Lord’s Supper remind you and assure you that you share in Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross and in all his gifts?” Here’s the answer:
In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat this broken bread and to drink this cup. With this command he gave this promise: First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup given to me, so surely his body was offered and broken for me and his blood poured out for me on the cross. Second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the one who serves, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, given me as sure signs of Christ’s body and blood, so surely he nourishes and refreshes my soul for eternal life with his crucified body and poured-out blood. (Q/A 75)
I’ve had church members tell me they’ve cried when hearing these words before Communion. The truth here is that precious. It should stir our affections. I love good music in church and rejoice to see God’s people emotionally engaged in worship. But if our emotion is to be truth driven and not just melody driven, we ought to have profound experiences with responsive readings, creeds, and confessions too. Every time we read the Nicene Creed I want to shout a loud “Amen.” And whenever I read through this Lord’s Day before Communion it makes me well up with tearful joy.
What good news God proclaims to us at the Table! I fear that in some churches this covenant meal is celebrated with such thoughtless monotony that churchgoers endure it rather than enjoy it. But the Lord’s Supper is meant to nourish and strengthen our weak faith. Have you ever come to church feeling dirty and rotten? Have you ever sat through an entire sermon thinking about how you blew it with your wife that morning or how prayerless you’ve been for the past month? Have you ever gotten to the end of a church service only to think, I’m so distracted. I was worried about how I look. I can’t even sit through church right? Have you ever wondered if God can really love you? If so, you need this gospel table.
The Lord knows our faith is weak. That’s why he’s given us sacraments to see, taste, and touch. As surely as you can see the bread and cup, so surely does God love you through Christ. As surely as you chew the food and drink the drink, so surely has Christ died for you. Here at the Table the faith becomes sight. The simple bread and cup give assurance that Christ came for you, Christ died for you, Christ is coming again for you.
Of course, this eating and drinking must be undertaken in faith. The elements themselves do not save us. But when we eat and drink them in faith we can be assured that we receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life. More than that, we get a picture of our union with Christ. As we eat his flesh and drink his blood, we literally have communion with him, not by dragging Christ down from heaven, but by experiencing his presence through his Spirit.
As millions of Christians gather tonight and tomorrow—for many of us, around the Table—let us not come with drudgery. And let not the pastor conduct the liturgy with low energy and little expectations. Rather, let us love and sing and wonder. Let us marvel that before the throne our Surety stands.
Whenever we eat the bread and drink from the cup, we not only re-proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again (1 Cor. 11:26), we re-convince ourselves of God’s provision on the cross. So if you shed a tear at the Table, let it not be out of boredom but out of gratitude and sheer delight.