Wednesday Words: Eucharist
The Eucharist, Communion, Lord's Supper, Breaking of Bread: they're all different ways of talking about the same thing and so they're all this Wednesday's Wednesday Word. (I would have put them all in the title, but it would have been a bit long!) It's a meal that Jesus instituted for His disciples involving prayer, Christ's words, breaking the bread, and the giving and eating of bread and wine. That's clear enough as we do it each Lord's Day morning. But what are we doing when we come to the Table? What sort of meal is it?
1.) A Commemoration
When Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper he told His disciples to do it 'in remembrance of me' (1 Cor. 11:24-25). So when we come to the table, we look to Christ and what He has done to save us in the breaking of His body and pouring our of His blood in His atoning death on the cross. The sacrament keeps us grounded in what's most important: Christ and Him crucified. So in the breaking of bread we look back to the Cross.
2.) A Proclamation
When we celebrate the Lord's Supper, we 'proclaim the Lord's death till He comes' (1 Cor. 11:26). So the sacrament isn't just something to jog our memory, but a public proclamation of the gospel. To whom are we proclaiming the gospel at the Table? Well, there may well be non-Christians in the service, so when we come to Communion, we have a great opportunity to ensure they hear the gospel clearly. And so, at the Table, we look outward to others. But not only that, the Christians who are there need to hear the gospel proclaimed too! The gospel isn't just a message for the beginning of the Christian life, but for the whole of the Christian life. As we come to the table each Lord's Day, our focus is brought back to the gospel by which we live.
3.) An Anticipation
The gospel proclamation of the Lord's Table continues 'till He comes' (1 Cor. 11:26). At the Table we're reminded that Jesus is coming again and that then we shall be with Him forever. On the night that Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper, He said 'I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God' (Mark 14:25). So each Sunday in the sacrament we have a foretaste of the great feast we'll share with Him at His return, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. At the Table we look forward to Christ's return.
4.) A Participation
The sacrament is much more than a reminder. Jesus said 'this is my body ... this is my blood.' In the previous chapter of 1 Corinthians that gets explained a bit more: 'The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?' (1 Cor. 10:16). The Table isn't simply aout us remembering Jesus; it's about Jesus feeding us with Himself. As we eat the bread and drink the wine we feed upon Christ in our hearts by faith.