On Daily Communion (Part 3): Why Wouldn’t You Want to Encounter Jesus Every Day?

Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

Matthew Henry, the Puritan pastor (whose Bible commentary is still so famous and frequently used all these centuries later), wanted people to remember that the Lord’s Supper is much more than a proclamation of Christ’s death. ‘Here are not only gospel truths represented to us, and confessed by us; but gospel benefits are offered to us, and accepted by us’ (Matthew Henry, The Communicant’s Companion, 54). This is what John Wesley was getting at as well when he wrote about the ‘so great’ benefits of constant Communion. For, in the Breaking of Bread, Matthew Henry reminds us, ‘God … not only assures us of the truth of the promise, but, according to our present case and capacity, conveys to us, by His Spirit, the good things promised.’ And so, in the Supper, we ‘receive Christ Jesus the Lord, Christ and pardon, Christ and peace, Christ and grace, Christ and heaven.’ (Ibid. 55).

Here are the Lord’s Table we feed upon Christ and all His benefits. For this bread is a participation in Christ’s body, and this cup is a participation in His blood (1 Cor. 10:16). And where Christ’s body and blood are, there He is. For Jesus hasn’t given up His body and blood. The Incarnation hasn’t come to an end. So, if at His Table we have communion in the body and blood of Christ, then at His Table we encounter the crucified and risen Lord.

Christ doesn’t just suggest the possibility of His presence at His Table; He promises His presence there. His presence in the Supper isn’t conditional upon the size of the congregation, or the fervency of our prayers, or the skill of our musicians, but only upon His own Word and blessing.

That’s why the early Pentecostals at their Breaking of Bread services could sing prayers like this with such confidence:

Here at Your Table Lord,
Through Your Feast we draw near,
Pour out Your Spirit now,
To know Your presence dear;
From this dark world, our eyes lift up,
As we drink from Redemption’s cup.

Fullness of Heaven’s peace I find,
Here, as with You I meet,
Riches of earth, with such a feast
Never can they compete!

Sweet communion with my Saviour,
Fellowship with Christ, ‘tis bliss!
Here You feed me with Your body,
Wonder of the Cross is this!

Here in Your blood, I’ve communion –
This blest cup, my heart’s delight;
Clinging to Your feet here in love,
Your grace keeps me day and night.

Here at the Lord’s Table we meet with Christ. This is the place where He promises to meet with us more closely than anywhere else, for in the Supper He is not only with us, but even feeds us with Himself. And so, we come to His Supper gladly, saying to the Lord (in Luther’s words), ‘I now come to Your Supper, desiring to eat with You!’

The Lord who is our joy and treasure, our heart’s delight, is present at His Table, and so we should run to the Breaking of Bread rejoicing to meet with our Saviour and enjoy such close communion with Him. As Luther put it in another prayer:

Lord Jesus, I rejoice this morning that I am to go with other good Christians into Your house for Your great goodness to partake of Your body and blood with, in, and under the consecrated bread and wine. Oh, how my soul longs for the courts of the Lord and for Your holy altar! … Let Your grace, which is capable of all things, make me worthy and perfectly equipped, that the blessed food and drink of Your true body and blood may refresh my soul in the heavenly feast of love and joy!

Now, you might not quite agree with all of Luther’s understanding of the Lord’s Supper (not all Pentecostals do), but that doesn’t mean you can’t eagerly run to the Table to rejoice in Christ’s presence. Matthew Henry and Charles Spurgeon didn’t agree with Luther’s doctrinal understanding of the sacrament. But that didn’t stop these pillars of British evangelical piety rejoicing in the Lord’s presence at His Table, and encouraging us to as well:

We must be more than spectators, we must eat of the sacrifice, and so ‘partake of the altar.’ The bread which came down from heaven was not designed merely for showbread, bread to be looked upon, but for household bread, bread to be fed upon, bread to strengthen our hearts, and wine to make them glad … If we do not all eat, and be not all filled abundantly, with the goodness of His house, it is our own fault. … We are here to receive Jesus Christ the Lord, and since ‘with Him God freely gives us all things,’ we must with him by faith take what He gives; ‘all spiritual blessings in heavenly things by Christ Jesus.’ … See a door here opened in heaven … let this [Supper] do something of the work of heaven upon thee, God having provided in it something of the pleasures of heaven for thee … Let every sacrament be to thee a heaven upon earth. (Matthew Henry, Communicant’s Companion, 172-173, 189-190)

It is the actual … coming of Jesus which we so much desire … the true and real presence of Jesus with His people: such presence has been real to my spirit … As surely as the Lord Jesus really came as to His flesh to Bethlehem and Calvary, so surely does He come really … to His people in the hours of their Communion with Him. … He calls upon us to eat bread with Him; yea, to partake of Himself, by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Oh, that we may pass beyond the outward signs into the closest intimacy with Himself! … Now we enter the holy of holies, and come to the most sacred meeting-place between our souls and God … That He is here we are sure, for here is His flesh, and here is His blood. You see the outward tokens, may you feel the unseen reality; for we believe in His real presence.
(Charles Spurgeon, Till He Come, pp.12, 70, 106)

At His Table, Jesus meets with us, in all His grace and love and peace and joy. As Spurgeon put it, ‘the moments we are nearest to heaven are those we spend at the Lord’s table.’ So why wouldn’t you want to encounter Jesus like this every day?