Five Looks at the Lord’s Table

Paul tells us in I Corinthians 11:27 that “whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.” The Scriptures tells us that we eat the Lord’s Supper in a worthy/proper/careful manner by looking in five directions.[1]

First, we look back. Jesus gave this covenant meal to His church through the apostles so that we might have a way to perpetually remember and renew our faith in the gospel. He knew that we would be prone to wander, prone to forget His covenant love for His people, so He gave us a concrete, physical sign to represent and to reassure us of His substitutionary death on the cross. He instituted the Lord’s Supper at the Passover meal, the sacramental meal of the Old Covenant. The cross, you see, was a greater exodus, a greater deliverance. Moses delivered from slavery to Pharaoh; Jesus delivered from slavery to sin and Satan. And He did it by offering Himself as the Passover Lamb, the firstborn Son dying in the place of His people. Every time we share in this fellowship meal, we recall what He has done for us in taking to Himself a human nature so that He might live and die and rise again for us and for our salvation. Remember Christ, who died to forgive your sins, who suffered that you might be reconciled to God, who drank the cup of God’s wrath that you might drink the cup of God’s blessing.

Second, we look within. Paul tells us that “a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (I Corinthians 11:28). Look for sin to confess, for knowledge of Christ and of what the Lord’s Supper is all about, for faith to feed upon him, for repentance, love, and new obedience (Westminster Shorter Catechism #97). This table is not for perfect people, but for repenting sinners, “those who are displeased with themselves for their sins, yet trust that these are forgiven them, and that their remaining infirmity is covered by the suffering and death of Christ; who also desire more and more to strengthen their faith and to amend their life” (Heidelberg Catechism #81). We must not eat the Lord’s Supper in a flippant way, but seriously; acknowledging our sin, trusting in Jesus for forgiveness and acceptance, turning from our sin in new obedience. This meal is a way to renew your covenant with the Lord as He reassures you of His love for you.

Third, we look up. Jesus is no longer dead, He is alive, and He is seated at the right hand of God. He is the living Host of this meal. As we eat and drink, we not only remember, but we commune with Him by faith, fellowshipping with our Groom, as we feed upon His body and blood in a spiritual manner, applying unto ourselves Christ crucified and all the benefits of His death.

But our communion is not only with Jesus. We also commune with one another. And so we must look, fourthly, around. In I Corinthians 11:29, Paul calls us to “judge” (or “discern, recognize”) the body; that is, we must realize that we are have union and communion with one another, that each member is important (even the poor, cf. I Corinthians 11:20-22), and that we are called to love and serve and forgive one another, even as God in Christ has loved, served, and forgiven us. “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread” (I Corinthians 10:17; cf. 12:12ff). As we eat this meal with one another, we reaffirm our commitment to the body of Christ, the church.

Finally, we look forward. We proclaim the Lord’s death “until He comes.” And so we look ahead to the marriage supper of the Lamb, to which the Lord’s Supper points. One day all God’s people will be gathered together to feast with our Savior. Christ will return and all things will fully and finally be made new. We eat in hope, no matter what our circumstances are as we come to the table. Jesus reigns, and we His subjects rejoice that by grace we have a seat at the King’s table!

 

[1] I want to thank Dr. Neil Stewart, pastor of Kirk O’ the Isles Presbyterian Church in Savannah, GA, for first sharing these “five looks” with me.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Is your current view of the Supper a Reformed, real spiritual presence or do you hold to something different or hybrid of that?

    Reply

  2. Posted by calebcangelosi on June 23, 2014 at 11:04 am

    I hold to the Westminster Confession’s view that Christ is really, yet spiritually present to the faith of believers in the Lord’s Supper. He’s as really, but spiritually, present to our faith as the bread and the wine are to our outward senses (WCF 29.7). I’m curious, did something I write make you think I held a different view?

    Reply

    • Nope. Just curious is all. Have you read the four views book on the Lord’s Supper? It was that book that convinced me, as someone who grew up with more of a memorial/Zwingly view, that the WCF/Reformed view was correct. Thanks for posting.

      Reply

      • Posted by calebcangelosi on June 23, 2014 at 3:22 pm

        I have not read that book, but I’d like to. Thanks for the recommendation.

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