Thanksgiving dinners, wedding receptions. Our culture observes special meals whose menus and occasions are significant of more than a common meal. So too in the culture of Christ’s kingdom, there is a significant meal. That meal is called The Lord’s Supper. Our Lord commands us to Do this in remembrance of Me (Lk 22:19). At the Table there is a “doing.” We are not passive but active when we do this. Who are the actors at the Table? What action transpires? What happens as a result of the actions transpiring at the Table? Consider with me What happens at the Lord’s Table?
The first Actor to consider is the Lord, Jesus Christ. It is, after all, the Lord’s Table. Jesus hosts us having instituted and authorized this sacramental meal and, through the ministry of His Spirit, Jesus is present to nourish His Body, the Church. Jesus instituted the Supper in conjunction with the Old Covenant Passover. The Passover made the historical deliverance from Egypt contemporary to those who ate it. The menu and the time of its observance served to make the Exodus contemporary to those who ate it. By eating the Passover, later generations were covenantally identified with the Exodus as though they actually experienced that historical redemption. The historical deliverance from Egypt thus became the defining saving reality of every Israelite who ate the Passover and “remembered.” The Lord’s Supper acts in the same way for us in the in the New Covenant. As we eat the Lord’s Supper, we identify with the redemptive event of the New Covenant and are defined by Jesus in union with Him in His death and resurrection. The time of the Lord’s Supper is on the Lord’s Day, the day of resurrection victory. The menu is simple: bread and wine as representative of Jesus’ body and blood. What Jesus accomplished by His broken body and shed blood is the determinative action yet operative in this covenantal meal. The action taken by Jesus for us includes His righteous life, His atoning death as our Passover (1 Cor 5:7), His triumphant resurrection and exaltation as the Lamb, and the anticipation of His glorious return (1 Cor 11:26). His obedient life constitutes the substance of our righteousness. His obedient death propitiates God’s wrath and is the basis for the forgiveness of our sins. His triumphant resurrection and exaltation is the focus of our faith and hope. Jesus actively accomplished our redemption bodily, in history, for all time and eternity. When we eat His Supper, we are covenantally defined in Christ [who] loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma (Eph 5:2). What happens at the Table is determined by what happened on the cross of Jesus. Christ’s love for you was demonstrated at the cross and as you sit at His Table, that love is still active; Jesus is given for you. The definitive action transpiring at the Table is Christ’s dynamic life-giving love for you. What is happening at the Table is you are being loved by Jesus with the love He had for you when He offered Himself in your place as the full and final atoning sacrifice for your sin to propitiate God’s wrath against you. What is happening at the Table is you are being nourished by Jesus with the vitality of His triumphant resurrection and sustained with the living hope of His glorious return. At the Table you ingest Jesus’ gospel love. Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? (Rom 8:34b,35a)
The second Actor to consider is the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us that He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you (Jn 16:14). It is by the person and ministry of the Spirit that Jesus is present with us and in us at the Table. It is the Spirit who communicates the blessings of Jesus’ cross and throne to you. As we believingly eat our covenant meal, the Spirit effects a spiritual connection to the historical work of Jesus’ cross and resurrection. He takes the things of Christ and discloses, communicates them effectually to the believer. He spiritually bridges the distance of time between us and the historical work of Christ making that redemptive event current in our experience and definitive of our identity so that, by the Spirit, we are so joined to Jesus as to have died in Him and risen in Him and are seated in the heavenly places with Him. He spiritually bridges the distance of space between us and our exalted Lamb. Even now, as the enthroned Lord, Jesus is a Lamb standing as if slain (Rev 5:6). He is standing in resurrection victory over death, yet depicted as the slain Lamb, our sacrificial Lamb. Worshipers through the course of redemptive history know what to do with a sacrificial lamb. You eat it in the presence of God as an act of worship! At the Table the Spirit brings us to our glorified Lamb to eat and drink in His presence in worship, and brings the Lamb to us to be ingested by faith so that we might be nourished in His grace and love. As we eat in faith, the Spirit works also within us to make the Supper a means of grace, nourishing and strengthening us in Christ. The indwelling work of Christ by His Spirit is depicted as we ingest the bread and the wine. As digested food becomes integral to our physical being, so too as we believingly partake of the Supper, Christ, by His Spirit, becomes integral to our spiritual being. Our union with Christ is fortified and nourished. The Spirit works to enable us to experience oneness with Jesus. Jesus, then by His Spirit, actively ministers Himself to us, confirming faith, comforting grief, exhorting to holiness, disciplining us in wisdom and love. At the Supper, the Spirit enables us to experience Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col 1:27) and as we communion with the glorified Lamb, the Spirit enables us to become more like Him, to persevere and to overcome.Alan Dunn, Pastor Grace Covenant Baptist Church Flemington, NJ