Summary: A Lord’s Supper Devotional to be used before communion.
INTRO: The immediate setting for the first observance of the Lord=s Supper was the Jewish Passover. This was an annual feast of remembrance. Its purpose was to com¬memorate the passing over by the death angel of Jewish families in Egypt, prior to the Exodus. The meal was a celebration of God=s deliverance from slavery and the formation of the Jewish nation.
The Passover was a real meal which was celebrated corporately and not privately. There had to be at least ten persons present at the observance. The ingredients of the meal were set and each had a highly symbolic significance. There was unleavened bread. Because the Hebrews had to leave Egypt in haste, there was not time to wait for the bread to be leavened. There was a bowl of salt water to remind the Israelites of the tears their ancestors shed while in slavery, and as a symbol of their miraculous crossing of the Red Sea.
On the table were bitter herbs, such as horseradish, to remind them of the bitterness of bondage in Egypt. A paste of apples and nuts was served, along with cinnamon sticks. The paste was symbolic of the clay from which their forebears had made brick, and the cinnamon sticks represented the straw used in making the bricks. Cups of wine reminded the worshipers of the joy of deliverance.
On Thursday of Passion Week, Jesus and his twelve disciples ate the Passover meal together in the upper room in Jerusalem. Things were about to happen. There was impending disaster. There was strife over the personal ambitions of the disciples. Betrayal was about to take place. Jesus also foretold the disloyalty and denial of Simon Peter that night.
There were fearful dangers from the outside. Jesus’ enemies were determined to see him dead. The scribes and Pharisees viewed him as a lawbreaker whose popularity threatened established religion. The Sadducees and Herodian party saw him as a rebel who was about to incur the wrath of Rome on the country.
The priests felt that Jesus was not sympathetic to the Jewish sacrificial system from which they gained their livelihood. He represented a serious threat to his enemies, and they were determined to eliminate him. Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his cleansing of the Temple of its money changers and merchants sealed his doom.
It was at the Passover observance on that Thursday evening that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper. He used two of the items on the table, bread and wine, to initiate the Christian memorial meal. What does the Lord’s Supper mean to us as Christians?
I. THE SUPPER AS A REVELATION.
It awakens us, calls us out of our complacency, and reminds us of the costli¬ness of our salvation. We easily forget. Our mind is like a writing slate, easily erased. We become preoccupied. The periodic observance of the Lord=s Supper brings us back to center, forces us to focus on the heart of our faith. These elements, loaf and cup, vividly portray Jesus’ sacrifice for us. We recall the cries of the crowd, the drip of water in Pilate’s basin, the crack of the whip, and the thud of the hammer. We remember the flickering torches, Judas’ kiss, and the towering cross with its Suffering Servant.
The Supper forces us to look back and remember what God in Christ has borne that we might be saved. Someone once asked a master musician, "What’s the good word for today?" He struck a tuning fork and replied, "That’s ’A!’ It was ’A’ yesterday and will be ’A’ tomorrow. It will still be ’A’ one thousand years from now. The soprano may be off key, the tenor flat on the high notes, and the piano out of tune, but that is A." The Lord’s Supper is God’s "A", to remind us of what is most important. It brings our faith into focus.
II. THE SUPPER IS A REALIZATION.
Christ is not a dead hero to whom we build a monument. He is not an em¬balmed leader. A communist once taunted a Christian saying, "We have Lenin’s body on display in his tomb. All you Christians have is an empty tomb!" Precisely! Jesus is not dead but alive! We serve a living Lord who was not only back there, but is here as well. You see, we still meet him and have fellowship with him. The human divine encounter still occurs. J. B. Phillips calls the Lord’s Supper "An appointment with God." He confronts us here at his table, in the midst of our work and our worship. Just as we accept his salvation, so we appropriate his presence, in our observance.
The risen Christ is here. See his revelation Eat these elements in remem¬brance of him. Realize his presence.
Come, let us worship in the glad fellowship of the table.