The Crown Jewel

The Lord’s Supper is the crown jewel of worship. It should be the central act of our Christian worship. In his foreword to the book The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ Until He Comes, Christian educator David S. Dockery wrote,  

The highest form of corporate Christian worship is the Lord’s Supper. The celebration of the Supper directs our attention backward to the work of Christ on the cross and also encourages a forward look to the Second Coming of Christ. In addition, it provides a time for believers to examine their own personal relationship with God as well as their relationship with other believers while experiencing communion with the exalted Christ. The observance is so simple a child can partake with a sense of understanding, yet it contains so many theological ramifications that even the most mature believer will not fully comprehend its meaning. 

Please consider four vital truths from the inspired writings of Paul in regard to Communion. It is the crown jewel of worship because . . .  

It Is a Sacred Memorial  

On May 29, 2004, the National World War II Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. Located on the National Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, it is dedicated to the 16 million Americans who served in the armed forces during the war, especially the 400,000 troops who died during the conflict. The Freedom Wall is covered with 4,048 gold stars, each star representing 100 Americans who made the supreme sacrifice. Memorials are hallowed, not meant to be hollow. We stand at attention when the flag passes by. We should be on our best behavior when the bread and cup are passed. Communion is our Freedom Wall. It is decorated with one gold star—representing the One who paid the supreme sacrifice for our sins. 

Paul wrote, 

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25).  

Please notice that Christ himself passed along this teaching to the apostle Paul. The words “do this in remembrance of me” are Jesus’ own words, spoken at the Last Supper (Luke 22:19). Augustine called the Lord’s Supper the verbum visible—the visible word at the action of the Lord’s Table. The visible Word of God (the bread and the cup) belong with the audible Word of God (Jesus’ words of institution).  

Jesus said, “Do this.” What are we saying when we don’t “do this”? Is he the Lord of our lives or not? Jesus wants us to remember him, his great love, his tremendous sacrifice. What do we imply if we don’t remember him . . . if our minds are a million miles away? On Memorial Day, far too many Americans never take time to remember those who died to keep our country free. On Sunday, the Christian’s Memorial Day, far too few of us think of the One who died to set us free from sin, death, and Hell. 

It Is an Actual Participation in the Body and Blood of Christ  

The apostle Paul asked, 

Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf (1 Corinthians 10:16-17, my emphasis).  

Other translations use words like communion or sharing or fellowship. I like TheMessage’s rendering of 1 Corinthians 10:16-18, for it makes clear what is going on in Communion: 

When we drink the cup of blessing, aren’t we taking into ourselves the blood, the very life, of Christ? And isn’t it the same with the loaf of bread we break and eat? Don’t we take into ourselves the body, the very life, of Christ? Because there is one loaf, our many-ness becomes one-ness—Christ doesn’t become fragmented in us. Rather, we become unified in him. We don’t reduce Christ to what we are; he raises us to what he is. That’s basically what happened even in old Israel—those who ate the sacrifices offered on God’s altar entered into God’s action at the altar. 

In an illustration about the Lord’s Supper on Preaching.com, Christian minister and educator Mike Shannon says, 

Imagine if you stood before the Washington Monument and suddenly the father of our country was at your side. Imagine if you stood inside the Lincoln Memorial and suddenly you heard a deep voice intoning, “Four score and seven years ago.” When we come around the Lord’s Table, we come to a memorial of the dying Christ and find ourselves suddenly confronted with the living Christ. It is His Table and He is there. 

Jesus is always with us. He said he would never leave us. But have we left him alone at his Table during Communion when we are thinking of everything in the world except him? 

It Is a Powerful Proclamation—the World’s Greatest Sermon!  

“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death” (1 Corinthians 11:26).  

Bible commentator Matthew Henry called the Lord’s Supper “a sermon to the eye.” Even when the sermon is bad, the Supper proclaims a good message—a great message!—that Christ died for our sins. Many are unaware that taking Communion is a form of preaching.  

“The Lord’s Supper has been greatly instrumental in keeping his cause alive,” 19th-century minister Charles F. Deems said. “It is the voice of all believers preaching the Lord’s death until he comes again. He who believes that the Lord did come and die for us, and will come again and take us to himself, will not hesitate to regard this last request of our Lord and Savior.”  

We are telling the old, old story of Jesus and his love. That’s why baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the two divine ordinances in the church. In baptism we are buried with Christ into his death.  

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Romans 6:3-4). 

Every time we partake of Communion, we are proclaiming [preaching] that Christ died for our sins! “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death. . . .” Other translations say that you are broadcasting or telling or retelling or announcing the good news that Christ died for our sins. 

It is beyond me why more churches don’t realize the Lord’s Supper is one of the greatest evangelistic tools they possess. Jewish children asked their parents, “What does this Passover mean?” Our children, before they gave their lives to Christ, asked my wife, Evelyn, “What does this Communion mean?” It was a great teaching opportunity.  

If Communion is not a part of our weekly church service, we are omitting “the sermon to the eye.” We are taking away “the voice of all believers.” We are shutting down the main “broadcasting” business of the church—broadcasting the good news that Christ died for our sins! Churches that relegate Communion to a side room are sidetracking the gospel. 

It Contains an Exciting Prediction of a Truly Epic ‘Coming Event’  

“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26, emphasis added).  

Yes, the Lord’s Supper reminds us we are sinners saved by grace, and that Christ died for our sins, but it also reminds us that “this same Jesus” (Acts 1:11) is coming again! The Living Bible says, “For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup you are retelling the message of the Lord’s death, that he has died for you. Do this until he comes again” (1 Corinthians 11:26).  

My friends, there is an “expiration date” on this meal. Jesus is coming again, but we do not think of his coming nearly as often as we should. That’s why Communion is the crown jewel of worship. It reminds us Jesus is coming again. I tried to get one church to put the words “Until He Comes” on a new Communion table, but the idea did not take. Perhaps the leaders resisted because the Lord’s return was not in their consciousness as it should be.  

Sermons on the Second Coming are forbidden in China, but in America they are pretty much forgotten. I mean, when was the last time you heard a sermon on the return of Christ? The New Testament includes more than 300 warnings about the Second Coming. The weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper is a huge reminder that the same Jesus who instituted the Lord’s Supper is coming again to take us to that stupendous “Supper in the sky”—the greatest feast of all—the wedding feast of the Lamb! But according to Revelation 19:9, it will be an “invitation only” event. If we’re not accepting his Supper invitation now, do we think we will be invited then? Christ invites us now to meet with him at his Table and to sup with him at his Supper.  

Every Lord’s Supper could be our Last Supper! We must ask ourselves, am I ready for his return?  

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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