On The Lord’s Supper

The following are my notes in preparation to presenting the Lord’s Supper:

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THE LORD’S SUPPER

“If baptism is the bath for the beginning of this journey, the Supper is the table that God spreads in the wilderness along the way.”  –  Mike Horton

“For those who receive the reality –namely, Christ and all of his benefits – the sacraments signify and seal the passing from death to life, judgment to justification, bondage to liberty.” – Mike Horton

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Throughout time, the world has considered many questions to be the most important questions human beings must meditate on, and even give their lives for.  From how can human beings reach godhood to how can we eliminate evil from the world by human effort to what is the secret to perpetual youth, the world has ran in circles with a blindfold asking itself questions it considers to be essential for life.

Others have asked themselves the question: How can God be just and not only let so many innocent people die in catastrophic events, but throw them into hell too?  From Hurricane Sandy, Utah flooding, Hurricane Isaac, Washington flooding, about 15 shootings in 2012 in the U.S. alone, almost one every month (including the horrifying but not surprising Sandy Hook elementary shooting), how can God remain silent and remain good?

This is a natural question all human beings have asked themselves at one point or another.  However, what is the question we ought to be asking in light of God’s Word (which shows us the nature of God and our own)?

Bildad, one of Job’s so-called “friend,” summarized it best,

“Dominion and awe belong to Him


Who establishes peace in His heights.

“Is there any number to His troops?

And upon whom does His light not rise?

“How then can a man be just with God?

Or how can he be clean who is born of woman?

“If even the moon has no brightness

And the stars are not pure in His sight,

How much less man, that maggot,

And the son of man, that worm!” – (Job 25:2-6, NASB)


In other words, the question we  ought to be asking ourselves is this: How can God be just and the justifier of sinners?


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How did it come to this?  Why are we in this plight where we need salvation?

The question implies there was a state different than the one we are in today (“this”).  Before Genesis 3, man had a perfect, blissful, and unhindered relationship with His maker.  He was unhindered from worshiping God and enjoying him in the fullness of His nature.  A covenant had been made with Adam, a conditional one in which covenant blessings were promised contingent upon obedience to God’s restriction of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  There were both covenant blessings and curses.  Man was given the authority and dominion over all things, but failed in 
1) fulfilling his duty “to work and to keep” both himself and his wife from finding their purpose and fulfillment in anything or anyone else but God, alone most worthy.  Adam was present when it happened and did or said nothing; 
2) thus committing “cosmic treason” against God Almighty.  

Many scoff at the events in the Genesis account of the first couple to walk with God on earth as unbelievable and one that mirrors the “narcissistic, megalomaniac” nature of God in demanding absolute and perfect worship of Himself by all creatures and threatening them with the heavenly thunderbolt whenever they transgress His unforgiving law even in the very least.

Many would compare God to Javert, the restless French police officer found in Victor Hugo’s beloved and famous work of literature, Les Miserables.  
Javert has no problem making Jean Valjean’s life a living hell in forced labor for over 19 years, regardless of his transgression having been stealing a morsel of bread when he was desperately hungry.  Even after releasing him with a yellow passport, which meant he was a marked man for life, always to be identified as a former convict on life parole, and who would be denied lodging and work for that very reason, his relentless eye would make sure Valjean never escaped his grasp.   The eye of the law was blinded toward the Thenardiers, who greatly abused and exploited little Cosette, the daughter of Fantine, a single mother who entrusted Cosette to the Thenardiers for her nurturing and protection while she tried to scrape a living after Cosette’s father abandoned them, and who was, unknown to her, deceived by the Thenardiers into thinking Cosette was well looked after.  
Javert averted the eye of the law from them, and others in society who greatly transgressed 19th century French law, and instead directed it mercilessly against Valjean and Fantine, to the point of pursuing Valjean for years after his release from forced labor.  

What many would do is compare Javert to God, God being a merciless dictator who is ready to severely punish the Valjeans, Fantines, and Cosettes of this world at the slightest transgression of divine law and yet, at the same time, willing to avert his gaze from the Thenardiers of this world; thus creating an illusory dichotomy between the “innocent” and the “guilty” according to divine law.


The problem with such an approach is manifold, the main one being that God is not somehow being a “narcissistic megalomaniac” in demanding absolute and perfect worship for Himself, nor in exacting perfect justice from all, whether it comes earlier or later for some.  Secondly, comparing God to Javert is problematic for two reasons:  Javert is a man, not God, a man spiritually dead in his sins and transgressions, which explains his intentional hypocrisy in the application of the law; and the latter being precisely the second reason:  French law cannot be compared to Divine law in any way, shape, or form.  Human laws will always be imperfect, unfair, and hypocritical.  Divine law can be summarized as follows,

“What then?  Are we better than they?  Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, 

There is none righteous, not even one;There is none who understands,There is none who seeks for God;All have turned aside, together they have become useless;There is none who does good,There is not even one.”“Their throat is an open grave,With their tongues they keep deceiving,” “The poison of asps is under their lips”;“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;“Their feet are swift to shed blood,Destruction and misery are in their paths, And the path of peace they have not known.”“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 

Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” (Rom. 3:9-20, NASB).


Divine law is “no respecter of persons,” it “shows no partiality.”  It places all, whether Jew or Gentile, whether Valjeans or Thenardiers, under the perfect, holy, righteous, law of God, which reflects His own nature.  After all, once you ask anyone whether rapists or child molesters should be given a second chance without any punishment, the unanimous answer thus far is an unequivocal and resounding “NO!”  If that is the case between us imperfect, corrupt, wicked and vile human beings, how much more between us and a perfect, holy, and righteous God who was gracious enough to let us live past conception and who gifts us every breath we are currently taking in our bodies?

God is the essence of good, light, and love.  And out of love for His perfect goodness, light, and love, he must be just and allow no lawbreaker to escape the respective consequences.  That is the illusory category created by the fallen mind.  The “innocent” who are judged by God in these catastrophes, both actively in His punishing sin and passively in his delivering men up to their sin, are not innocent.  They have broken God’s holy law, that law that many trust will save them in the Day of Judgment.  But Paul knows this is the self-righteous thinking of many who consider themselves “innocent,” and even we as Christians many times, and declares that the works of the Law of God, that is, the manifestation of its requirements, is evident to all, will only close every mouth; that is, no defense, no argument, no plea will move the ear of God on behalf of transgressors, but will rather make the whole world “accountable to God.”  Why?  “because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes” what, salvation?  Redemption?  Justification?  Salvation?  No, “the knowledge of sin.” 
Share this to your Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness friend.  Share this to yourself every time you think you can do anything to gain the favor or forgiveness of God in anything.


But we have come, after all, to the Lord’s Supper, have we not?  From Eden to the king of Salem and Abraham, to the Lord and his disciples, suppers have always been moments in which communion happen.  When relationships are restored (Jn 21), deepened, and fellowship, or those things which we share, are signified and sealed by the banquet we partake on.  
But if we had no knowledge of our condition, even as redeemed sons and daughters of God, we would partake of the Supper unworthily and thus eat judgment unto ourselves for not discerning the flesh and blood of the Lord, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11.

Jesus, the eternal Son of God, God in the flesh, came so that we might have life.  He came to restore that intimate relationship between God and man, broken by the sin of man, by bringing a “better covenant,” as Hebrews says, by the pouring of His blood for His elect people.

God, who has no need of anyone, who could perfectly have sent each and every one of us to eternal damnation, decreed, from eternity past, that He would redeem a people unto Himself “by the shedding of blood.”  This imagery of the shedding of blood was represented partially in the Old Covenant through the slaughtering of lambs.  On the night of the Passover, before His betrayal, Jesus instituted this most solemn ordinance for us to follow.

Remember how I said God is no respecter of persons, be they Jew or Gentile?  The Passover is the greatest proof of that.  We read in Exodus 12,

“Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household….Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.  You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it……  The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you  live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:3,5-13, NASB).


Notice the Lord did not say, “You don’t need to put blood on your doorposts, for you are Israelites, chosen of the Lord, and that is all there is to that.”  They were sinners just as the Egyptians.  They were not to be kept from this plague as they were from the others just because they were a chosen nation of the Lord.  Unless the blood was put on the two doorposts, the Lord would not spare that house, be it Jew or Egyptian.


And so we come now to the Lord Jesus Christ on the night He instituted the Supper, the night of the Passover in 1 Corinthians 11:22-30,

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which 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 He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.  Therefore 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.   But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.   For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.   For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.”


Christ didn’t say, “Take this and drink all of you, this is the cup of the Old Covenant.  Do this every time you gather to be forgiven of your sins and redeemed.”  Instead, He naturally and smoothly announced the Old Covenant was obsolete and the New Covenant of His eternal blood was to remain, and would serve to actually redeem many from their sins, not to temporarily wash them from their sins, but to actually cleanse them from their sins.  And most importantly, it doesn’t say, “Therefore whoever is unworthy among you and eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.”  If that was the case then no one would be able to partake of this Supper!  As it is, it is precisely for the unworthy, the vile, those who have discerned the holy, perfect sacrifice of Christ and themselves as the complete opposite, those who humble themselves, that God invites to this feast.  
It says “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord IN AN UNWORTHY MANNER…” that is, in a flippant or dishonoring way, as the Corinthians were doing in this passage, will eat and drink judgment to themselves.

There is also an eschatological element to the words of our Lord.  He said, “for as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”  That is, we proclaim the benefits of the Lord’s death, his atonement, that original righteousness he achieved on the cross through his perfection that was lost in the Garden of Eden by our representative Adam, we proclaim the saving Gospel of the Lord, our new federal head, the one who intercedes and represents us before the Father, until He returns in glory “to punish those who disobey the Gospel in flaming fire,” and “to be marveled by all,” and to take up His church unto Himself, “and so we will be with the Lord forever.”

It pleased the Lord to crush His son (Isaiah 53).  He was crushed for our iniquities and our offenses against God.  He delivered us from the power of sin and from the curse of the law, “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” (Galatians 3:10).


A new and living way has been opened to us by the Son of God by grace through faith.  Repent of your dead works and turn to the living God in Christ!  Come!  Come all you who are burdened and He will give you rest!

I know many here are hurting from the cares of life and the sinfulness of sin.   Horatius Bonar wrote a beautiful hymn I’d like to read to you today,

Here, O my Lord, I see you face to face; 

Here would I touch and handle things unseen, 

Here grasp with firmer hand eternal grace, 

And all my weariness upon you lean. 

Here would I feed upon the bread of God, 

Here drink with you the royal wine of heaven; 

Here would I lay aside each earthly load, 

Here taste afresh the calm of sin forgiven. 

This is the hour of banquet and of song;  

Here is the heavenly table spread anew; 

Here let me feast and, feasting, still prolong 

The brief bright hour of fellowship with you. 

I have no help but yours; nor do I need 

Another arm but yours to lean upon; 

It is enough, O Lord, enough indeed; 

My strength is in your might, your might alone. 

Mine is the sin but yours the righteousness; 

Mine is the guilt but yours the cleansing blood; 

Here is my robe, my refuge, and my peace; 

Your blood, your righteousness, O Lord, my God.

Too soon we rise; the vessels disappear;

The feast, though not the love, is past and gone. 

The bread and wine remove, but you are here, 

Nearer than ever, still my shield and sun. 

Feast after feast thus comes and passes by. 

Yet, passing, points to that glad feast above, 

Giving sweet foretaste of the festal joy, 

The Lamb’s great marriage feast of bliss and love.


Let me finish by reading one final thing to you.  Hebrews 10:1-25,

“For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.   Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?   But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

After saying above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have not desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second.  By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 

Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time,sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feetFor by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.   And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, 

This is the covenant that I will make with them After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart,And on their mind I will write them,”He then says,“And their sins and their lawless deedswill remember no more.” 

Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.   Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;  and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:1-25).


The Lord’s table does not only point us to eternity past, where the divine eternal decree was made for the Lamb to be slaughtered on our behalf, nor to the past in our world, where the Lord was actually crucified for us, nor to the present, where we enjoy the fullness of God’s revelation in His Son (Heb. 1:1), but also to the future, to our future hope: “all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

John says in 1 John 3:2-3,


Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”


Let us thus draw near to the throne of grace, boldly.  Let us thus hold fast to him who called us, for He is faithful.  Let us have our eyes fixed on His return, and thus be purified in His love.  Let us thus partake of the Table of the Lord.

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