What does it mean when we partake of the Lord's Supper? To most, I believe it is only a visible reminder that Jesus Christ suffered and died for sin. While not incorrect, and certainly not the least thing that happens at the Lord's Table, this is not the sum total of the remembrance of Jesus Christ during the Eucharist. There are other implications to be considered beyond the sacrificial death of our Lord, namely, what led up to this sacrifice and what that sacrifice means to us beyond our personal sins being atoned for.
I will begin with a simple reminder of what it means to remember someone. At the institution of the Lord's Supper, Jesus said, "Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19). Meditate on that for a moment. Christ our Lord commanded us to remember Him during the Lord's Supper. Do you think that He meant only that we ought to remember how He died for us, or should we also call to remembrance how He lived for us as well?
Think of it this way, does the cross of Jesus Christ mean anything detached from His life leading up to calvary? If we do not know His background, His teachings, His examples, and even His miracles, Jesus of Nazareth becomes another person executed for sedition against Rome. To an ignorant passerby, Jesus would have appeared no more significant on the cross than the two thieves. It is the person and life of Jesus Christ that makes the crucifixion so outrageous and horrifying.
If you know that Jesus died because of His absolute devotion to goodness, to wicked persons, to truth, and ulitmately for His love of the Father, then you know why it is a horror for Him to die on the cross. If you further know that He groans there for your sake, then the grief is personal. That He died for you has extreme personal implications in how you ought to live, and to learn how to live you must remember how He lived and what He taught.
For example, do you remember during the Lord's Supper that Jesus taught His disciples to love as He loved? Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you , that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34). The implications of this are staggering. As you chew the flesh of Christ, remember that His love for you put Him on the cross. If you are commanded to have a similar love for me, or the person in the pew next to you, or your fellow Sunday school member, then you must realize that by partaking you are committing yourself to die for your neighbor. You are committing yourself to give up all your worldly possessions and claims in order to benefit the body of Jesus Christ. If that makes the Supper tough to swallow, then you are beginning to be a real disciple.
Without the generous gift of God's Holy Spirit, such a life would be impossible. This Sunday, as I lifted the cup of Christ's blood to drink it, I had in mind the 100+ beloved children of God that the Father has entrusted to my care. The question entered my mind, "Would you lay down your life for these sheep?" The answer: By God's grace. The next question is harder, "Are you laying down your life for these sheep?" The answer: God knows.
These are only a few things that the suffering and teaching of our Lord should bring to mind as we partake of the Lord's Supper. I have only skimmed the surface in hopes that this will get your mind moving in the right direction this Monday morning. Live the gospel today, and make good your confession of faith. Lay down your life for your brothers and sisters today, for the sake of the gospel, and for the sake of those rebels who by God's grace will see the light through your testimony. Live the life by dying today to self. Do this in remembrance of Him.
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