I can still remember my first experiences with the Lord’s Supper. It seemed like such a mystical and magical event. The preacher distributed bread and juice, and everyone sat in deathly quietness. I wondered how I should act. I recall trying to conjure a spiritually somber mood. But it was hard. The weird wafer was stale and the sugar-free juice had an awkward tang. When I became more serious about my walk with the Lord, I gained a greater understanding of the observance’s significance. I discovered the truth of why we practice the event. Consider three reasons for celebrating the Lord’s Supper.
To Remember Christ
The Lord’s Supper is an occasion for reflecting on Calvary. The bread represents Christ’s body. Because our bodies are subject to death we needed the sacrifice of Christ’s body for salvation (Romans 8:11). The second element represents the blood of Christ. In God’s economy, blood has always been required for forgiveness of sin (Leviticus 17:11 and Hebrews 9:22). This precedent was set after Adam and Eve’s first transgression. Before exiling them from the Garden of Eden, the Lord sacrificed an animal to make clothes for them (Genesis 3:21). Since that time, blood has been a necessary ingredient in forgiveness. By itself, it contains no mystical or magical cleansing properties. It is the thing which sends life sustaining nutrients throughout the body, so it is a fitting symbol for forgiveness from the sin which brings death. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we remember the way in which Christ’s body and blood has brought salvation from sin and death. This is why Jesus said, “Do this…in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24 and 25).
To Proclaim Christ
When Christians gather for worship, someone usually opens a Bible and preaches. The Lord’s Supper works differently. When Christians gather for the observance, everyone preaches a sermon! Paul said, “As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). The word translated “proclaim” is used elsewhere in the New Testament to refer to the apostles’ public preaching (Acts 4:2). Did you know that you engage in a form of preaching each time you take of the Lord’s Supper? You proclaim your trust in Christ for salvation!
To Examine Your Walk
When Paul gave instruction, he said, “Let a person examine himself” (1 Corinthians 11:28). His words came on the heels of a warning against eating the bread or drinking of the cup in “an unworthy manner” (1 Corinthians 11:27). The early church had a problem with people getting drunk at the Lord’s Supper. Paul wanted them to know that the occasion was a holy one. Instead of flippantly blazing through a religious custom, believers were to take time to think about Christ and the gospel. They were to prayerfully consider their own walk with the Lord. With symbols in hand which stood as a stark reminder of Christ’s sacrifice, they were to examine whether or not they were walking worthy of the Lord. In His divine wisdom, God has given us a powerful object lesson we can use to test where we are in our walk with the Lord (Ephesians 4:1).
Dr. Patrick Latham