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The Lord’s Supper

One of my favorite worship services is the observance of the Lord’s Supper.  I grew up in a little country church that tacked (or so it seemed) the Lord’s Supper on to the end of the sermon.

I let the Lord’s Supper be the center of that special worship service.  We sing hymns, lots of them, and “special” music about the cross of Jesus.  The thing I want to communicate is Jesus Christ and Him crucified for our sins.  “We preach Christ crucified.”  "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2).  I read Scriptures about Christ’s death and substitutionary atoning sacrifice between the hymns and specials.  Before the bread and the cup are served, I take time to explain the message of the broken body and the shed blood of the new covenant.  The main thing I try to communicate is God’s plan of salvation and His saving grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  I do not want anyone to leave that service without clearly knowing that “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.”  Everywhere I have pastored my congregations have said, “Don’t change that service because God visits us.”

The observance of the Lord’s Supper is filled with great Biblical doctrine.  Matthew writes, “While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins’” (Matthew 26:26-28).

No, the substance of the bread is not literally changed into the substance of the body of Jesus Christ.  We do not literally handle the body of Jesus.  On the other hand, neither is the unchanged substance of the bread united with the substance of Christ’s body.  The bread is unchanged, and that was obvious to the disciples who saw Jesus break the bread.

The apostle Paul taught the believers in the church at Corinth,  “This do in remembrance of Me” (I Corinthians 11:24).  The broken bread symbolizes the broken body of Jesus.  There is no reason to take the words, “this is my body,” as a literal statement.  The bread represents the sinless body of Jesus broken on our behalf.  The cup of wine is a symbol of His blood “shed on behalf of many for forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28).

The apostle Paul tells us when Jesus 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” (1 Corinthians 11:24-25). 

The bread represents the body of Jesus, and the cup of wine represents His shed blood.  However, note carefully the bread remains bread, and the wine remains wine.

The bread teaches us the great doctrine of the incarnation of the Son of God.  Jesus took on Himself a true human body (John 1:14, 18).  "Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (1 Peter 4:1).

The apostle Paul brings out the great truth of the vicarious substitutionary atonement in the death of Jesus in I Peter 3:18, "For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit" (1 Peter 3:18).

It was in His incarnate body that Christ suffered for you and me.  "Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed" (1 Peter 2:22-24).

“This is My Body” that was given as “a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). 

Jesus Christ died in our place as our substitute (Rom. 5:6,8; 2 Cor. 5:21).  He took our guilt upon Himself and bore the punishment of our sins (Isa. 53:4-5).

His body was broken so that His blood was “shed on behalf of many for forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28).  “This is the new covenant in My blood” (I Cor. 11:25).

The death of Jesus was the fulfillment and the end of all the bloody sacrifices and offerings in the old covenant.  Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the end of the sacrifices.  There is no more need for sacrifices because He died for our sin.  The new covenant is sealed and maintained by that one perfect sacrifice of the perfect, sinless Lamb of God (Jeremiah 31:31-34). 

All of our sins are under His shed blood.  We are forgiven of every sin (I John 1:6-9).  If His blood does not cover all our sins, we have no hope, and we are eternally lost.  Jesus’ blood made actual atonement for all who believe on Him.  His blood turned away the wrath of God from all sinners who call upon His name and are saved.

“This is My body, which is broken for you… This cup is the new covenant in My blood, do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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