Meditations for the Lord’s Supper
As I wrote last week, nothing else you do in a week comes close to being equally important with eating the bread and drinking the cup. While we’re eating the bread and then drinking the wine, the church becomes quiet. In that quiet, where are your thoughts—are you thinking about lunch or how bored you are or the beautiful weather?
One’s thoughts in worship play an integral part in how pleasing God finds the assembly. Jesus told the woman at the well, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:24). God expects those who worship him to do so in truth—i.e., according to his standards; just ask Nadab and Abihu how much the Lord cares about following standards in worship. Since God is a spirit (a non-material Being), man must worship God with his non-material being, with his spirit; in other words, what takes place on the inside is vital to worship. Regarding the Lord’s Supper, then, worship in spirit and truth would mean taking the Supper according to New Testament teaching and having the right thoughts.
What are some appropriate thoughts for gathering around the table with our Lord?
- You can remember Jesus’s crucifixion.
The bread represents his body, and the wine represents his blood (e.g., Matt 26:26-28); the Supper is to be done in remembrance of Jesus (1 Cor 11:24-25).
- You can remember Jesus’s resurrection. The Lord’s Supper not only points back to the Savior’s crucifixion, but the emblems also remind us that Jesus walked from the tomb on the third day. Our Lord rose to life on the first day of the week (e.g., Matt 28:1ff), the same day of the week his people gather around his table (cf. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 11:17-18 with 1 Cor 16:1-2).
- You can remember the church’s unity. The Corinthians were to wait for one another when they took the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:33), for the bread and wine form a family feast. (When Paul wrote that the one “who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Cor 11:29), the body in context is likely the church).
- You can remember to examine yourself. “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor 11:28). In the context of 1 Corinthians 11, Paul urged the Corinthian disciples to examine how they treated their fellow Christians—whether they were sharing the Supper with their brothers or whether they were contributing to the circus-like atmosphere of the Eucharist in Corinth. While that’s the context of Paul’s words, it’s always right to examine sin which may be in our lives (cf. 2 Cor 13:5), and the Supper—the supreme reminder of our sinfulness—provides the perfect opportunity.
- You can remember that Jesus is coming again. As you eat the bread and drink the cup, “you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor 11:26). The Supper anticipates the heavenly banquet prepared for God’s people (cf. Matt 8:11), and communion is a marvelous reminder that “the best is yet to come.”
As you commune with the Lord and his family, let these biblical truths feel your heart that you may make the most of the most important time of your week.
I wouldn’t dare be presumptuous enough to think this is anywhere near an exhaustive list of appropriate meditations for your heart at the Lord’s table. What other meditations would you add?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.