As we stated last week, Jesus implemented two ordinances for His Church, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. If a Church does not participate in these ordinances there appears to be a fundamental and dangerous flaw in how they read and how they obey the teachings of Jesus as found in Scripture.
Jesus introduced the Lord’s Supper as an ordinance to His disciples on the final night before His arrest which led to His crucifixion. (see Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-25; and Luke 22:18-20). One person who was not present during the last supper was the Apostle Paul. Paul, at that time, was not a follower of Christ. However, as we see in our text above, 1 Corinthian 11:23-26, after Paul was called by Jesus to follow Him, Paul tells us that he also received the command to participate in the Lord’s supper from Jesus. Paul then states that what he received he delivered to the local Church at Corinth. Therefore there is an expectation that the local Church is to participate in the Lord’s Supper because Jesus delivered it to the Apostles, to deliver it to the local Church. Once again, to be a disciple of Jesus means to obey all that Jesus commands. If your Church does not obey this clear command of Christ, then your Church has a problem that needs to be addressed.
This leads to the question of why. Why does Jesus command His followers to continuously participate in such a ceremony? Verse 25 of our text says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” The word “for” directs us to the answer, “you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
When a local body of Christ eats the bread and drinks the cup, they are declaring something. What are they declaring? The death of Jesus, the Son of God. The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is to remind everyone who is present of the historical event of Jesus laying down his life for his Bride. In addition to the presence of the bread and the cup is the expectation to eat and drink. The truth that Christ was crucified must be internalized. It must be taken in by the saints.
In John 6, Jesus unpacks this internalization. In verse 28 the crowd says to Jesus, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
After stating the foundational truth of faith alone in Christ alone, Jesus then gives them a picture of this by using the story of God providing the manna in the wilderness to Israel after their exodus from Egypt. Jesus then says in verse 35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
The back and forth with the crowd continues and Jesus says in verse 53, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”
So what does it mean to eat the bread and drink the cup? What does it mean to internalize the death of Christ during the Lord’s Supper? It means that the Lord ’s Supper is the proclamation of your faith in the crucifixion of Jesus as a sufficient payment for your sins and therefore eternal life with a Holy God. Faith alone. Grace alone. Christ Alone.
The Lord’s Supper is a continuous reminder of the greatest event in all of history and the greatest event in the lives of the redeemed.