I knew a man who was once quite emotional about the Lord’s Supper. Apparently, when the topic was introduced over dinner, he began crying as he stated, “I just love the Lord’s Supper.” Paul also gets emotional as he corrects the Corinthians about the practice of the Lord’s Supper. As he speaks to them, he points out that in their practice, they actually were NOT eating the Lord’s Supper.
When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. (1 Corinthians 11:20)
By telling the Corinthians that they were not eating the Lord’s supper, he was saying that what they were doing was wrong and because of their practice some had gotten sick among them and even died. The problem of the Corinthians was that they came together to celebrate a feast, to have a supper, but they thought it was their supper and that they could do whatever they wanted at the supper. The eating and feasting got so out of hand that God had to judge them.
Because of the specific problems the Corinthian church had, we no longer have those problems when observing the Lord’s Supper. When we come together, it is to eat the Lord’s Supper. I believe, though, that we must beware of the same danger the Corinthians gave in to. They thought it was their supper. It is the Lord’s Supper. We do not own it. He is the Host. He is the one that sets the table and feeds us there. And he does feed us at His supper.
We should recognize that in that title there are two words. ‘Lord’ and ‘Supper.’ Here we have spiritual and physical. Many that claim Christ’s name try to make the supper completely spiritual. They will even go so far as to say that the elements of the supper undergo some fantastic or magical transformation into the actual body and blood of our Savior. That’s too spiritual. Others, in reaction, claim nothing spiritual is taking place at all. The supper is purely physical and only a memorial.
Both of these are Gnostic problems. But we are not Gnostics. The Gnostic separates the physical from the spiritual. The Bible believer sees both present all the time. To the Christian, there is no difference between the secular and the sacred. All ground is holy ground. We don’t pick ‘A’ or ‘B.’ We see ‘A’ and ‘B.’ How does all this relate to the Lord’s Supper? If God commanded us to observe His supper in remembrance of Him, there must be some spiritual benefit to obeying Him, if only just the act of obedience. As we discuss the other titles of His supper, we’ll see other spiritual benefits to this Christian ordinance. Is His supper a way of receiving grace? Yes. Saving grace? No. Nonetheless, Christians also need grace. We are to grow in grace, be strong in grace, and more. One of the ways a Christian does that is by partaking in the Lord’s Supper. It’s not just the lost that need grace.
The Lord’s Supper is His supper celebrated with thanksgiving in communion with other believers because of our fellowship in Christ. We show loyalty to the Lord’s Table as we remember His broken body and shed blood, which washes away our sin.