Our Lord makes the promise that the one who eats of the bread and drinks of the cup eats and drinks the flesh and blood of Christ. How can Christ say such a thing? We we really want to slaughter our Lord, cannibalize his body, and celebrate such a wicked act? However, when Christ speaks this sounds exactly like what Christ is inviting us to do. So, what do we do with this strong language? How can such language be encouraging?
Our Lord gathers together with his disciples to celebrate passover. It is during this passover feast that Christ and the disciples have the first communion or Lord’s Supper. It would seem that if the Lord’s Supper is instituted at passover that the Lord’s Supper and passover would be the same thing. However, reformed people have not seen them being the exact same thing. How can we make a distinction between the Lord’s Supper and the Passover? What has Christ stated that helps us understand this disinction?
Paul lays out the declaration for the Lord’s people to judge themselves prior to coming to the Lord’s Supper. What does this judgment look like? Paul warns the Corinthian church that some people have actually died because they failed to judge themselves. How do we know if we have judged ourselves appropriately?
Paul, the apostle, gives a very stern warning to the church communicating a warning to Corinth that some people have died in the congregation because they have not appropriately approached the sacrament. This is a passage that can make someone approach the supper with great caution. In fact, someone might not want to come to the supper at all considering that there are people who have died in the past. Why would we come to the Lord’s table when there is such a stern and fixed warning in Scripture?
The Lord’s people have been enslaved for 400 years and doubt whether or not the Lord is really with them. The Lord promises that his people will not remain in slavey. So, what how is the Lord going to deliver His people from this time of slavery? What is Israel going to do in light of this deliverance that the Lord promises? How does this deliverance pave the way for the Lord’s Supper?
Moses lays out the expectations for the sacrificial system with Israel. Moses communicates essential points of this sacrificial system from Leviticus 7. This chapter teaches us that there are feasts anyone can eat, other feasts only the priests, and then there are offerings that are not eaten at all by the priests. Why does the Lord have some meals with his people? Why does the Lord have some meals with the priests? What does any of this have to do with the Lord’s Supper?
The Apostle Paul gives some strong words regarding the call for members in the church to examine themselves. It is rather frightening to hear Paul talk about people actually dying in the midst of the congregation. Why would we as sinners desire to partake of such a meal? Who is worthy to eat at the Lord’s table? Who can claim a worthiness to be a partaker of this food? So, how can one come to the Lord’s Supper without knowing that one is not going to be struck dead? What does Paul mean when he exhorts us to examine ourselves?
We might be tempted to think that there is not a whole lot we can learn from Israel or the history of Israel. They are a people who lived under the Old Covenant and they were people who did bad things while we are the people who are going to do good things because we are more informed right? The apostle Paul wants the church to learn things from Israel’s history. How does Paul use their history to show that we can fall into similar things? What does the history of Israel have to do with us, our sacraments, and even the Lord’s Supper?
We follow the structure of the Heidelberg Catechism which progresses as the preaching of the gospel, then baptism, and now the Lord’s Supper. We have argued from the previous Lord’s Day that infants are baptized because they are part of the covenant of grace so the sign of circumcision and baptism have a correlation to one another pointing to the same covenant of grace. If this is true, then we do we not allow infants to come to the Lord’s table if Christ is celebrating the passover? Or is the passover merely the opportunity to lay out the Lord’s Supper? So, what is the Lord’s Supper?
When we look at the Lord’s Supper we might think that this is something that is empty or something that we do on Sunday. Our concern is that this is something that could just be a mere sentimental memory of Christ rather than communing with Christ. How do we know that this supper is more than that? How do we see that this supper challenges us to live in an exclusive relationship with the Lord?