Soon as ever the young Christians had, at Pentecost, severed themselves from the ‘untoward nation’ of Israel, they identified themselves with the apostles in “doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers”; they were thus bound together in a fourfold way. The breaking of bread was in obedience to the express desire of the Lord Jesus, as instituted by Him in the upper room (where He had partaken with them of the Paschal supper) and formed a strong and tender link of fellowship between them, as well as a pledge of loyalty to their rejected and crucified, but risen and ascended, Lord. In those pristine days, faith and love were strong and power was great.
Devotedness continued, in spite of persecution unto death; but the pledge was maintained all along the page of history, until we read, in Acts 20, that, on a certain first day of the week, the disciples at Troas “came together to break bread”. It was therefore their custom so to do. Their assembly had this for its definite object. But, as on this occasion the Apostle Paul happened to be, for the moment, among them, he preached to them in great fullness, seeing that he was ready to “depart on the morrow”. The preaching, even that of an apostle, was not the object of their coming together; that was the breaking of bread. The other was accidental—this habitual and indispensable—at least in days of love and faithfulness to Christ. There can be no stronger motive or object, no claim more truly obligatory, in the assembling-together of the saints, than the breaking of bread. “Do this in remembrance of Me” was, and is, until He comes, the definite, explicit and most urgent desire of the Lord. Its neglect, whether by the individual or the mass, is a deplorable proof of disloyalty and indifference to His expressed will.
The neglect of it is one sin; the distortion of it, from a feast as simple as it is profound, into a saving and superstitious rite enshrouded by mystery and supposed power and virtue, is another. Both are sadly wrong, and yet each is clearly in evidence today.
The two words—‘Remember Me’—are surely sufficient to command the willing heart, as also to disclose the folly of all ritualistic mystery. No, these words declare that the blessed Lord desires nothing less than the remembrance of Himself in death, as they ask for nothing more, nor can they give aught else than that sacred memory. How sacred that memory is, is taught us in 1 Corinthians 10. The cup which we bless is the communion or participation by all the saints in the blood of Christ! What more sacred? The bread which we break is the same in the body of Christ! What more holy, more profound, or more precious? His blood and His body!
The Jew had his altar, and the Gentile had his table—one of demons—but the Christian has the table of the Lord, and all are absolutely distinct. There can be no intercommunion. Each sets forth a totally antagonistic system—irreconcilably so. The Jewish altar is obsolete; the Gentile heathen table is demoniacal; the table of the Lord is Christian.
Hence the profundity of the service, nay, the sacrament, of the breaking of bread. Moreover the loaf is one, for the saints are one body. Unity marks the whole Christian system. Then what decorum should characterize this feast (See 1 Cor. 11). It is “the Lord’s supper” and not our own. Bad behaviour there should not be either in eating or in drinking. Idolatry may indulge in its excesses and orgies, but the Christian realizes that he is remembering his absent Lord; and, at that moment, showing His death, in view of His return. His heart is duly and divinely solemnized by these great facts. His whole soul is filled with adoration and praise. All else than the grace and infinite love of the cross is forgotten. No other subject whatever need engross his mind. Christ is more than enough; and, better still, it affords the Lord the deepest joy when He finds Himself thus actually remembered by His assembled saints.
There may be other assembly meetings, as for prayer, etc., but that for the breaking of bread—the Lord’s supper—the weekly remembrance of Himself is, as our chapter clearly shows, of chief importance in the estimation of the Lord. Yet how heartlessly abandoned by the great majority of Christians, today, for a service of some kind which has only man for its object. But in no other way can “ye show the Lord’s death till He come”.
Beloved Christian reader, may I urge on you for Christ’s sake the sacred desire of your Lord that, in responsive love to Him you do your part in thus remembering Him?