The Lord's Supper.

T. D. Wood.

There are two rites or ordinances in Christianity: (1) Baptism, which puts the baptised person on ground of profession; (2) the Lord's Supper on the line of privilege. The truth of the latter was clearly given to Gentile believers through the Apostle Paul, "I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you" (1 Cor. 11:23), It is primarily a memorial feast, having its inauguration and type in the memorial and ordinance of the Passover. In Exodus 12. we get the type; the slain lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs speak of the character of the passover feast; while the girded loins, shoes and staff set forth the pilgrim features of the participators. It would seem that it was the custom of the Jews to "break bread" and "drink of the cup of consolation" for their departed parents (Jer. 16:7; also Deut. 26:14; Job 42:11, and Hosea 9:4). This "mourning feast" would have significance to a godly Jew familiar with the Hebrew scriptures.

Now on the night of his betrayal, the Lord instituted this feast of remembrance on the day of unleavened bread when the Passover must be killed (Matt. 26, Mark 14, Luke 22). Luke distinguishes between the "cup after supper" and the "cup of the Passover supper" of the preceding verses which refers to the "fruit of the vine" in the coming kingdom. Thus the Lord leads on to our present portion, the loaf speaking of His body given for us, and the cup His blood shed for us. Clearly "the cup of blessing which we bless" is "the communion of the blood of Christ" and "the bread which we break" is "the communion of the body of Christ." The one loaf also sets forth that believers "being many are one bread," which is in contrast to the twelve cakes of Lev. 24 setting forth administration and the 12 tribes in their representative character. The "shewbread" upon the table of Ex. 25:30, speaks of Christ, "the bread of God" and "bread of Life" (John 6:33-48). The manna sets forth Christ in His path of humiliation (the living bread from heaven), the wilderness food of the believer. We keep the feast, but, we have the sheaf of the "morrow after the sabbath," Christ risen!

It is important to see that while 1 Cor. 11. gives the order and privilege of the Supper, 1 Cor. 10 that with which the Supper has identified us. It involves our baptism, to which the Apostle refers in type "our fathers were all baptised unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea Believers are baptised into His death (Rom. 6., 3). Then he adds "they did all eat … and did all drink," alluding to the cup and the bread. This is fellowship (as to our participation), the New Testament anti-type of the peace offering! Moreover it is the anti-type of the Passover for "even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" (1 Cor. 5). But where do we eat it? As to our place, in the wilderness, but to faith within the borders of the land; as another has said, "between Egypt and God's Israel rolled the Red Sea and the Jordan." Yet how different is this to the Egypt Passover; there judgment was impending, now in the wilderness observance we partake as a people wondrously blessed, a "people near unto Him" (Ps. 148:14).

The Supper is the assembly's greatest privilege, the rallying point to Christ, the Divine Centre. This involves both privilege and responsibility. As our highest privilege how blessed it is to respond in bridal affection to our absent Lord's request "this do in remembrance of Me" (Luke 22:19). The Supper is our response to His love. In the early days of the Church's history, the act of "breaking bread" had its own peculiar place in the lives of the early believers (Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7). It is clear from 1 Cor. 10: we have three centres, (1) the Jewish altar, (2) the Lord's table, (3) the table of demons. We must distinguish these, the "table" sets forth the fellowship into which we are called, of which the Lord Himself is the bond (1 Cor. 1:9). The Supper is the supreme expression of this fellowship (1 Cor. 10:16-17), and the Holy Spirit, the power (2 Cor. 13:14). From the solemn words of 1 Cor. 11:27-34 we learn that self judgment is needed in order that we may be in a right spiritual condition to take the Supper. We are not told to examine ourselves and stay away but "let a man examine himself and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup." The Supper sets forth the assembly's privilege, that of all saints, and being the Lord's Supper it should be taken in character with the holiness of the House, where God dwells; where the Father's love is known and enjoyed; where the glories of the Son and the wondrous depths of His love become real and blessed to faith. We see in the fine flour of the meal offering and the frankincense beautiful types of the Lord's life (Lev. 2.). The sin offering is expiatory and substitutional and the trespass offering is making restitution. Yet we show forth His death and the fragrance of His life and His death sets forth the undying devotedness of the Son to His Father's will. "This is the law of the burnt offering because of the burning upon the altar all night unto the morning." "The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out" (Lev. 6:9, 13). Let us not forget that we show the Lord's death "till He come," when the night of His absence will end in the "morning without clouds"; His blest presence for evermore! Meantime how blessed it is to respond to His request, to keep the word of His patience, and though marked by little strength to keep His Word and not deny His Name (Rev. 3).