The Institution of the Lord's Supper as Recorded in the Gospels

Notes of an address on Matt. 26:26-28 Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20.

W. J. Hocking.

1917 193 It is a striking circumstance that in the New Testament we have very few ordinances of any sort prescribed for the believer. We have baptism, and we have the Lord's Supper, but nothing besides. This absence of ritual is in great contrast with the religion of the Jews. Under the Mosaic Law, there were many sacrifices to be offered daily, and throughout each day, and these sacrifices were of many kinds. There was a gorgeous and ornate building in which men were to worship. There were priests specially delegated for the purpose of ministering in the holy things and in the holy place and in the various holy services. There were also the Levites with definite duties in the 'Temple precincts; there was in short a great host of rites and ceremonies to be performed. But when we come to the New Testament, we find that this order of things disappears, and that worship in spirit and in truth takes the place of worship by rote. The Lord's Supper is mentioned definitely in a few places only, but always in the simplest language, while the service itself is distinguished by its simplicity. There is nothing difficult in its observance, There is nothing costly in the bread and the wine which constitute the Supper. They are just inexpensive articles within the reach of all. There is no priesthood, as distinct from assembly, authorised for its administration; and the prescribed ritual, if we may call it so, is very simple indeed.

Christ Himself — Not Shadows of Him

Why is there this striking contrast? There may be many reasons, but I would like this evening to mention only one, which I think may be sufficient for the occasion. Under the law, the sacrifices and the services of the priesthood all pointed down the Old Testament ages to One who was coming, and who was to do the great and sufficient work of making an end of sins and of introducing righteousness. But in the New Testament, we find that Person has made His advent into the world, and has accomplished the work of redemption. Moreover, He makes His presence known and felt in connection with this simple service. And when you have the substance, will you care for the shadow? When you have the antitype, where is the need for the type? The Lord's Supper brings the hearts of the children of God into close and living association with the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and having Him, all legal symbolism is superseded, as the Epistle to the Hebrews shows in great detail. It is the Lord, then, who gives the Supper its essential character, and therefore He is able to make His own people recognise His presence under the most adverse and difficult circumstances. They may be scattered and separated, they may be persecuted, but wheresoever they may be in the wide world, let them only be gathered to His name, let them but be desirous to "do this in remembrance" of Him, and He is there in the midst; and His presence amply compensate for every other disability.  The presence of Christ Himself enables the believer to rise superior over all outward circumstances, whatever they may be.

I know that eating the Supper is not individual communion, and we will, perhaps, touch upon that part of the subject later. But it should be clearly understood by all that no person can properly enter into the meaning of the Lord's Supper, and that no Christian can experience the blessed fulness and joy of its observance apart from the recognition of the presence of Christ Himself, verily in the midst according to His word, not cognisant to the senses, it is true, but cognisant in spite of the senses. Oftentimes there are matters arising in connection with the observance of the Lord's Supper which may tend to distract or turn away the heart and the thought from the subject of the moment, but when Christ's presence is realised all these things lose their influence, and dwarf into their proper insignificance.

The Circumstances of the Institution

It is interesting to look at the institution of this Supper with particular reference to the circumstances under which it was inaugurated. This will help us, I think to gain a view, a right view, of this memorial and of its spiritual import. It was upon the eve of the great climax (shall I say?) in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ that this Supper was instituted. He had been in this world, the Son incarnate, passing through its varied scenes, the wonder of the angels, and the scorn of men. What that passage through this world meant to Him we shall never know. But there was always before Him during His ministry that crisis to which He alludes as His "hour." There was an hour, a fixed moment, to which He was advancing. Everything concerning Him had been pre-arranged; all the events were determined beforehand, and He knew the future. He was never taken by surprise, as we are, but consciously facing the difficulties, the sorrows, the agonies of Calvary, He went forward, unchanged in heart and purpose and action by what He knew was coming. His love never diminished in the slightest; His works of mercy were never left undone because of the greater work of atonement before Him, but with imperturbable grace He proceeded continuously day. after day, night after night, in pursuance of His lowly service. His days were filled with beautiful expressions of heavenly love in this dark and evil world, set forth for man's faith and knowledge.

But when He drew near to Calvary, He was in the very shadows of that oppressive darkness which enveloped Him on the cross. And it was on the eve of His departure from this world that He instituted this Supper. On the passover night itself, on that night so full, too, of events of universal importance, He instituted this Supper. You will remember that He was together with His disciples in the upper room expressly to keep the passover supper. The company was Jesus and the twelve. They were twelve distinguished men, but distinguished in a special manner. They had been called out to be His apostles, His beloved followers and His witnesses. They were selected to see more of His face than any in the world besides, to hear more of His words than others, and to be admitted by Him into scenes of closest intimacy.

Disciples Contending for Precedence

The disciples were around the table, and Jesus at the head, looking upon them, as, indeed, He is looking now upon us, He saw all that was within them, and Scripture records that during that memorable night they showed that they were men of like passions with ourselves — changeable, unreliable, sometimes impulsive in love and earnest zeal, and at other times carried away by foolish and wicked thoughts. The disciples should have known what was before their Master. Only a few days previous Jesus had said to the twelve, "We go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him unto the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify" (Matt. 20:17-19). That the Jews and Gentiles would unite in His crucifixion and death, He told them on three occasions. You would have thought that their interest and expectation of these events would have been quickened on that night — the passover night. What did the blood of the lamb signify? Did it not recall the hour of judgment and death passed long ago in Egypt? Had they considered the Lord's words seriously, would they not have entered that room with solemn hearts and chastened spirits? Would they not have been filled with a foreboding sense of sorrow and pain before their beloved Master? We find, however, that they were engaged in petty quarrels, struggling among themselves as to who should be greatest amongst them. Observing, I suppose, the disciple whom Jesus loved taking the place nearest to Him, their jealousy was aroused. Why should he be there? Why not they?

What was this painful altercation to our Lord? He was contemplating the morrow when He would bear their sins in His own body on the tree just such sins as these. They could not understand His loving purpose. They were unable to enter into the grief before Him. Such lack of spiritual feeling was the sorrowful result after three years' service with them. There was for Him no comforter, no sympathiser, none that cared. Do not let us judge them too harshly; let us rather judge ourselves. Are we never guilty of the indulgence of unworthy thoughts at the table of the Lord? In the most solemn moments, when the Spirit of God is making to live again before us the hour of suffering at Calvary, thoughts may even then arise in our hearts, altogether out of harmony with the subject of the Spirit of God. We must know that we ought to bow our heads in shame when our Lord looks round upon us as we are eating His Supper, because things are sometimes in our hearts which ought never to be there at such a holy season.

The Service of Jesus at the Supper

Jesus rose from the table, He laid aside His garments, He girded Himself with a towel, knowing, as the beloved apostle said, that the Father had given all things into His hands, that He had come from God, and was going to God. He then went round as the servant of them all to wash their feet. Was not this a sight to move their hearts? The Lord of glory, whom angels delighted to serve, was there meekly serving twelve men of humble birth — Peter, James, John, and Judas too. The Son of God had come down to serve them all "I am among you as He that serveth." The word, the act, form a rebuke for us all. Let us remember that On no  occasion in our spiritual experience do we see the glory of humility exhibited more than at the Lord's Supper. That loaf, that wine — what do they tell us? Of the One who came down from above to serve, of the One who did serve in life and death; of the One who went under the cloud of wrath to serve, and to the death of the cross and into the grave to serve. Let us, then, never be ashamed to serve this Christ, for has He not served us, even to the death of shame?

Jesus and Judas

All these circumstances are associated with the institution of the Supper, which forms a contrast in its calm beauty with what was around Him in Jerusalem, and what was before Him on the morrow. In the little company itself there was wilfulness as well as weakness. One was altogether divided in interests from the Lord. For Judas was there. "Ye are clean," says the Lord, "but not all." In the little circle, there was this spectacle of direct apostasy before the eyes of our Lord. This man had been able to withstand the benign rays of heavenly glory shed directly upon him for three years. His heart was not softened by the ministry of grace, but hardened. The love of Jesus had never penetrated his soul. It had, on the contrary, become a stronghold of sin, of shameful deeds, of Satan himself. The betrayal was an exhibition of the power of Satan, over-coming one in that small apostolic band. The Lord appealed to the traitor. He gave him the sop, and Judas took it, but withstood the overture. All the love of Christ was thrown away upon him; his soul was completely devastated and ruined. "That thou doest," the Lord said, "do quickly." Then he arose from the table and went out, and Scripture adds, "it was night." He went out into the blackness of night's darkness to do a deed of blacker darkness. Judas was at the table, but went out from the presence of the Lord, to go to his own place. He was not "clean," as the Lord had said.

But he having gone, the Lord, as they were eating, took bread and the wine, and instituted the Supper. This done, He went on to speak those valedictory words we have, and which we love so much, in the Gospel of John. These discourses speak, not of the forgetfulness on the part of the disciples, not of the evil within them, but to their hearts which were full of love for Him, and of sorrow, because He was about to leave them. He knew that they truly loved Him; He knew that in spirit they were prepared to renounce everything for Him. He knew that they were exposed to danger, and that they were feeble in action but fearless in spirit. He said 'I am going away. You are filled with sorrow. I know that you love Me. I know that you will lament when I am gone from you, but I will come to you again.' So He brightened the future for them by the promise of His return, and thus buoyed them up with the glorious hope of His returning, having first taught them the remembrance of Himself in the Supper.

All these circumstances tend to give a special character to the Supper of the Lord. They all combine in an appeal to our affections that we should value its observance. There is no engagement more solemn or serious, and nothing more blessed as a spiritual occupation. I do not know what we can do or say that calls for more earnest examination of our own hearts than the participation in this feast. Yet the service is simple and accessible, and, while we are assured of the Lord's presence, there are no terrors set before us as there were at Sinai — no clouds of darkness, no thunderings or lightnings. On the contrary, we have the sweet and loving invitation of the Lord Himself, "This do in remembrance of me."

The Lord took Bread and Blessed

Now let us notice for a little the actual institution of the Supper by our Lord. The details are all familiar to us who are present, no doubt.  While the disciples were eating, the Lord took bread. This act was not associated with the ritual of the passover supper; it was an act quite separate, of course, and quite distinct from it. The passover supper was kept, the ceremony was maintained in the prescribed form, and then the Lord instituted a new Supper, and one that would supersede it, because the passover was about to be fulfilled by the sacrifice of our Lord Himself, and having been fulfilled, it disappears, as it were, from the round of appointed feasts.

The Lord took of the bread that was before Him, and He blessed. We do not read that He blessed it. You will observe that the word "it" is in italics in our version, and therefore the significance is not that He took a piece of bread, and made it something else. He did not transform it. He blessed. He blessed God. He recognised the Giver. His heart went up, as He loved it should, in thanksgiving to Him that was above. No occasion too great, none too small, for each and all things He would bless, and would give thanks. If you compare the account in Luke with those in Mark and Matthew, you will find that in Luke the parallel words are, "When He had given thanks." Blessing, therefore, is equivalent to giving thanks. There is no support at all in Scripture for the notion that the bread mysteriously and wonderfully became something different from what it was before.

The Lord blessed, as we find He did on other occasions. It was a relief to Him to look upwards. He could find nothing of joy in what was around Him, but He could turn to God, and to the joy set before Him. His link with the Father was close, His fellowship was intimate and precious. It was His habit to look up and give thanks.

There is no doubt that there is more involved in the act than the mere giving of thanks for the reception of the bread. There was about to be sacrifice and blood-shedding, and both were before the holy soul of our Lord. This bread was to be His body. It had long been before Him to do this deed of redeeming love.

1917 213 He had come into the world to inhabit the body prepared for Him and to taste the vicissitudes of life among men, and now He had come near to the accomplishment of the work given Him to do. He could bless God that it was so. Presently He would wrestle in agony in the garden of Gethsemane with the power of darkness in full view. Wrath was before Him in vision, and then He would struggle, as it were, at the prospect which was so abhorrent to His holiness. Here at the table, He was about to say, "This is my body." The joy that was before Him of having accomplished the Father's will, and of having rescued from terrible destruction myriads of the souls of men, filled Him with delight, and He looked up and blessed, and He broke the bread and passed it to them.

Not that He partook of it Himself. He desired to eat the Passover with them before He suffered, but this Supper was something new and different. This was something for them to do for His sake. This was to be a memorial for them. Did He Himself require a memorial? Does He need some tangible token to keep us before His heart? some memorial to bring us to His remembrance? Never; our names are engraved upon the palms of His hands, but do we not forget? Do we not often need reminding? He knew our weakness, and He took the bread, and said, "Take eat, this is my body." And by these simple words He joined us up, so to speak, with Himself in His great work at Calvary, and in its results. It is as if He said, 'Make this your own, let this truth be yours, let it be within you, let it be assimilated in your very being; take, eat.'

Hence it is, beloved friends, that we come so close to the blessed person of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Supper. "This is my body," are the Lord's words. There is no need, however, for fanciful notions with regard to the bread. Let us be clear that the material is bread, and that it remains bread. He said, "This is my body," using, of course, a figure of speech, such as was often upon His lips. He spake in the manner of that nation to whom He came. When He said "This is my body," He thereby attached a special significance to the loaf. This, and nothing else, was to be the emblem which should set forth His body, and should for this reason recall to their minds His body.

The Bread a Memorial

Let us be clear with regard to another point. When the Lord said, "This is my body," He held the bread in His hands, and handed it to them. He handed it to them to eat. But He was still there before their eyes. He administered, if we may use that technical term, the bread before them. But He was distinct from it Himself. The bread was a memorial for them, and given to them by the Lord, He being separate from the bread which was and is emblematical of the body in which He suffered and completed the work of atonement. This feature of the Supper is ever true, and is an important one for faith to realise. He Himself, the living glorious Lord, the One into whose hands all things are now given, is present to preside at the feast, to superintend, if He will be allowed to do so, on the occasion. But He is separate from that which is His memorial. The living Lord conducts us in our remembrance of the Christ who died.

There is a reason I have for referring to this distinction now. I have found that some persons regard the Lord's Supper as if it were a means of causing them to remember someone they have in some measure forgotten during the previous week. For six days, or some part of the six days, they have been so busy with other things that the Lord has been out of their thoughts. The memorial is valued because it brings Him back to mind. This is a false view of the Lord's Supper. The Supper is to remember the Lord as He was, in His sufferings and in His death. It is a shame that any Christian should require something to cause him to remember the Lord as He is, in the glory. Can it be that we are so far removed from the sense of the living joy of knowing Christ Himself that He passes out of our hearts, and we need something visible, like the breaking of bread, to bring Him to our minds? We do not assemble to remember Christ the glorified Christ, we come to remember the One who died. There is but One adorable Person, of course. Jesus Christ, who is on high is the same Jesus who was crucified, but we meet to go back to the past. And the Spirit uses that marvellous faculty of memory which we possess, the power we have of making yesterday live again, so that the events of long ago become as fresh as ever in our hearts. We know we all have that power in some degree. and this power of remembrance is turned to account by the Spirit of God in connection with the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is something further stated about the bread, which is His body, — which, as Luke says, "is given for you." If you compare the accounts carefully in the three Gospels (which it is always profitable to do), you will find that there are some words in Luke which are not in Matthew or Mark. Luke adds just those words which lay hold of our hearts, and draw us into close communion with the Master Himself. "This is my body, which is given for you," and as He said this He could apply the words personally to any one of them that sat at the table. "It is given for you." 'For me,' says Peter, 'For me,' says James. They could each and all respond thus and say, 'It is given for me.'

The Lord meant to 'quicken the pulsation of their hearts towards Himself. He wanted to draw to Him the devotion of their souls, as they should realise that the sufferings through which His holy body would pass would be on their account. The great work would be for their benefit and blessing. I know therein was the accomplishment of the will of God; I know the death of Christ has very wide-reaching results. We shall never measure it properly, nor understand it fully. But at the Lord's table, while there may be loftier thoughts, is there:anything which can touch our hearts more deeply than the remembrance that He suffered for me? He died for me. "My body is given for you," He says. The whole man was given. The blessed Person who surrendered Himself as an offering, a sacrifice, held nothing back. Such is the sacrifice the Lord loves — the whole burnt-offering, everything completely rendered to God. "This is my body, which is given for you."

The Cup after Supper

But the Supper was not confined to the loaf only. Subsequently the cup was. given also. He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, "Drink ye all of it, for this is my blood of the new testament" In these words the Lord shows us unmistakably that the particular event in His history to be remembered on these occasions is His death, because there were the two elements. There was the bread, and there was the wine. The bread was the body, and the wine the blood. Separate as they were in that emblematical form, they truly set forth thereby the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the body, as we know, the blood is the life. So it is expressed throughout the Old Testament. But when blood is seen distinct, it is the witness of death. So it came about with our Lord historically, for we read, the soldier came with a spear, and pierced His side, after He had delivered up His spirit. Forthwith there came out blood and water. This token of death was registered upon earth as evidence that the great work of life-giving had been accomplished. The supper reminds us that there was veritable death in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we think that Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord, did indeed taste death, bowing to the king of terrors, who brings paleness to the cheeks and tremors to the hearts of multitudes of men, we are filled again and again with amazement. The Lord tasted death, and yet He had displayed such power over death, making the grave yield up its victims, young and old. He could speak, and the dead lived again. Yet now He says to the apostles, "This is my body; this is my blood."

How full of wonder must have been the hearts of those men as they pondered over these words. What did the Master mean? It was not the first time He had spoken of giving them His flesh to eat. He had often spoken of His death. It was now come very near at hand. "This is my body which is given for you." 'There is no other way of life for you; it must be this way of death for me. In my life, in my incarnation, I am altogether separate from you. It is only through my death that you can participate. Only thus can you be blessed; hence I give my body and shed my blood for you.' The Incarnate Son was here in this world, but His death was necessary for man's salvation. God had said, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Here then was pictured the sinless One giving His life and going down into death for the blessing of those who were around Him, and of those who should believe on Him through them. He took the cup, and gave thanks, and they might all drink of it. Judas was not there. Jesus had washed Judas' feet with water, but his heart was left unclean. What would be the use of his eating and drinking with an unclean heart? It is worse than useless to drink the cup if the heart is estranged from the Lord. The hearts of the eleven were true to Him, and He invited them to take and drink. 'You can share, you can participate. Drink ye all of it.' Moreover, the Lord added, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood," speaking of that new covenant of which the prophets had foretold, of the covenant which would be yet made with the house of Israel and Judah and which will be seen in all its glory in days yet to come. But the blood, as the basis of that covenant, was about to be shed, and the cup is the memorial of it.

Sins Forgiven. Christ Remembered

"This is my blood which is shed for you for the remission of sins." You observe the Lord's Supper is not a place where the children of God come together to remember their sins. Their sins are remitted. The institutions of the law differed in this respect. When the sacrifices were offered of old, there was a remembrance made of sins every year on the day of atonement. But believers are not invited to the Lord's Supper to remember their sins. They come to remember Him who died, having borne their sins in His own body. It is not that we are not conscious of having sinned for such a person there could be no supper in its true sense. The supper is for those for whom Christ shed His blood that their sins might be forgiven. Jesus, looking upon the company in the upper room, saw the indelible marks of disfigurement that sin had wrought in their moral characters. They were clean by His word, but He came not by water only, but by water and blood, and He was about to shed His blood for the remission of their sins. So when we drink the cup, we are reminded of His blood shed, and we are then indeed on holy ground. We are together in close fellowship with our Lord and Saviour. Hence we cannot but think what it is that has brought us there so near to Him.

The disciples did not enter into the true character of the cup. They could not anticipate the value of the blood of Christ to them. But we know it. Why is it we come together? To remember the Lord in His death. Being there, the cup brings before us that precious blood which has cleansed us from all sin, and made us suitable to sit in the presence of the Lord. Judas had gone out, but Peter and James and John and others remained, and they were made the recipients, of this communication from the Lord, in spite of the activities of Satan, and the weakness of the flesh. And why is it they were there? Why is it they were maintained in such hallowed society at such a time? Because of the precious blood of Christ about to be shed that their sins might be removed.

Oh, beloved friends, how wonderful, this theme is for our meditation when we are together to remember the Lord Jesus Christ! Can it be possible that we appear on such occasions to lack subjects for thought and worship? Can it be that the trivial happenings of the past week occupy our hearts, and obliterate every holy memory of Christ and His passion and death? Is there not enough in the death of Christ to engage our hearts for one brief hour? Do we chafe because there is a long protracted silence? there not sufficient love and interest in our individual hearts to cause us to be absorbed with the Lord Jesus and what He suffered for us? Do we find it irksome because there is no audible voice? It is a happy thing when a man breaks the silence by the Spirit of God, expressing what is on the hearts of all, but it is happy also, when there is no voice, to recognise the supremacy and sufficiency of the Lord Himself.

Beloved friends, let us think again of the night of the institution. Here is the Lord of glory, here in this world, where for three years He laboured in active ministry. He is about to die. He gathers around Him just before He leaves the world eleven men out of the millions of the world's inhabitants — eleven men who, because of previous, training, might at least have been expected to enter into what was before Him. But there was not one who rose to the real facts of what was before the Lord. They were all very far away in spirit from the burden of His heart at that time. Is there not still an astonishing lack of interest, in the death of Christ? Out of all the millions upon the face of the globe at the present time, how many are there who meet together habitually for the sole purpose of fulfilling the Lord's word: "This do in remembrance of me"? They are very few, comparatively, who show any regard for His will in this respect.

Do we not care for His death? Did He anywhere prove His love for us as He did upon the cross? Shall we tire of this holy theme? Is once a week too often to remember Him? Oh, beloved friends, what must the indifference of His own have been to the Lord on the night when He was betrayed? What, then, is it now that so many can be indifferent, careless, regardless of the memorial of that infinite work which cost Him so much to accomplish?

We can, of course, think of the Lord at any time, and in any place, but we ought to have the Lord's words written upon our hearts, "This do in remembrance of me." The remembrance is a question of doing. It is not a sacrifice to be offered, but it is an act to be performed. He has definitely said this, and it is not for us to take away from what He has said. "This do in remembrance of me." 'I shall leave this world that does not want Me. I shall return to the place I had with the Father before the worlds were. I want you to raise a memorial to My death here in this world, not in marble, not in costly architecture, not in anything which can be measured by the riches of this world, but by a simple act, of no external value in itself, by nothing impressive in the nature of its ceremony. Do this in remembrance of Me. I call for this act of obedience on your part.'

Beloved friends, unless we eat the bread and drink the cup, we cannot "do this" in remem brance of Him. You may make excuses, you may raise objections and difficulties, but you cannot carry out the word unless you eat the Supper. His words are simple and easy of understanding, as we have reiterated this evening, and because they are simple, their claim is irresistible. The Lord does not ask us to make a great sacrifice, but He does ask us to eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of Him. Let your whole heart and soul ever be in the observance of His will. Let all that is true and spiritual and begotten of God within you be concentrated upon the performance of this act. If we honour Him, He will honour us. If we are true to Him, He will be — I was about to say, true to us, but He is always true to us whatever we maybe. If we deny Him, He is still faithful which is all the greater reason why we should, so far as in us lies, carry out this word of our Lord, laid by Him upon the loyal hearts of those who love Him, and who follow His footsteps through this world.

The Observance of the Lord's Supper as Recorded in the Acts and the Epistles

Notes of an address on Acts 2:41-47; Acts 20:6-7; 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 1 Cor. 11:20-29.

1917 232 Last week we read the passages from the Gospels, which record the institution of the Lord's Supper. There we had the account of the actual circumstances under which the Lord spoke to His disciples on that evening, and set apart the bread and the wine as emblems of His body and His blood, desiring them to eat the bread and drink the wine in remembrance of Himself. It is of interest and help to find that we have also in Scripture instances of the actual observance of the Lord's Supper, showing that the early disciples understood what the Lord wished them do, and that they very rightly and naturally and spontaneously responded to His desire, and habitually commemorated the Lord's death in the appointed way. And these records shed their light upon the practice that we ourselves should adopt today in observing the words of our Lord.

Breaking Bread in Jerusalem

We find from the first Scripture that I read in the Acts that the disciples in Jerusalem immediately after Pentecost were in the habit of breaking bread together. It was a practice that they all speedily adopted as a company. There were the apostles who preached, there were disciples who had known the Lord in the days of His flesh, there were others who had believed the preaching of the apostles by the Spirit of God, and these were all banded together by the same Spirit who came down on the day of Pentecost, and were given by Him a unity of mind and a unity of purpose. All their hearts and affections were concentrated upon the Person of Jesus who had risen and who had ascended out of their sight. He was out of sight, but not out of mind, nor were His words out of mind. And they were together, being all of this common persuasion, that there was none upon earth and none in heaven comparable to the blessed Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and whatever had been said of old through Moses or through Isaiah had no greater claim upon them than the 'words of the Lord Jesus. There was something in the heart of each one of them that desired to carry out the express wish of the Lord. They had His word handed to them, and they felt that that word had authority over them, and that it was therefore incumbent upon them to answer to His word. He said, "This do in remembrance of me," and they therefore continued in the breaking of bread. 'There were other things of the apostles mentioned which they were careful to maintain — doctrine, fellowship, as well as prayers, but bound up with these church observances and of equal importance, there was the breaking of bread.

I think, beloved friends, that we ought to note well with regard to the breaking of bread that it demands the personal love and devotion of a heart to the Lord Jesus Christ. The ceremony is nothing, the actual act of eating and drinking is nothing in itself, and as we find from some of the Scriptures that I have just read, the mere form may even mislead, and bring a person into a position full of danger and peril to himself. But if the Supper is observed in its simple character, there is nothing sweeter, while there is nothing more powerful on this earth as a spiritual service than the breaking of bread. The observance does not require spiritual advancement and growth, but it does require that the heart of the individual participant shall ring true to the Lord Himself. The Lord's word must be recognised behind the bread and the wine. The Lord Himself must be present to our faith, giving us to realise His approval of our presence and of our actions as well as His acceptance of the love and devotion of our hearts. It is a worship-service designed by our Lord to knit up our hearts to Himself. In our general walk the Lord comes before our hearts in His glory, as the One who is on high, as our Captain, our Lord, as the One whom we shall be like eventually, and He directs to Himself, as the ascended Christ, all our energies and all our services.

But at the Lord's Supper our position is different. We are not then looking at Christ in glory, as the One whom we are serving, and the One to whom we shall go, but at the same Lord conducting us to the foot of the cross, Himself there as the victim, as the Saviour, as the One who suffered there with our sins upon Him. Then He, as it were, crushes within us by this remembrance all movements of sin and selfishness, and draws out to Himself those new affections, those new movements of our hearts begotten in us by the Holy Ghost. For this reason, the Lord's Supper is of the greatest value to young Christians, as to old. Could you have younger Christians than these of whom we read in the Acts? Just born again by the Spirit of God, but they nevertheless continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers. Their hearts were brought to realize in these occupations the living presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. I will repeat that this realization is of essential importance in the spiritual life of every believer. It may be said that there is no occupation on earth of collective character in which the spiritual life is brought into closer touch with Christ than at the proper observance of the Lord's Supper.

I only allude to these verses in Acts 2 ; they can be studied at your leisure, but we do find from them that the disciples, being all together in Jerusalem, were enabled day by day to break bread. They broke bread from house to house, or rather, at home. They met together in the Temple; they broke bread at home. They assembled in many places, but at home in their upper rooms they broke bread, and day by day was not considered too frequent to remember the Lord Jesus in breaking bread. The Lord had said, "This do in remembrance of me." These words are a deathblow to the notion of those persons who sometimes assume an air of superiority and say, "I can remember the Lord anywhere. I can sit in the privacy of my chamber and remember Him. I can walk along the street and remember Him." This may be so, but this is not to eat the Lord's Supper. "Do this for a memorial of me" It is therefore only in the doing that the obedience is rendered. The Lord has not given us a thousand acts to do in His name. He has not surrounded us with manifold rites and ceremonies, but there is this one thing specially specified for us to do in remembrance of Him.

Breaking Bread at Troas

In the second passage that I read from the Acts, we have a very interesting record. There we find the apostle Paul at Troas, and evidently Luke, the writer of the book of the Acts, was also of the company, for he speaks, as you notice, in the first person. They came together on the first day of the week to break bread. It was not possible for the disciples to be together for this purpose every day as they did in Jerusalem. There were many who had come to Jerusalem to keep the feast of the passover and the feast of weeks and were free from secular occupations and duties, and they had special opportunities to meet together every day, but it was not so at Troas. We find that the apostle had to wait there until the first day of the week in order to break bread. It was striking that the apostle did so, because he was in a great hurry. He was bound for Jerusalem, and his time was precious. His time was so pressing that he could not visit the important assembly at Ephesus, but sent for the elders to meet him at Miletus. But Paul abode in Troas seven days for the breaking of bread. The great apostle waited seven days so that he might enjoy the incomparable privilege of breaking bread with the disciples.

We find from the narrative that the definite purpose for which they came together was to break bread. The Revised Version reads, "When we came together to break bread," expressing the unity between the visitors and the local believers. Yet the occasion of the gathering was quite unique. The great apostle to the Gentiles would be there. The disciples would hear something valuable from his lips. Paul was a man worth listening to. We might have supposed, therefore, that they would have come together specially to listen to those precious exhortations and instructions that would be sure to fall from the lips of the apostle. But they came together to break bread. They came together to meet the Lord of the apostles. They realised that there was an order in divine things, and first and foremost in divine things is the Lord Himself. Happy the man who always keeps first things first. Christ is first; the Lord is first. His claims must be supreme. Let us everyone here tonight make this our life's motto. Let the Master be first.

And so, when they came together on that first of the week, the one object before them all was to carry out the Lord's word. It was as if they said "We shall get a word from the apostle, but let us fulfil our responsibility to the Lord first of all.“ Beloved friends, let us all strive to have within our habits and dispositions continually the consciousness that the breaking of bread must stand first and foremost in the claims upon us. Let us feel that the Supper is the Lord's wish, it is His word. It is His claim that is laid upon us, and we must not deny Him the worship of our hearts. Let us agree that we will put ourselves to all kinds of discomfort, but we will not miss the breaking of bread, and when we come together, we will come together with this object before our minds. Do not wait until we enter the door and our eyes fall upon the bread and the wine that then for the first time we think of the breaking of bread. When we come together, this should be the object filling our hearts; we should all come to break bread. Let there be ten, twenty, or an hundred or more, and if we all come to break bread, what a meeting there will be! What power there will be, because all hearts will be united with the common purpose and aim of breaking bread. All will be desirous of fulfilling the word of the Lord. Will any then miss a sense of that joy and peace whose source is in heaven? Not one.

The First of the Week

This example at Troas is of special interest because of the association of the breaking of bread with the first of the week. There is a beautiful bond, as it were, existing between the first of the week and the breaking of bread. The first of the week — was it not then that our Lord rose victorious from the grave? Did He not come forth and make Himself known to His disciples on that memorable first of the week? And He also made Himself known, we are sure, there at Troas on that first of the week. It is the day when He loves to display Himself to the faithful hearts of His disciples. It is a day that stands out notably in the Christian's history, because of its hallowed association with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord in His rising power and glory makes Himself known on the first day of the week. And so at Troas they came together on that day for the breaking of bread, and afterwards the apostle delivered a discourse to them, it being the eve of his departure on the morrow, and he continued his speech until midnight.

The Lord's Supper at Corinth

Let us now come to the Epistle to the Corinthians. There we have very full instructions with regard to the breaking of bread. In the 1 Corinthians 11, you have them set out in detail, and they repay close attention. You find that the breaking of bread is here called the Lord's Supper. They had been coming together, but they had not been eating the Lord's Supper in a true sense. I wish you to notice in this chapter the recurrence of the title of the Master as Lord — the Lord's Supper, the Lord Jesus, the Lord's death, the Lord's body. And the reason for this repetition is easy to find. Because they had forgotten — perhaps — nay, they must have forgotten, that He was the Lord. The Lord Jesus conveys to us as an expression His power and authority which are not absent when we remember Him as the crucified One. Jesus was there at Calvary. He went into that place of seeming weakness, "crucified in weakness," uplifted between the two malefactors. But God raised Him from the dead and made Him Lord and Christ. He is Lord of all, Lord of every one of us, and has the right of perfect control and command over everything that we have and are. There is not a pulse of our beings but is under the strict supervision of our Lord. And we are always responsible to Him for what we do, what we say; and what we think. Much more then when we "do this" are we responsible to our Lord. The Corinthians had forgotten Him in this respect, and they had made the Supper their own supper. They had looked upon their own things and had lost sight of the things of the Lord. It is easy to forget the Lord's presence, and then it is that the true value of the Lord's Supper is lost.

It is natural for persons to be attracted most by extraordinary acts and uncommon scenes which appeal to the senses. In the absence of such it is difficult for many to concentrate their hearts and thoughts in remembrance and worship. There is one obj ect, however, that will command the; attention of the most careless and fitful persons, and that is the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He collects wandering thoughts; He subdues the restless spirit. He speaks, as it were, within the tumultuous heart, and says, "Peace, be still." And so, when we are together, on the occasion of the Supper, the Lord Himself comes into vision. I am speaking, of course, of the faith of the heart. Observing the Supper develops this faculty of our faith. Since we come together to think of Him, to remember Him, it develops our hearts and minds in the memory of Himself and in the sense of His presence. The oftener we do this, the better we should do it.

I do not know what words I can use to impress the importance of this feature of the observance of the Lord's Supper upon all who are here tonight — the great importance of being able to realize on such occasions the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. You know that a person can go away into his own room and shut the door, and know the secret presence of Christ with him. That must surely be in accordance with the experience of us all. But that experience should also be true collectively when we come together, and it can only be so when our hearts and minds are set on the things of the Lord Jesus Christ, and not on our own things and the things around us. There is, as we know, a continual effort to draw away our thoughts from the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is always something apt to arise between our souls and Him, to fill our minds with matters not proper to the Lord's Supper and the Lord's Table, and therefore continual effort and watchfulness are needed and prayer to the Lord Himself, who will never fail us. The Corinthians had absolutely broken down and failed in this particular. They had fallen so far as to desecrate the Lord's Supper, reducing it to a common meal. Oh, how the heart of the apostle was horrified by what they were doing. He writes to them urgently, impressively, to win their hearts back to an apprehension of the real character of the Lord's Supper.

The Lord's Supper and the Lord's Day

We find this phrase, the "Lord's Supper," is a peculiar one in Scripture usage. It is a term which in the original text is not applied to anything else except to the Lord's Day. The Lord's Day and the Lord's Supper are therefore two opportunities which are sacred to the Lord Himself. It is the Lord's day, it is no one else's. The day is hallowed because it belongs to Him, and wherever you are you can never destroy that bond between the Lord and His own day. This term is full of meaning to a Christian. It is the day of resurrection. If Christ be not raised, we are yet in our sins; but He was raised, on the Lord's day. Everything belongs to the Risen One, and that day, the first of the week, is His day, the first of a new order of things, the beginning of the new creation of God.

But there is the Lord's Supper too. That simple homely meal is His. He is there. It is His feast, He presides, He makes the Supper what it is ideally. Take the Lord away, and what is it? Well, for Corinth it was an occasion for gluttony amongst the rich, and for envy and dissatisfaction amongst the poor. Instead of holy thoughts, instead of worship and prayers and thanksgiving, instead of bowing at the throne of glory and grace, they were carried away by earthbom feelings, and so it became to them an unholy occupation. But the Lord by His apostle recalls their hearts to Himself in words which are familiar to us.

We gather from these verses what is really important instruction. The apostle Paul received special revelation with regard to the Lord's Supper. He says, "I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you." You know that the apostle Paul was not one of those who saw Christ in the flesh, but he saw Him in the glory. The Lord communicated direct with the apostle of the uncircumcision. He had special work for him to do, and He gave him special instructions. The Lord could have made this memorial service known to him through the twelve, of course, but it was so ordered that the instructions with regard to the Lord's Supper should be communicated personally to the apostle Paul by the Lord Himself. Does not this fact strike you as strongly emphasizing the importance of the Lord's Supper as a Christian institution? We saw last week the beautiful and affecting picture of the Lord Jesus in the upper room, dispensing the bread and the wine to His disciples, and giving to them a significance they never had before. We also recalled the solemn associations of the institution of that Supper, what was proceeding at the table itself, and what was immediately before the Lord, and so our hearts were directed by these circumstances to its beauty and value. We now learn something fresh. Not the Lord at the table, but the Lord on the throne communicated with the apostle the details with regard to the breaking of bread. The Lord in His glory thought it needful to speak directly to Paul and to tell him His mind with reference to the Supper. Was it not of the highest importance, therefore, since the Lord made it the subject of special revelation? It is indeed of importance. The Lord is continually teaching our hearts to feel its value and importance in an increasing degree.

The apostle said, in effect, to those men at Corinth, "What are you doing? I cannot praise you in this. You have altogether strayed from the real meaning of the Lord's Supper. Do you know that I received it from the Lord? It was not my own ordinance. I did not receive it from Peter, James and John. I received it direct from the Lord. It has therefore the utmost claim upon you. Do not think it is anything which can be undertaken lightly. It is solemn, it is holy, and the Lord Himself has desired that your whole hearts should be in it." The apostle spoke by the Holy Ghost, of course, but here he says, "I am speaking to you not merely as an apostle. I am communicating to you that which I received from the Lord Himself." Always remember that this Epistle to the Corinthians was not only to the saints at,Corinth, but to all calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus everywhere (1 Cor. 1:2). As Gentiles we come within the scope of this communication made to the apostle of the Gentiles. The Lord's Supper comes to us, therefore, from the Lord Himself through the apostle Paul.

The Night of the Betrayal

"The Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed." Have you ever at the Lord's Table pondered upon this expression? — "the same night in which He was betrayed." Why is it brought into this passage? The betrayal is mentioned, I think, so that they might recollect that the Lord's Supper is to be observed, not in heaven, but on earth. The betrayal was a fruit of sin. In heaven there will be nothing of sin, nothing of self; hence nothing will be necessary to recall wandering hearts there. But here upon the earth, even at the Lord's Supper, there is a possibility of the presence of that which is not of God, that which is of self, that which is sinful making its appearance. It is painfully true that you may go where you will, but you can never escape from the danger of your own natural heart and the natural hearts of others.

"On that night in which He was betrayed, He took bread." These people at Corinth were exposed to the danger of doing, not to the same degree, but the same kind of thing that, in its full development, led Judas to betray his Master. We must not execrate Judas and forget ourselves. The Lord did not speak harshly to him. His deed of shame is recorded in holy writ for our warning, not, however, that we should gaze upon Judas, but rather upon the Lord, and think what sorrow it was to Him to say, "One of you shall betray me." He cared for Judas, and yet Judas betrayed. Him. Recall what He" has done for you, for me. Is it possible that I can forget Him even in the solemn moment appointed for remembrance? that I may be engaged unworthily even at such a time as that? that my eyes may be drawn away from Him to consider others, and that I might even think evil thoughts at such an occasion as His Supper? What would it be to the Lord's heart if I should forget Him when I am together with others to remember Him in the breaking of bread?

Beloved friends, it magnifies in our eyes the Christ we adore and serve that in the night in which He was betrayed He took means to awaken the weak and forgetful hearts of His own lest they should wander farther and farther from Himself, and from the remembrance of His coming cross and passion, and so He established this feast of bread and wine. Not that Judas was present at the Lord's Supper, because we find from these verses that the Supper, the Lord's Supper, was instituted after the passover. It was "when He had supped" (verse 25), and Judas went out directly he received the sop from the Lord. The Lord gave him the sop, and said, "That thou doest, do quickly," and after the exit of the traitor this ordinance was founded. Can you think of the Lord requiring Judas to do this, "in remembrance of me"? No, it is true hearts He wants. He wants your worship, your fellowship in His sufferings. "Could ye not watch with me one hour?" the Lord said to Peter in Gethsemane. Shall it be that we become tired of being together to think of Him, and when there is silence and opportunity for deep meditation upon the holy theme of the Lord's Supper, we fretfully wish someone would speak, or sing, or pray? Let the Lord's word come home again to you: "Could ye not watch with me one hour?"

"This is my body"

1917 250 "The same night in which He was betrayed, He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat, this is my body, which is broken for you. This do in remembrance of me."

I love that sentence, "This is my body." I know that the verse has been misinterpreted and abused to induce men and women to indulge in idolatrous practices. It is not implied that the bread becomes the body of Christ. The bread is bread continually. The Lord said, "This is my body." What did He mean? He was referring to Himself, and referring to Himself, as it seems to me, in all His absolute perfection and completeness. "This is my body," wholly, completely, and unreservedly given up in sacrifice to God for them and us. "This is my body"; think of Him, the blessed Lord, the Holy Christ that He was here in the days of His flesh, perfect man and perfect God, walking through this world filled with all the perfection it was possible for man to have and to exhibit. He came at last to the Cross, to the altar, and laid Himself completely upon the altar, and His body, soul and spirit was offered up in sacrifice. He held nothing back. He was the complete burnt offering, ever acceptable and fragrant to Jehovah.

We know that it is our natural tendency to hold something back from the Master. It is a great day when through the grace of God a man comes to the point that he is able and is willing with his whole soul to give himself up to the Lord, as we are all enjoined to do in Romans 12, rendering spirit, soul and body to the Lord for His service and praise. People talk about consecration as a great event, and so it is, but in point of fact we are consecrated from the beginning of our spiritual history. We are the Lord's by purchase and by sanctification. We belong to Him entirely every part of us. But often there is the disposition to keep something in reserve for ourselves, to do something or other just in our own way. For instance, to give the Lord one day in the week, and perhaps use the other six for our own pleasure and purposes.

"This is my body. It is for you." The Lord has in this great renunciation set us an example. He has given everything for us. What have we given for Him? What have we done in return? When you look upon the cross, His body was there offered as a sacrifice for sins, for my sins, for your sins, for you. This is a wonderful word, of our Lord, beloved friends: "This is my body," and this body is for you! God had prepared that body for Him. It was a holy thing born into this world, never tainted with sin; and the Lord from first to last kept it in this world pure and unspotted, and when He came to the end of His ministry, He said, "This is my body. I have kept it so that it might be sacrificed for you. I am about to lay down my life. No man can take my life from me. I give it up for you." If such self-abnegation does not speak to a man's heart, what will? If this perfect sacrifice does not call out praise and worship, what will? We shall not learn any greater wonder than this in heaven. More fully, no doubt, we shall know it, but we begin to learn the great lesson of it here. We do so especially at the Lord's table. We come there, and the Lord tells us what He did for us at the cross. There are some present, perhaps, who have been several hundreds of times to the Lord's table, but if I were to appeal to any of them for their experience, I think they would say that they have every time learned something fresh, something they had not known quite in the same way'before. Something has come with greater vividness than before. The Lord's Supper is always fresh and new and beautiful and joyous to those who realize the Lord's own words addressed to them, "This is my body, it is for you. This do in remembrance of me."

The Cup and the Covenant

"After the same manner, also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood." Thereby He brings before us the important truth that He offered Himself, and made an atonement for our sins. The cup is the new covenant in His blood. It is a frequent scriptural expression, the cup referring to what is in the cup. "This cup," that is, the wine, "is the new covenant in my blood." The special reference is to the covenant promised of old through Jeremiah which God will make with His repentant people, when their sins will be done away, and Jehovah will write His laws in their hearts.

"This cup is the new covenant in my blood," and when we come to these words we learn the ground upon which we can be at the Lord's table at all. The Lord in the midst is speaking to us, and we are enjoying His presence. He is telling us secret things about Himself and His sufferings, which are hidden from the world. Why is it that we are in such sacred nearness without fear and dread? Why is it we are not ashamed, and our eyes filled with tears because of our sins? The answer lies in the words, "This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you for the remission of your sins, that your sins might be removed, that you might be here with me, a blood-washed company, a part of that ransomed throng that will sound my praise through all eternity." Thus the deepest realities in the foundation of our spiritual lives are brought before us in this wonderful Supper.

For a Remembrance

"This cup is the new testament in my blood. This do in remembrance of me." The apostle reproaches them afresh by this repeated phrase. They had forgotten Him. There was the bread and the wine in which they shared, but they did not remember Him. The Lord was not before them. They thought of themselves, and of their own supper, and consequently, they did not eat the Lord's Supper. This is a fault to which we also are liable, beloved friends. You may think I am reiterating this warning unnecessarily about our danger, but if you will confer honestly with your own experience, you must admit the necessity for yourself, if not for others. We do require to be reminded of our weakness. Besides, let us remember also that there is a personage who tempts us to ignore this danger. Remember that Satan was at the passover supper, and that there he entered into the heart of Judas. And in our own case Satan would always distract our hearts and take away our thoughts if possible from the real obj ect of our assembling, that is, the remembrance of the Lord in His death. The death of Christ was the defeat, as it will be the ultimate destruction, of Satan. At Calvary he made his most stupendous effort against the One who came to destroy his works. He failed. But now he seeks to draw the hearts of the faithful away from the Lord Jesus, particularly those of the unwary on the occasion of the Lord's Supper. Oh, beloved friends, I think we shall do well to admit this weakness, and to remember that we may easily be tripped up if we are not watching, as our Lord enjoined us to do.

Eating Unworthily

And now, we come to the latter part of this Scripture. We eat this bread and drink this cup to "show the Lord's death till He come." From the time of His betrayal until the time of His coming again, the observance of the Lord's Supper is to be maintained.

Then the apostle proceeded to speak a special word of reproof to the Corinthians who had so misbehaved themselves at the Lord's Supper. "Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup." Now we ought to recollect that in these words, the apostle wrote directly with reference to the manner in which the Corinthians had been eating the Lord's Supper. I say this because it is quite a common mistake to suppose that the apostle is speaking of the worthiness or otherwise of the persons at Corinth. But it is not so. If eating depended upon personal worthiness, where would worthy ones be found? Not on this globe surely. There are none worthy no, not one. The very fact of the Lord by this memorial directing our attention to His body and His blood shows that we are not worthy. We are only worthy in the sense that He has taken us in our degraded condition, and that He has cleansed us by His precious blood, and thereby He has fitted us to be a kingdom of priests to God and His Father (Rev. 1:5-6). In this manner He has given us peace of conscience, and the right to partake of the supper. But the right is the result of what He has done. It is what His work has procured for us, not our own personal fitness.

The apostle was not speaking of individual worthiness at all here. He was speaking of the manner in which these saints conducted themselves when they were together. How did they conduct themselves? They acted with reprehensible carelessness. They ignored what the bread meant and what the wine meant. They forgot the solemn realities that were expressed by the emblems, and they partook of them as common, meaningless things. They missed, therefore, the whole purport of the Lord's Supper, and that was a serious lapse, as you will see, if you think of their conduct in the light of the solemn verses which precede.

Take yourself to task in this respect. Ask yourself in the day you come to the Lord's Supper, "What am I here for?" Because someone else comes? Because it is customary to attend? Is this, or something like it, your reason? Such are all very poor and insufficient reasons. The real cause of assembling is that the Lord has invited us to do so, and that He is present, and that in the bread and the wine He by the Spirit brings to our view His body which was given for us, and His blood which was shed for us. Having that purpose before us, we discern the Lord's body. It is not that we believe that the bread becomes the body of the Lord, or the wine His blood; such is the wicked opinion of some in Christendom. Nevertheless, it is the Lord's word that comes to us as we are participating. We hear Him speak, and the eyes of faith behold Him, and we are occupied with Him and He is talking to us of His decease, which He accomplished in His body at Jerusalem.

Preparation for the Lord's Supper

Do not let these words of the apostle keep anyone away from the Lord's Supper. It is an occasion for you to fulfil His desire, but also to think of what you are doing. Do not be light about it. Let it be a serious matter. Let a man examine himself. Let him be careful of his thoughts and acts. Do you not think there is great need on the Lord's day to be thinking beforehand of the Lord's Supper? I am not speaking of that very unwise and improper practice of looking out some scripture to read aloud on the occasion. This is feeble and wrong. What is the proper way to prepare for the Lord's Supper? What is the theme that will then be specially before us? The Lord's death. Who is there that fully understands what the Lord's death signifies? No person knows anything apart from the revelation of Scripture. The proper preparation for the Lord's Supper is to have before our minds some of those numerous passages of Holy Writ which are inspired by the Holy Ghost so that we might have right and holy thoughts about the sacrifice and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Saturate your mind with the words of the Holy Ghost in reference to the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Never give yourself up to your own thOughts on that sacred subject. The person who thinks his own thoughts about the death of Christ is sure to end in error and delusion. The one who most rightly appreciates the death of Christ is the one most subject to the word of God, and who will not trust himself to express views about that death in terms other than scriptural.

Throughout the Scripture, in both the Old Testament and the New, we find the great theme of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ recurring, and we have it presented in divers ways. The prayerful study of such passages prepares our hearts so that when we are together we are kept in accord with God's revealed truth about His beloved Son. Let us therefore examine ourselves with regard to this practice, and so let us eat the bread and drink the cup. We are kept by the word of truth, and we may know that the Spirit of God is assuredly directing our thoughts when He brings before us His own words about the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.

One Loaf, One Cup

We also read one or two verses in the tenth chapter, but they refer to the bread and the wine in their symbolism of unity. We see that the loaf sets forth not only the body of Christ that was given for us, but also that it is a figure of that spiritual body which has been framed by the Spirit in this world. All believers are by Him baptized into one body (1 Cor. 12:13). This truth is set before us in the loaf. We, being many members, are one body in Christ. This aspect is subsidiary to the central feature of remembrance. It is just touched upon in this chapter, but we ought not to overlook it, because in partaking of the bread and the wine, we share the one observance in which all believers everywhere are entitled to unite. It is there they meet. It is there that the most spiritually minded of the members Of the body of Christ are to be found. What is the state of the believer who does not rejoice in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ? It sets forth the fountain of every blessing for us.

The one loaf speaks of the invisible unity of the mystical body of Christ, and it is an important thing to remember that there is no thought of division expressed in the appointed emblems. There is one cup and one loaf, both showing that imperishable unity which remains true in spite of the undeniable disunion existing in the professing church. These are silent witnesses to the blood-shedding of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But do not let us forget the main object of these Scriptures we have been considering, beloved friends. Do not let us forget the teaching of the Holy Ghost as to the Lord's Supper. The Spirit is present on that occasion to weld our hearts together into holy unity in spiritual worship and joy, and in power of holy recollection with reference to the death — the sufferings and death of our blessed Lord and Master. We need to have this theme brought over and over again before our spirits to fill our souls again and again with devotion and with praise. Why is it we are slow to praise? Because we are slow to realize the value of His death. It is the sense of what He has done that centres our affections upon Himself; and depend upon it, it is worth our while to be together in this prescribed manner to praise our Lord Jesus Christ. One has sometimes heard the painful remark by believers that it seems a waste of time to come together only for the Supper, the time could be made so profitable, there could be such exhortation, but the hour passes, and nothing seems to be done, and there is nothing forthcoming to feed the new man! Oh, what a low view to take, what an altogether misshapen thought of the Supper of our blessed Lord! What can be better than to listen to Him and to hear the whisperings of His love in our hearts? Do we not on such occasions give our hearts over to Him? If so, a human voice, so far from being essential, may obliterate the heavenly voice of our Master. The voice of the Lord's apostle himself could be quiet until the bread was broken at Troas in remembrance of Him. Therefore, let us strive to see more and more in the simple observance of the Lord's Supper, and to maintain a sense of His presence with us in it and of His voice speaking to us concerning His sufferings on our account. W. J. H.