It seems fitting for us this, at least for Canadians, thanksgiving weekend to partake of communion, the Lord’s Supper, and remember our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and His work on the Cross. This time of year is traditionally one where people gather together and give thanks for all they have in their lives. What is more fitting than for us as the body of Christ, a united family of sons and daughters of God our Father, to gather together in remembrance of that which we have most reason to give thanks?
We practice Communion today because we believe that it is something Jesus commanded us to do, and because it is something we read being done throughout the early Church. In our Bibles we find 4 accounts of the Lord’s Supper; 3 are in the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and the last is found in 1 Corinthians. Today I want to take a look at Luke’s account, turn with me in your Bibles to Luke 22:14-23. Here is what Luke recorded about the last supper of Christ with His apostles:
“14 And when the hour came, he reclined at [the] table, and the apostles with him.15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (ESV)
When we partake of communion we drink the bread and the juice, replacing wine, in remembrance of what Christ did almost 2000 years ago; God Himself in the flesh coming into His creation to give His life so that we may be forgiven of our sins and have eternal life with God Himself.
As we partake of the bread we remember our Savior Jesus Christ as He, after being beaten and scourged by Roman soldiers, carried the Cross upon which He would be hung from Jerusalem to Golgotha where He would be crucified. We remember Him nailed to a cross, the most vicious and barbaric form of capital punishment known to man, bearing not just the painful weight of His body suspended above the ground by nails in His wrists and ankles, but taking upon Himself the full weight of God’s righteous wrath towards our sins, a punishment we could never bear ourselves; dying in our place bearing the punishment we deserved so that we may know God and follow Him. We remember Him crying out “Into your hands I commit my Spirit” as He breathed His last breath and finished the work He came to earth to do; surrendering His life for us. Let us eat of the bread together and remember our Saviour, no longer on the Cross, but having defeated sin and given Himself for us, now resurrected and alive forever more. You may eat the bread.
As we drink of the juice let us remember Jesus’ words; “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood”. We have been going through the book of Hebrews since the beginning of summer and throughout the various sermons Tom, Joel, and I have drawn attention to a theme that undergirds the entire book; that of God’s covenant with us as those who have faith in Jesus Christ. In Hebrews 8 the writer of the book draws attention to Jeremiah 31 and promises that Jeremiah made about the coming of a New Covenant, one that would replace the one that God made with the Jews at Sinai. When I preached Hebrews 8 at the end of August I mentioned three promises that this New Covenant ushered in: all those who believe in Jesus Christ have been given new hearts with which we desire God and are able to, however imperfectly, follow Him; all those who believe in Jesus Christ know God personally in a way only a few under the Old Testament knew Him, we have the same relationship characterized by the prophets like Jeremiah; and all who believe have received the forgiveness of their sins by the blood of Christ shed on the cross taking away a punishment we deserved. Jesus, as recorded by Luke, told His disciples that the communion cup represents His blood shed instituting a new covenant; this is the New Covenant that Hebrews 8, Jeremiah 31, Isaiah 54, Ezekiel 36, and many other Scriptures speak of, this is the Covenant with God within which we find ourselves by our faith. As we drink the juice let us remember what Christ accomplished on the Cross; in bearing the full brunt of the wrath of God He ushered in a New Covenant whereby we—those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour—are freed from the guilt and punishment of our sin, we desire God and are being progressively transformed so that we act and think more and more like Jesus, and we experience daily relationship with God whereby we can freely approach Him in prayer and worship, bringing before Him our needs and desires and joyfully lifting up our praise to Him as we express in word and action the grandeur of who He is and all that He has done in and for us.
You may drink the juice.
Let us pray…