There are many questions Christians have about the Lord’s Supper, and not all of them revolve around the nature of the substance of the bread and wine. There is the question about timing, how often are we to celebrate it? And then questions about meaning, is it symbolic, or does it truly transfer some tangible grace to those who partake?
But the biggest question, for me, is in regards to its significance. After all, there is a judgment attached to the Lord’s Supper. The Scriptures teach those who partake of it in an “unworthy manner” will bring judgment upon themselves, even to the point of sickness and death. That’s right. Read it yourself in 1 Corinthians 11:27-30.
That seems a bit heavy-handed to me. Does it to you?
That is until I began to see a deeper meaning in the Lord’s Supper, something right below the surface. For years, when Jesus broke the bread and gave it to His disciples, we focused on “this is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19), referring almost exclusively to the physical suffering and death of Jesus on the cross for our sins. And that is true. But there may be more we have been missing.
And when Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20), again, we usually interpret that to only mean the physical shedding of His blood as His sacrifice for our sins. And that is also true. But there could be more to this than meets the eye.
Since we tend to think linearly, we often jump from the Upper Room, with the bread and wine, to the cross, with His broken body and shed blood, and assume we have the point of the Lord’s Supper all wrapped up in a neat package. But what we miss is what happened between these two, the turmoil in the garden, where Jesus had to determine for Himself if He would fulfill His commitment to His Father that He made long before He came as a Babe in Bethlehem.
Never forget, between the upper room and the cross, was the garden. And it may be that what happened in the garden is what the Lord wants us to remember every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper.
Let’s look at the commitment Jesus made to His Father.
In Philippians 2, we have a scene before us that reveals the Lord Jesus making Himself (His action) a “bondservant” (doúlos) of His Father and then, as a bondservant, a voluntary slave, becoming obedient to His Father “to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). And in this passage, we see the depth of the relationship between the Father and His Son and the reason for the suffering of Jesus in the garden. Consider the following:
Let this mind (phronéō – to think, to have the mindset) be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being (to be or exist in a state or condition) in the form (morphḗ – shape, essence, replica, the expression of something that reflects or manifests fully and truly the essence of what something is) of God, did not consider (hēgéomai – view, regard, esteem, count, reckon) it robbery (taking something by force) to be equal (ísos – alike in quantity, quality, dignity) with God, but (His action) made Himself of no reputation (kenóō – to make empty or void, of no value), (to what degree) taking the form (morphḗ – shape, essence, replica, the expression of something that reflects or manifests fully and truly the essence of what something is) of a bondservant (doúlos – a slave, one who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his will being altogether consumed in the will of the other), and coming in the likeness (homoíōma – similitude, resemblance) of men.
And being found (or recognized) in appearance (schḗma – form, external appearance, mode) as a man, He (Christ’s actions) humbled Himself (tapeinóō – to bring low, to abase, to render oneself to a low condition) and became obedient (hupḗkoo –to submit to) to the point of death, even the death of the cross – Philippians 2:5-8.
Note the order: First, Jesus voluntarily became a “bondservant” to His Father (not to any man), and then came in the “likeness of men.” What does this order imply?
Simply this, there may be more to the Lord’s Supper than we have previously recognized. And the meaning may be more than just remembering the physical suffering and death of our Lord on the cross. It may also point to our need to reconfirm the promise we made to the Father when we first came to faith in Him— the promise of ourselves and our total surrender and commitment to Him. Do you remember?
There is much to see in this passage. So join us as we rediscover the wonder of the Lord’s Supper as we embrace the Higher Christian Life.