Chapter 8, What should I do during the Lord’s Supper?

When we are invited to our friend’s house for dinner, we go there to eat with him. Yet, it is more than just sitting down to eat dinner. We relish the fellowship and relationship we have with our dear friend and we want to be with him more than simply eating the meal. The dinner time becomes special not because the food is good but more so because the friendship is delightful. It is the friendship and fellowship that makes the evening wonderful. What makes the Lord’s Supper so wonderful is not the bread and wine nor the seriousness that surrounds the celebration. Fellowshipping with Christ is what makes the whole Supper so delightful.

Satan

During the Lord’s Supper, we must consider the high privilege and the great blessings we are about to receive. We must also be aware of Satan’s presence during the Supper. Remember, Satan was at the first Supper. “Then after he [Judas] had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him.” (Jn. 13:27)

He will accuse you and bring to your mind many things you have done wrong. He will distract you, inject wicked thoughts into your minds, etc. If he can rob you of any of the spiritual blessings, he will. So pray against him and cling to Christ by faith. If the work to be done is good and holy, then Satan will be most active during that time. Resist him firm in your faith.

Basic stuff

We all know that we should fix our minds on what we are about to do. We should fight against wandering thoughts and against careless mannerisms. We do not wish to undo all our good preparations by mindlessly going to the table of the Lord.

We have all seen little children looking around and grabbing at things during the Lord’s Supper. We excuse that behavior because they are so young. We would say, “What do you expect? They don’t understand and that is why they act that way.” We also recognize that they also cannot take the Lord’s Supper because they do not understand what to believe or how to act.

Would it not be horrible if you understood all these things regarding the Supper and yet you acted as that child? Yes! Be focused and pray. Ask the Lord to help you focus on Him. You are commanded to do this in remembrance of Him and not in remembrance of something silly!

One and Ten

Robert Murray McCheyne said, “For every look at self, take ten looks at Christ.”  It is easy to focus on ourselves during the Lord’s Supper. McCheyne’s advice should be heeded. It is true we must be aware of our sins but we must also remember we are not coming to the supper because we are perfect and healthy. We need the supper for our spiritual nourishment because we are weak and sinful. It is the Lord’s table and not our own. He invites us to it because it is for our spiritual benefit. By faith, we look to Christ recognizing that His death has fully paid for all my sins. You are not coming to the table because you are “good enough,” you come because Jesus is your Savior and you partake in remembrance of Him!

Faith in the face of your personal sins

You might have committed particular sins through the week that you did not rightly handle. You never really confessed them or you merely mouthed words of repentance. Anyway, you feel guilty. Whatever the sin, confess and repent. At the same time, look to Christ in faith.

Christ has died on the cross for your sins and this sacrament remembers that deed — you “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” The wine represents the blood of his covenant “which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt. 26:28) As you drink the wine, believe that as certainly as that wine is taken in, your sins have been forgiven.

The Lord’s Supper is not merely a memory recall but it is also fellowshipping or communing with Christ. You are to feed on Christ by faith, receive of his fullness, and trust in His merits (LC, 174). You by faith receive and apply to yourself Christ crucified and all the benefits of his death (LC, 170). This is where the benefits of his past finished sacrifice on the cross become a present benefit to your soul.

Faith in the face of your dullness

If you are not well aware of your personal failures and sins, you might be appalled by your dullness of heart. How can you feel so indifferent to what is going on? You might fear greatly because your heart is so cold. Immediately, you may be tempted to panic and wonder if you should step away from the supper.

You should “bewail your unbelief” (LC, 172), that is, you should call upon Christ and say, “Lord, my cold unbelieving heart – O do forgive me. I want to want you more than I do.” Then partake of the supper while believing there is pardon for you in Christ.

You are doing this in remembrance of what He has done for you. Christ’s death on the cross has secured your salvation and has purchased your forgiveness. Even your dull, cold, and lifeless condition was paid for. You are fellowshipping with Christ’s body and blood (1 Cor. 10:15, 16). As these elements of bread and wine are present to your eyes, so you fellowship with everything those elements represent. Our Larger Catechism says that  “the body and blood of Christ are …spiritually present to the faith of the receiver, no less truly and really than the elements themselves are to their outward senses” (LC, 170). In other words, everything that the bread and wine represents are present spiritually to you by faith as certain as the bread and wine are present before your eyes and mouth.

Faith in the face of your accusing conscience

Sometimes you feel “condemned.” You may not be able to put your finger on it. There is a feeling of defeat and unworthiness hanging over your spirit like a dark cloud. You might feel most unworthy and doubt if God really wants you there. You feel reluctant.

This feeling is not uncommon. I recently listened to a brilliant Christian philosopher defend the faith against atheism. He understood all the ins and outs of the Christian faith and defended it very powerfully. During the question and answer session, one asked him if he doubted. He said that he did not doubt the nature of the Christian faith but doubted quite often if God loved him because of his own personal sins and because of his many health problems. I was amazed to see that such a brilliant man could doubt so easily.

Yet, we all doubt and feel condemned at times. The supper seems to hold little benefit for us. How should we respond when the table is served on the appointed Lord’s Day? We must remember that it is for us! “This is my body which is for you.” (1 Cor. 11:24) Christ did not say it is for you because you feel so good or have such a perfect conscience or because you are not cast down. He said it is for you as you are.

When do we go to the doctor? When we are sick, right? Yes. What would you say to someone who said, “I’m going to go to the doctor when I improve and get healthier.”?  Will he really get healthier if he stays away from the doctor? I doubt it. We go to the doctor because we need him. Likewise, we go to Christ because we so need Him and this supper is spread out before us to encourage and nourish us.

Think about it, if you feel condemned and guilty, do you think staying away can help you? Who alone can relieve you of your sad condition? Is it not the Lord Jesus? Will not fellowshipping with Him help you? Will it not cheer your soul and encourage you? In your sad condition, go humbly but expectantly to Him as you eat by faith. Doubt not and remember that Christ has died for you so that you might find life in Him.

While you eat and drink

While you eat the bread and drink the wine, consider and believe that just as you chew the bread and drink the wine, know that Christ is communicating by His Spirit His blessings to you. As certain as you eat and drink those elements, so you fellowship with Christ.

Remember, this eating and drinking has two levels — one by the mouth and the other by your soul. You chew and drink to receive it into your mouth and you exercise faith to receive Christ into your soul. The eating and drinking signify your union and enjoyment of Christ.

Eat and drink with faith. Just eating the bread without faith will do you as much good as if a monkey ate the bread. I have seen some little infants become frustrated because their mommy and daddy were eating the bread and they didn’t receive anything. All they see is the opportunity to eat and put something into their mouths. In the Lord’s Supper, as you already know, it is something more than eating!

Faith in Christ

We cannot forget this one simple truth. Without faith, eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper will be of no benefit to you. You only receive the bread and wine if you do not exercise faith. In addition, you may incur God’s judgment for eating with your mouth without spiritually eating by faith.

Christ is ours by faith and we truly and really fellowship with Him at the Supper — He is “present to the faith of the receiver” (LC, 170) and we are called to “wait upon God” in the Supper (LC, 174). So look to Christ as you eat and drink.

In particular, look to Him regarding all that He has accomplished for you on the cross, and by faith accept the simple truth that you are fellowshipping with Him. The Spirit brings about that special fellowship with Christ. Your stomach may still feel hungry after the Lord’s Supper but your soul will be filled. Remember, it is all about Him — “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

Questions

1. How does Satan get involved in the Lord’s Supper?

2. What are some of the basic things you should not do during the Supper?

3. What if you don’t feel worthy to come to the Supper?

4. What if you feel dull before coming to the Supper?

5. What if you feel condemned before the Supper?

6. What is the one thing we must have as we receive the Supper?

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