July 30, 2013

"You proclaim the Lord's death until He comes"

This morning we, once again, have the distinct privilege of remembering the Lord Jesus through the bread and the cup of the Lord’s Supper. What an honor it is! And what a blessing that God has ordained for us these visual, touchable, smell-able, taste-able aids to remind us of how Jesus died … having His body broken, and His blood shed for His people. “Do this,” He said … “in remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11.25).

But sometimes we may overlook the fact that the Lord’s Supper is not only intended to help us look backward to Jesus’ cross … but also forward to His coming! Isn’t that what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11.26? “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

Did you hear it? In addition to the primary pattern of “remembrance,” the Lord’s Supper also has a future element to it. Somehow, while looking mostly backward, we are still to have one eye, as it were, looking forward, too! We are to remember, not only that Jesus came, but also that He is coming. Just as we now hold these hallowed symbols of Christ in our hands … someday we will hold Him, too! Just as we see this visual sermon today, someday we will see Him – “face to face”. And we are to “proclaim His death”, by means of the Lord’s Supper, until that day!

And there – in that word “proclaim” – is another aspect of the Lord’s Supper that we may sometimes forget. The Lord’s Supper is not only a remembrance of Jesus’ death … but a proclamation of it; a visual sermon, if you will. By taking up the elements in public worship, we are reminding one another what Jesus has done. We are, in essence, preaching Christ to one another! And not only to one another, but also to those in our midst who have not yet taken Jesus in by faith – to our children and grandchildren; to friends and guests who do not yet know the Lord. To all these, we “proclaim the Lord’s death” by means of the communion bread and cup!

And, though the New Testament writers do not spell this out, I also wonder if, by taking the bread and cup into our hands, and especially by placing them onto our tongues, if we aren’t also preaching not only Jesus’ death, but the necessity of our own faith in Him, as well. Most importantly of all, yes, the elements symbolize what Jesus did … but maybe our taking them into our mouths symbolizes what we have done, too – namely, taking Christ Himself in by faith! And anyone who wishes to be saved from sin, and made right with God, must do so – take Christ in by faith!

So, if you are here without Christ, this morning … that is what I hope you will see as you watch us take the bread and cup into our hands and mouths – mostly a reminder that Christ’s body was broken, and His blood shed for sinners; but also a prompt that, like the bread and cup, this Jesus must be taken in, and not merely observed!

And if you are a believer in Christ, and will be taking the Lord’s Supper yourself today … I hope you’ll also remember that Jesus is coming soon; that the Lord whom you hold in your hands today, in symbol form, you will soon embrace in the flesh, and see “face to face.” What a day that will be!

Remembering, preaching, and enjoying Christ with you … “until He comes.”

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