by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira
And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
Luke tells us that when Jesus met with His disciples in the upper room He said to them (Luke 22:15-16):
And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
That was the last supper with His disciples as He brought His earthly mission to an end.
The passover was given to the Jews as a memorial service. It points to two things:
Now Jesus had come and His mission was about over. Jesus at that Passover Feast replaced it with what we call “The Lord’s Supper.” Like the passover, there were two things in the Lord’s Supper:
Christ gave us two emblems or symbols — the bread and the wine in the passover feast. The two were the blood of the lamb which was applied to the door post and the flesh of the lamb that had to be eaten by all. Likewise these two emblems were to be eaten by the believers. We question as to why there were two. The grape juice points to the blood of Christ which cleanses us from all sin but that was not enough. Both symbols are important. We read in Matthew 26:27-28:
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
In the Old Testament blood signifies life. Deuteronomy 12:23:
But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat.
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.
Shed blood simply means life laid down in death and, since the wages of sin is death, the juice represents the shed blood of Jesus for the remission of our sins. Hebrews 9:22:
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
That is not enough; it is still negative. It does not make us righteous. It simply cancels our bad debt. It makes us neutral. So we need something else if we will qualify for heaven. That is what the body, the bread, represents. Hebrews 10:5-8:
Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am — it is written about me in the scroll — I have come to do your will, my God.’” First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” — though they were offered in accordance with the law.
In verse nine:
Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second.
God prepared a body for our Lord Jesus Christ. That body represents the corporate human race and, in that body, Jesus performed the perfect will of God.
The law requires two things from us. It requires obedience and it requires justice because we are sinners. In the doing of Christ, in His humanity, in that body, Jesus obeyed the law perfectly. He met the perfect demands of the law. That obedience could not cancel our disobedience so He went to the cross and He met the justice of the law. Therefore, the body represents the doing of Christ, the will of God, and the wine represents the dying of Christ which met the justice of the law. Therefore, in the body and in the blood, in the bread and the juice of the vine, we have the perfect and full righteousness of God prepared in Jesus Christ for us.
That is the symbol of the bread and wine, but now we ask the question, “Why do we need a memorial service? Why did the Jews require a memorial service? The problem is that we are by nature egocentric. The natural tendency is for us to turn inward to ourselves. When we do that spiritually, we see failure, disappointments, reservations, broken promises, and discouragement. Then the devil comes to us and he says, “No, you are not good enough to be saved.” Here is our problem. We are by nature legalistic and legalism is simply looking at yourself for assurance and for hope. Jesus knew that so He instituted the Lord’s supper in order to turn our eyes from earth to Him. He designed the Lord’s supper that we may realize and remind ourselves that, as the hymn says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ and His righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” We need to remind ourselves and, therefore, He introduced the Lord’s supper for us poor, miserable Christians because we are still sinners, to turn our eyes on Jesus Christ. Only in Him are we complete; only in Him do we have assurance.
The devil is very clever. He doesn’t want us to turn our eyes on Jesus, so he keeps reminding us about ourselves. He finds a nice little text in the Bible, for the devil knows the Bible, to keep us from coming to the Lord’s supper. Everywhere I’ve been in my years in the ministry, in Africa, in Europe, and in North America, I come across my dear fellow-Christians who shy away from the Lord’s supper. There is a text in 1 Corinthians 11:29:
For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.
We take that one text and we look at ourselves and we say, “Am I really worthy to take the Lord’s supper?” The devil reminds us of our failures and we say, “No, I’m not worthy.” In my last church, at a fellowship dinner before the Lord’s supper, one dear sister sitting at the end of the table said, “I never take of the Lord’s supper until I am sure I have confessed all my sins and I go to people and make sure that I make everything right before I take part in the Lord’s supper.” Four of the people sitting at that table did not come to the Lord’s supper because they felt they had no way of correcting all their faults.
Paul is not saying that the believer who is unworthy brings damnation upon himself. He is saying here that if you take the Lord’s supper flipantly, if you look at the Lord’s supper as a common meal rather than a sacred service, then you are not realizing what it all means. Let’s read the same text in the Today’s English Version. It makes it much clearer:
For if you do not recognize the meaning of the Lord’s body, when you eat the bread and drink from the cup, you bring judgment upon yourself.
In other words, when he takes the Lord’s supper, it does not fulfill this promise. In the days of Paul, they had one cup. When it came to a believer and he was thirsty, he didn’t just take a sip, he took a drink. That is what Paul is correcting. Do not use the Lord’s Supper to satisfy your hunger. If you are hungry, eat at home. This is a sacred service. You have come to remember the Lord’s death, not to feed your stomach. He is not discussing unworthiness. He is talking about making a sacred service sacriligous by eating and drinking a common meal.
For those who have been shying away from the Lord’s supper here is a text. Once we realize the bread and the juice represent the life and the death of Jesus Christ — which is the only thing that saves us — and we reject it, we are saying, “I don’t want to be saved by Christ, I want to be saved by my own goodness.” Look at John 6:53-56:
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will [guaranteed] raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.”
We must not think that we are not worthy. There is not a single soul among us who is worthy. We are all sinners, one hundred percent, but our hope is in Jesus Christ. So I plead with you not to shy away from the Lord’s Supper because you are not good enough. You will never be good enough, even if you live as long as Methuselah. Our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ and God knows that. This is a reminder. “We do show the Lord’s death until He comes,” because until He comes we will be sinners. Even if by performance we have reached the ultimate goal, by nature we are sinners. Until this corruption puts on incorruption, we need a Saviour. Until He comes, we will have this corruption to put up with. That is why we need a reminder. The Lord wants us to remind ourselves to turn our eyes upon Jesus Christ.