On Sunday morning we share the Lord's Supper at Hope Church. In the Lord's Providence I was able to preach on it last Sunday as we're making our way through Mark's Gospel in the mornings, and we came to Mark 14.12-31 . In His wise Providence none of the notes I wrote for the last point of the sermon printed out, as I discovered in the pulpit, so I improvised (biblically, you understand!). Anyways, as we at Hope prepare our heart for the Supper, here's a digest of those missing notes:
1. As we eat and drink we fix our eyes on our forgiveness
The Passover Meal Jesus was celebrating with His disciples was a meal focusing upon God’s righteous anger at sin, the faith of His people in His way of deliverance, and their experience of deliverance. The Lord’s Supper is all of these things to us.
The Supper is for forgiven sinners. It’s not for people who know that they’ve sinned, but hope that their religion will save them. Nothing saves us except Jesus. Our religion can’t save us, feeling bad about our sins won’t save us, taking the Supper won’t save us. Only Jesus saves. The Table is only for forgiven sinners. Not for their friends, or their relatives. It’s for them.
We set our hearts on so many things in life, don’t we? We want, we strive, we obsess on having this or that, or getting this or that. And life is a painful process for many of us of discovering just how mistaken some of our ambitions are….The most important thing in life – the one thing we really need in life, is the one thing Jesus died and rose again to bring us – is forgiveness. Are your forgiven?
2. As we eat and drink we focus on Jesus
Is there a finer and more helpful communion hymn than Bonar’s ‘Here, O my Lord, I see Thee face to face’? Just think on that first line. Here we see Christ. We see a life given for us, and receive a word of welcome through that surrendered life.
Who is the Supper for? It’s for those who are able to focus on Jesus, as their Jesus, the Saviour and Lord they love. It’s not for those hope they might be able to see Jesus for the first time in the Supper. God doesn’t promise to give first sight into His Son’s saving death as we share bread and wine. The Supper isn’t a means of bringing saving grace to us. That’s a Roman Catholic view, and it’s tragically mistaken. But the Supper is what we call a ‘means of grace.’ That means, that as we focus upon Jesus, His Holy Spirit gives us insight into His love for us. We see Jesus, the man, the man of love; we see the death which has destroyed our death, and beyond that, the resurrection which guarantees our eternal life. We remember Him, as He commands us to. By faith we see Him face to face.
3. We eat and drink because we are satisfied with Jesus
True disciples are satisfied with Him. Surely, Ps. 73.25-26 is real for us at the table: ‘Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’
The simple and unvarnished truth is that Judas wasn’t. Judas wasn’t satisfied with walking with Jesus. He wasn’t satisfied by His love and His Lordship. He wanted more. His heart was greedy for things, not hungry for Jesus.
How are we doing? Are we content with the truth that God has given us His own dear Son, the Lord Jesus, as we see afresh in the Supper? Of course, we have difficulties and temptations. We all have setback and heartbreaks. And we live in a greedy age. It’s a secular virtue to be restless, dissatisfied, ambitious for more. It’s not that, as Christians, we are to have no ambition; we are to have more! But it’s an ambition to be satisfied in all that God has for us in Christ, and to live moment by moment in expression of that satisfaction. ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain.’
4. We eat and drink because we want more of Jesus
The Supper points us towards heaven. As much as the Supper strengthens the intimacy we have with Jesus here, we always leave the Table aware of how weak our faith is, and wanting to know our Saviour better. We long to hear the Bridegroom’s voice with our own ears, and for faith to give way to sight.
Jesus teaches us that His eyes were on heaven, even as He instituted the Supper: ‘I tell you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s Kingdom’ (Matt. 26.29). So should ours be. Paul says the same: ‘for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes’ (1 Cor. 11.26). He is coming, we shall see Him, and we shall be like Him, as we take our places at the marriage supper of the Lamb. What a prospect!
So, who may take the Bread and the Wine? People who are committed to Jesus, as the One they love as their Saviour, the One they want to know more of, the One Whose love satisfies them, and the One they long to be with in Heaven.