How the Lord’s Supper continues to speak in our time
I recently had the opportunity to give the table talk before we participated in the Lord’s Supper at our church. With all that is going on right now, I thought there were some timely ways in which the Lord’s supper can shine a light in our broken world today. I would like to share them with you too.
We are currently experiencing a period of strife and turmoil in our country. In the wake of recent events, lines have been drawn and tensions have mounted. Right now, we can look out and see a people deeply wounded, deeply angry and deeply divided. Perhaps now more than ever, we need this reminder, this memorial, this meal.
The world we live in is broken. Not just now; rather it has been broken for a very long time. Broken from the moment mankind embraced the enticing deception of sin, in rebellion against their creator. This is who we are- a fallen people in a fallen world. A world in need of justice, righteousness and peace. A world in need of Light.
Look around our society, at the division, the anger and yelling, the distrust. It is our natural tendency to draw lines, form groups and see the world as “Us” vs. “Them”. But there was One who came to erase those lines, and shine the light back to the way the world is supposed to function. And here today, we shine that light to the broken world. Here we come together, men and women from different backgrounds, difference races, different socioeconomic classes. In this meal, we come together as family, presenting an enigma to the world.
Some 2,000 years ago, a young Jewish rabbi went to his death on a cross, accused of insurrection and blasphemy.
The life of this rabbi should have been lost to history. His town was a name of derision, he had a meager following and he stood at odds with the ruling class of the day.
He was not the first man to make Messianic claims, nor would he be the last. He was not the first to die because of these claims. Nor would he be the last.
Yet it was only this man’s death that would make what we are doing right here, right now, possible.
If the story of Jesus’ life had simply ended with his death, as did all the other would be messiahs of his day, the majority of us would not know each other. I would have little chance of knowing even a single person gathered here today, much less share this supper with you as family. It is only through Jesus that we can cut down those lines that divide us, to build bonds that are foriegn to the world, and become a family that is not based on blood, class or race.
This is possible because the story of Jesus’ did not end in death, but rather in life, in resurrection. And through his death and resurrection, he was vindicated by God and established his people, his kingdom, who share this meal together as brothers and sisters, awaiting the return of our King. Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection brought a people together from all languages and tribes to be one body, his body.
Though we are currently in a time of great tension, division is nothing new. Division is the topic Paul has to address in his first letter to Corinth. Ironically, it would seem that their division was most visibly manifested when they met together to share the Lord’s supper, the memorial that should have distinctly proclaimed their unity.
We often read from chapter 11, but Paul begins his discussion of the supper in chapter 10.
“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”
(I Corinthians 10:14-17, ESV)
Paul tells the church at Corinth that when they share this meal together, they are participants in the body and blood of Christ, in his sacrifice for us. But he doesn’t stop there. We are also participants with one another. The bread symbolizes the body of Christ, but not just the physical sacrifice, but also the body of unified believers that his sacrifice made possible. When we gather around this table and share this meal together as the family of God, in a very real sense we proclaim the death of our Lord until He comes. We proclaim that Jesus’ death and resurrection had a true, life changing effect on history. When people from many different walks of life, different cultures, levels of education, races, social classes, ages and means come together as one, both here and around the world, a statement is made to the world.
What we are doing here is not natural. It goes against human nature. What we do here today, proclaiming our unity in Jesus, shines a light to a broken world. And what this world really needs right now is the light of Jesus.
As we share this supper together, let us remember the sacrifice that made it possible, let us discern or recognize the unified body of Christ, and thereby let us proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again.
Come, Lord Jesus.
The Love of God, and the God of love, calls out to you.