For the celebration of the Lord’s Supper it is of the utmost importance that we make sure that we come in a worthy manner, otherwise we may eat and drink judgment to ourselves instead of receiving a blessing from the Lord. It is for this reason that the Word of God admonishes us to examine ourselves in the light of God’s revelation to see whether we meet the requirements for guests at the Table of the Lord.
To obtain a blessing it is also necessary to remember the purpose for which this sacrament was given to the believer. There can be no doubt about the purpose of the Lord’s Supper. Our Savior has told us: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” The apostle Paul tells us: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come.”
This remembrance is, of course, more than a mere intellectual review of certain facts pertaining to the life and death of Jesus Christ. When the believer remembers his Savior and Lord, he is deeply conscious of the organic union which exists between him and this Son of God and Son of Man. There is a remembering of the fact that the Holy Spirit has implant ed in us the root of salvation; and that his life and death have real mean ing for us. It is thus that the remem bering of the death of our Lord bIings about the strengthening of our faith.
We remember and meditate on the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ is our Substitute, given by God because we had nothing to offer as a ransom for our soul. We remember llim as the unspeakable gift of God—a gift promised throughout the Old Testament dispensation and bestowed when the Father sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to bear for us the wrath of God against sin.
The remembrance of Jesus is not complete if we merely think of him as a historical person. Jesus himself has told us emphatically that He came as one who was sent by God. It was God, who so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son. In remembering the Savior we do not begin with his miraculous birth of the virgin Mary. We remember him in the light of the promises given by God to the Old Testament saints. We behold a God who is true to his Word and who does not allow one single promise to remain unfulfilled or to be broken. We say to ourselves: “This God is my God. I can rely upon llim; since he is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
In our remembrance of the Savior we set ourselves against those who have ripped the Bible in two and say that the Old Testament has little or no meaning for tIle New Testament Church. Following the line of divine promises, we come to the eternal counsel of God and remember that the Lamb of God was slain from be fore the foundation of the world. In the Lord Jesus Christ we see the working out of the eternal plan of God and we are reminded of the fact that God’s counsel shall stand and that he will do all his pleasure. We rest in the knowledge that since our salvation is provided in that eternal plan, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church and no one will be able to snatch us out of the hand of God.
We look upon this Christ and re member that without him we would have perished forever. Because of our sins we were under the curse of God. The only possible way of escape was to satisfy the just demands of God. To be freed from the judgment we would have to pay our debt, for “Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her converts with righteousness.” But no sinner can meet this righteous demand of a holy God. The believer who is seated at the Table of the Lord is reminded of the words of the psalmist: “The cords of death com passed me, and the pains of Sheol gat hold upon me.”
Thinking of this we see the wondrous grace and mercy of God in sending his Son. Born of the virgin Mary, he became man and thus could be the representative of man who had sinned. Being God, he could sustain that human nature so that it was able deliver us from it. Beholding the Incarnate Word we see a God of justice to bear the eternal wrath of God and and truth, but also a God of infinite mercy. Our soul Sings: “Jehovah is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness.”
We see our Substitute, we walk with him, as it were, upon the road of sorrows. He bore the wrath of God from the moment of his conception. We think of his poverty. The foxes have holes and the birds have nests but the Son of Man had not where to lay his head. We think of his suffering throughout his earthly life. He walked alone. His enemies hated him. His friends did not under stand him and are finally offended in him. Those who oppose him heap shame upon his head and seemingly triumph over him nailing him to the cross. But more terrible than all this, because of our sins he walks alone because even God forsakes him. With awe we stand before the mystery of a suffering which we cannot fathom. We say with the prophet: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
We remember Him as our Substitute and with fear we see him descend into the valley of suffering. We tremble when we hear his cry from the cross: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” But then our soul rejoices for when his suffering is finished we hear his cry of accomplishment : “It is finished.” We know this to be true, because God con firmed this declaration by raising him from the dead.
Thus we remember our Savior at the table of the Lord. We know that we would not be able to remember him in such a way without the gracious help of the Holy Spirit. It is tIle Spirit who uses this remembrance of tIle suffering of our Lord as our Substitute for the strengthening of our faith. And therefore especially on Communion Sunday we exclaim, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go unto the house of Jehovah.”