The Lord’s Supper
Q46. What is the Lord’s Supper?
A. Christ commanded all Christians to eat bread and to drink from the cup in thankful remembrance of him and his death. The Lord’s Supper is a celebration of the presence of God in our midst; bringing us into communion with God and with one another; feeding and nourishing our souls. It also anticipates the day when we will eat and drink with Christ in his Father’s kingdom.
In many cultures, sharing a meal together is a very significant experience that brings friends and strangers together. This is especially true in Asian cultures where the standard greeting can sometimes be along the lines of, “hello, have you eaten yet?” For some reason, a shared meal has a way of feeding and nourishing not only our physical bodies but also the friendships and partnerships shared around the table. In our past two lessons, we have been looking at baptism and how the external washing with water points to the greater reality of the washing away of our sins through the sacrificial death of Christ on the Cross. This week, we are shifting our attention to the other sacrament that the Lord Jesus has given us—The Lord’s Supper. In his goodness and wisdom, the Lord Jesus has instituted a special meal with which to feed and nourish his redeemed people. Question forty-six asks, “What is the Lord’s Supper?” Answer: Christ commanded all Christians to eat bread and to drink from the cup in thankful remembrance of him and his death. The Lord’s Supper is a celebration of the presence of God in our midst; bringing us into communion with God and with one another; feeding and nourishing our souls. It also anticipates the day when we will eat and drink with Christ in his Father’s kingdom.
Another word that is commonly used to refer to the Lord’s Supper is ‘Eucharist’ which comes from the Greek word for ‘thanksgiving.’ The reason for this is because the Lord’s Supper is not a sacrifice in itself but rather it is a thanksgiving meal for Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice to save sinners. Recalling the Lord Jesus’ words to the Corinthian believers, St. Paul had this to say, “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:23–26 ESV) In the Lord’s Supper, it is the Lord’s saving death that we remember and proclaim. The bread points to his body, broken for us; the cup points to his blood, poured out for us. In this way, as the Gospel is portrayed before us in this shared meal with our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, our union with the Lord is strengthened, our communion with one another is improved, and our faith in the Lord Jesus is nourished and helped. While the Lord’s Supper is a thanksgiving meal that teaches us to look back to what he has done for us, it is also an anticipatory meal that teaches us to look forward to that day when we will eat and drink with Christ in his Father’s kingdom. One day, the Lord Jesus will return to set all things right. On that day, every believer who is united to the Lord will again sit at the Lord’s table to feast with him—no longer with the eyes of faith but face to face.