Strengthened by the Supper (3): What’s God’s Intent for the Lord’s Supper?

Strengthened by the Supper (3): What’s God’s Intent for the Lord’s Supper?

When Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me,” he was not simply saying, “Remember the historical facts of my death.” No, no. He was telling you to take hold of all that he accomplished for you by faith. He gave you bread and wine and the promise of the gospel. You see the gospel in the Supper. You also receive the gospel. Christ, through the minister, gives you bread and wine to taste, to eat, to drink, as signs and seals of his true body and blood.

Let’s think about the Lord’s Supper. Let’s try to better understand this incredible gift from our Lord. What’s God’s intent for the Lord’s Supper? Why did God give you and me the Lord’s Supper?

Heidelberg 67 asks, “Are both the Word and the sacraments, then, intended to focus our faith on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as the only ground of our salvation?” It answers, “Yes, indeed. The Holy Spirit teaches us in the gospel and assures us by the sacraments that our entire salvation rests on Christ’s one sacrifice for us on the cross.” God intends the public preaching of His holy Word to focus your faith on the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as the only ground of your salvation. Through preaching, the Holy Spirit teaches you the gospel and powerfully works faith in your heart. But God has given you more than preaching. God has given you the sacraments. The Lord’s Supper, then, is intended to teach you as well. The bread and wine are visible, tangible, and physical signs and seals through which the Holy Spirit further declares to you the gospel and assures you of the benefits of the gospel. The Lord’s Supper shows you that the gospel is true and real for you, and through the Supper, the Holy Spirit nourishes and strengthens your faith.

The Lord’s Supper is not a complicated ceremony. It’s pretty simple: bread and wine are served to eat and drink. In this Supper, Jesus himself communicates or gives or imparts himself to you (WSC 88). He said, “This is my body . . . this is my blood of the covenant.” As much as you receive the Supper by faith, Christ is giving you himself and all the benefits of salvation. The Supper is not magic. It possesses no power or grace apart from Christ (WSC 91). Nor does its grace and helpfulness depend on the minister giving it. Christ gives you himself and the benefits of salvation by his Holy Spirit working in you. Christ graciously blesses you, a believer, through the Supper. The blessing only comes through faith. In fact, one who participates in the Supper without faith eats and drinks God’s judgment and wrath against themselves. So faith is the means by which the soul feasts on Christ. Faith is the soul’s mouth.

What is the Lord’s Supper then? I mean, what are we talking about? Westminster Shorter Catechism 96 explains:

The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament, in which by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ’s direction, His death is shown forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of His body and blood, with all His benefits, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace. [1]

You need to get this. Christ gives you bread and wine. That’s what he commanded. The bread and wine are signs and seals for you; they truly show you Christ’s sin-atoning death. When you receive, you are eating and drinking substances with your mouth: bread and wine. But as you believe in Christ, you are actually eating and drinking Christ spiritually by faith. You are eating and drinking with the mouth of your soul, which is faith.

Read More

Scroll to top