In the Lord’s Supper, we see an active depiction of the Gospel. The Gospel is the “Good News” of Jesus coming in fulfilment of promises to Israel, accomplishing redemption for humanity, and also renewing humanity until completion at the resurrection and restoration of all things. The Lord’s Supper allows us to explain the Gospel and participate in it in a way that is not possible without observing this ordinance instituted by our Lord. One of the beautiful aspects of the Lord’s supper is its simplicity and depth: The Bread and The Cup. Two simple elements pointing to two deep spiritual realities: Jesus’s body was broken for us and his blood was shed for us. It can be understood easily but comprehending the depths and implications of what it means will take eternity. The Lord’s Supper summarizes and gives a portrait of the Gospel in at least three ways:
1. The Gospel is seen in commemoration.
Jesus says to his followers, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Taking the bread and drinking the cup is to remind us of what Jesus said and did. Remember that he came in fulfillment of centuries of promise beginning as far back as Genesis 3:15. Remember that he lived perfectly and faced suffer similar to that which we face. Remember that he was betrayed by those closest to him. Remember that in Jesus, God himself was humiliated and bore humanity’s shame and sin on a cross. Remember he was buried. Also remember that he rose himself from the grave. Remember that he did this to rescue a people of whom you are a part if you believe in him. Remember he promises his people resurrection. Remember he will one day restore all things finally.
2. The Gospel is seen in transformation.
The Apostle Paul instructs the Corinthians church about the Lord’s Supper telling them that is it is proclamation and a call to examination. These two things together bring about personal and corporate transformation. When we eat the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus. The Lord’s table is open to anyone who would draw near in belief and repentance. Paul tells the church to be careful though, not to partake without contemplation and examination. The Lord’s table has an open invitation but those coming harboring sin and refusing repentance have not properly understood the Gospel. Taking the bread and cup without proper consideration of who we are in light of who Jesus is communicates a message contrary to the Gospel. The Gospel brings transformation, but transformation is brought about through the difficult work of repentance. When we believe what God says about our state, attitude, and behavior it will eventually and inevitable contradict what is natural within us. This is the work of repentance, believing God when I don’t want to and when I don’t feel like it. But, when we embrace repentance, we see it as something wonderful and beautiful because here the Gospel is infused into our lives and we are being transformed into someone who resembles Jesus. We take the bread and the cup to proclaim this transformation and to apply this transformation within us by the Gospel.
3. The Gospel is seen in expectation.
Paul’s words “until he comes” place the time frame on how long the church is to practice the Lord’s Supper. When we take the bread and cup, we take it with expectation and belief that he is coming again. Taking the bread and cup is a statement of faith in what Jesus’s words. Jesus says that he will not eat this bread or drink this cup until the Kingdom of God comes. Jesus says there is a future hope for those who eat the bread and drink the cup. The Kingdom of God will be fulfilled, it will come. Each time we enjoy the Lord’s Supper, we are declaring our faith in what Jesus will one day accomplish in us and in all of creation. The bread and cup point to resurrection and restoration.
Even so Lord Jesus come.