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Take, Eat…

24/01/2023

Catechism Class. Lord’s Day 28 Q75: Take – Eat.

We are looking at Lord’s Day 28, Q5, where the catechist asks us,  How does the Lord’s supper signify and seal to you that you share in Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross and in all his gifts? The answer states,  In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat of this broken bread and drink of this cup in remembrance of him. With this command he gave these promises: 

First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup given to me, so surely was his body offered for me and his blood poured out for me on the cross.

Second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the minister and taste with my mouth the bread and the cup of the Lord as sure signs of Christ’s body and blood, so surely does he himself nourish and refresh my soul to everlasting life with his crucified body and shed blood.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE.

We’ve moved on from the subject of baptism, and we are looking at the second of the two ordinances, or sacraments, that Christ instituted in His church, THE LORD’S SUPPER, also often known as Holy Communion.  READ: 1 Corinthians 11:23-25  

The first act of participation in the Lord’s supper is to SEE, laid before us, the bread and the wine. Our instructor tells us, …as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup given to me, so surely was his body offered for me and his blood poured out for me on the cross. So, what do we SEE when we are at a communion service? We SEE bread, broken. We SEE the wine, a blood-coloured liquid, whether in a single cup, or in the little glass cups.  SEEING and TAKING the bread and wine is important, because as the catechist teaches us, it is a visual aid, – I can see, on the table and in my hand the broken bread, and the wine poured out and we do as Christ commanded his disciples to do, we remember. him The bread speaking of the body of the Lord Jesus, reminding me that his body was cruelly wounded and broken for me, at the hands of the roman soldiers, as he was scourged and whipped, and bruised and bloody and was made to carry his cross until he collapsed with exhaustion, then he was nailed to the cross to die, writhing in agony and pain. And we see the wine and we think, we REMEMBER his blood, poured out for the remission of our sins. READ Isaiah 53:1-6  So we TAKE the bread and wine, and we look at it, we SEE it, and right away we are reminded of the death of the Lord Jesus, who gave his life for you and me.  

The second command of Jesus as he instituted the Lord’s Supper, was to EAT. Not only to wee take and see the elements but we EAT them. Stating the obvious again, we lift the bread and the wine with our hands, and we put them in our mouths, and we swallow them. They are INSIDE us. READ Mark 14:22-24  

There is great significance in this act of eating and drinking the bread and wine. Our instructor writes, …as surely as I receive from the hand of the minister and taste with my mouth the bread and the cup of the Lord as sure signs of Christ’s body and blood, so surely does he himself nourish and refresh my soul to everlasting life with his crucified body and shed blood.

What we eat and drink does us good! Or at least it should do – let’s hope that we eat and drink sensibly. We NEED to eat and drink to stay alive. Someone once said that bread is the staff of life. For us, here in the west, bread has become a ‘luxury product!’ We have all sorts of bread, including our own famous soda bread and fadge, In ancient Eastern societies however, bread kept people alive, it was their staple diet! Now, Jesus is to the soul, what bread is to the body! He keeps our soul alive! John 6:35  

At the Communion Service, when we take and eat the bread, and drink the wine it reminds us that it is Jesus who gives us new life, spiritual life, we are Born Again, and it is through constant communion with him that we are sustained and refreshed in that spiritual life. READ John 15:4   1 John 1:7  We draw spiritual strength from Christ, – through ‘abiding in Him’ in the Scriptures, in prayer, in fellowship, and as we are spiritually nourished at the Lord’s Table – and that strength is eternal strength, – everlasting life with the Lord, obtained only through his atoning death on the cross. 

There’s a couple more things we should note before we leave this lesson. Did you notice that when answering the question, the catechist said, “as surely as I receive from the hand of the minister.” Like many reformed churches, we aver that the Lord’s Supper is to be presided over by an ordained minister, not by anyone else.  Reformed churches usually see the ministry as teaching elders, men who are called by God and set apart for the work of the ministry, – the ministry of both word and sacrament. At the very least, a communion service should be presided over by the man who has preached the sermon, either in the church service or at the communion itself, and the person presiding should be trained to know what communion is about, and the underlying theology.  

Finally, just to note, the catechist has reminded us of our personal participation in the Lord’s Supper, by stressing the commands of Jesus to his disciples to TAKE and EAT. There is a tradition in the Roman mass to serve the so-called ‘laity’ the communion in one part only. The priest will take the consecrated wafer (they call it ‘the host’ – for reasons we shall discover in a future lesson), and he will serve it to those who come forward to receive it, but only the priest or priests will drink the wine. The wine is in a chalice, and the people will neither see it nor drink it. Now, having learned from our catechism and from the actual words of Jesus, his command to his disciples, that we are to TAKE, EAT, DRINK and so BELIEVE, you can see the Catholic Church’s insistence on withholding the wine from communicants is in direct contradiction to the command of Jesus, reiterated by Paul in 1st Corinthians 11. 

© Bob McEvoy 2023

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