Are you able to remember the Lord Jesus often? How prominent a place does that poignant and special memorial, the Lord’s Supper, have in your church life? I ask not because I seek a definitive answer, but in order to encourage reflection on a matter that is not often addressed in evangelical Christian circles.
It ought to be a habit for those of us who are believers in the Lord Jesus to seek to discern first of all what He thinks about a matter, and how important a thing is to our Lord’s heart. We must all confess that we fall far short of that ideal paradigm, that godly filter for our thoughts, and so the Apostle Paul even expressed his disappointment in his brethren in this way: “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (Philippians 2:21).
But if we would enter into the sentiments of our Savior when He asked His disciples to remember Him by the tokens of bread and wine, how might it change our thoughts, our feelings, our practices regarding it? Would the Lord’s Supper then be to our souls an afterthought, or a burdensome ritual, or even an occasion marked by dread and awe* in which leaders seek to maintain order among their followers? My hope is that asking such questions is not a wearying exercise, but rather, that we would be stirred in our hearts to respond to what is still in the loving heart of our Lord Jesus, who is about to come for us, to bring us home to be with Himself forever.
In touching on the subject of that “blessed hope”, the rapture of the church by the returning Son of God (I Thessalonians 1:10 and 4:13-18), we are led in our thoughts to the wonderful revelation the Lord Jesus gave to Paul regarding the remembrance meal He instituted on the night in which He was betrayed. By eating the bread and drinking the cup, we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (I Corinthians 11:23-26 ESV). The Lord asks us to look back to His death in remembrance, while looking forward in expectation to His return for us.
It is not really disputed among Bible scholars that the “breaking of bread” was at least a weekly practice among the early Christians, and several phrases from Scripture looked at in context will bear this out. “They continued steadfastly . . . in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). “Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread . . . ” (Acts 20:7). “When ye come together therefore into one place . . . to eat the Lord’s supper” (I Corinthians 11:20). There are other allusions to its normal frequency, including the Lord’s own words: “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup . . .”
An earnest soul might well ask at this point: “Is it really all that important how prominent or frequent the Lord’s supper is in my Christian experience?” I would only refer such a one back to those words of the Lord Jesus: “As often as . . .” How important is this act of remembrance and proclamation to Him? Did He intend to exercise us to fulfill His heart’s desire? May our hearts answer to what is on His heart, and what He still so vividly remembers in His soul – His atoning death for us.
* (An article in a certain denomination’s online encyclopedia uses the terms “dread and awe” to describe how the “communion service” has been perceived by many historically in that denomination.)