When Jane has guests for dinner, she often sets the table with her “good” china. She treasures the set because she received it as a wedding gift—but the dishes themselves are rather ordinary, having been purchased at a grocery store in 1979. What makes them special is what they represent, not what they are made of. The same could be said of the Lord’s Supper. This meal instituted by Christ is both common and special. It is composed of the common elements of bread and wine, but it is special for what it represents.
Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper during His last Passover celebration with the disciples. During the meal He changed the traditional liturgy by focusing on the bread and the cup and commanding the church to do the same (see Luke 22:15–20). In 1 Corinthians 11:17–34, the apostle Paul discusses the significance of this supper for the church. It is an act of remembrance which focuses on the Lord’s sacrificial death (vv. 24–25). The Lord’s Supper is also an enacted proclamation of the gospel. When we share this meal together we “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (v. 26).
Paul also describes a communal dimension to the supper. By ignoring their interdependence and eating the meal in a selfish manner, the Corinthian church defiled the sacred meal to such a degree that it was no longer the Lord’s Supper (v. 20). Some became drunk and others went away hungry. They didn’t grasp that a lavish banquet of exotic food was not what made this meal a special event. They missed the point that the focus of the Lord’s Supper is supposed to be Jesus, not the eating and drinking itself. This practice of the church should gather believers to participate together in communion, remembrance, and obedience.
Greg Thornton, interim president and senior VP of Media, asks for your prayers for the Lord’s work at Moody in these changing times. May God’s Word be preached faithfully and the Lord’s name glorified in everything we do at Moody Bible Institute!