Simple Papers on the Church of God: Part 20, the Institution of the Supper

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In Matthew and Mark we read of His blood shed "for many." In Luke it is "for you." This makes the announcement more personal and pointed; and he is the only one of the four who tells us that the Lord spake thus, both at the giving of the bread and at the giving of the cup. Were the eleven then distressed at the prospect of His death? How fully would He comfort them by the institution of the supper. They were never to forget His death, yet their remembrance of it would have no tinge of sadness in it. It would give joy to their hearts; for atonement and redemption were effected by it, and forgiveness and justification flowed from it, all of which they would learn after that the Holy Ghost should have come to set forth the blessed results of His death, and to teach them, and us of what the Lord's presence on high is the witness.
Learning then, as they must have done from the Lord's lips, what He thought of atonement by His blood, they also were taught how He would have them remember Him. " This do in remembrance of me." Here again we are reminded that God's thoughts are not as our thoughts. Men love to dwell on great and noble deeds of others done in their life. The Lord's people were especially to remember Him in His death, and as dead; for the bread and the wine recall Him as actually dead, the former being the symbol of His body, and the latter of His blood, which in the supper is viewed as distinct from His body. Hence communion in one kind is a denial of the Lord's death, for it regards the blood as not shed. It virtually presents Him to us as alive before death, in which case atonement has not been wrought: there is no forgiveness for our sins (Heb. 9:2222And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. (Hebrews 9:22)), and the Lord abides alone. (John 12:2424Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24))
But not only were those who had been with Him on earth thus to remember Him. All His people, from that day till the Church shall be taken, are in the same manner to remember Him. His enemies in the world would rejoice that He was dead (John 16:2020Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. (John 16:20)), hoping thereby to have got rid forever of Him whom they contemptuously called " that deceiver," ὁ πλάνος (Matt. 27:6363Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. (Matthew 27:63)), little knowing that they had, by their rejection of the Christ, paved the way for the appearance by-and-by of "the deceiver" indeed, ὁ πλάνος, the antichrist. (2 John 77For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. (2 John 7)) All the Lord's people too would rejoice that He had died after He had risen again, reaping as they would the abiding fruits of His atoning death—sanctification, forgiveness, justification, and entrance into the holiest by His blood.
But when, and how often they were thus to remember Him the Lord does not specify in His word. We gather however from it when they met for that purpose; viz., on the first day of the week. (Acts 20:77And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. (Acts 20:7)) At first it may have been that each day they broke bread together. Afterward it certainly was done on the first day of the week, and for that special purpose did they at Troas assemble together. Prayer, preaching, teaching, are all useful and needful, but they do not supersede the necessity of meeting to break bread. When thus met there may be room for teaching. The Lord, after the breaking of bread, spoke what we have in John 14, if not also what is stated in chaps. 15. 16. And St. Paul at Troas discoursed for a long time when the company were assembled for the breaking of bread. Yet the purpose for which they came together was not to hear Paul, but to show the Lord's death. Bearing this in mind, we shall not go to the Lord's table to hear some gifted teacher, but to break bread in remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ. Gift or no gift will make no difference as to the motive which will take us to that meeting. We shall go to remember Him who once entered into death to save us. Edification by gift all should be thankful for, but the absence of it will keep none away from the table who know for what reason we are to assemble.
And how often can we thus meet? No limit is placed to this; and a word of the Lord, only preserved by St. Paul, makes this clear: " This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me."1
At what period of the day should we break bread? some may ask. This too is left an open question. The supper was instituted in the evening. They met on that occasion at Troas at night. Probably the Corinthians too came together when the day had declined (1 Cor. 11:2121For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. (1 Corinthians 11:21)); for the term δεῖπνον, translated there supper, is not used in the New Testament of a morning meal. In Luke 14:1212Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. (Luke 14:12) it is clearly used of the meal which succeeded dinner. But no rule is laid down as to the hour when we are to break bread, though the first day of the week is marked out as the one specially suited for that, on grounds which all can readily understand. But, how often besides Christians may break bread, is left to the Lord's people to decide as they may be guided.
And now, ere concluding this article, a little verse, found only in Matthew (26: 30) and Mark (14: 26), but word for word the same in both, must receive a moment's attention: " And when they had sung an hymn, they went out to the mount of Olives." If ever there was an occasion on which common sorrow might have outweighed common joy at the remembrance of the shelter from divine judgment by blood, it would have been on that evening when the Lord eat the last passover with His disciples. But instead of that, ere they left the upper-room they sung together to God; a hint for us, that no sorrow of whatever character is to override the heart's joy, which flows from the remembrance of redemption. Their sorrow on losing the Lord was great (John 16:66But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. (John 16:6)), and He knew it; but their joy, as they recalled God's interposition on behalf of Israel, was nevertheless to be expressed. So surely should it be with us. Troubles and sorrows, whether individual or otherwise, are not to be allowed to outweigh the common joy, when we meet to show the Lord's death.
Thus far we have been considering Scriptures which tell us why we should break bread, and how, we should do it. Other Scriptures give us practical teaching in connection with it. A consideration of these must be reserved for the following paper.
C. E. S.