The Lord’s Supper: A Means of Grace
When Christians assemble together on the first day of the week we do it for many different reasons. We come for learning and encouragement. We come to sing and to pray. We come for these things and more, but at the center of our worship is the Lordʼs table, a meal that Jesus himself instituted. Although we are different, we gather around the Lordʼs table as equals. We come from different backgrounds. We are rich and poor, black and white, democrat and republican, male and female, but when we gather around the Lordʼs table none of these things matter. We are one. We are united as the body of Christ. This is how it was from the very beginning. We know from Paulʼs letters that both masters and slaves met at the table. At the last supper a tax collector and a Zealot sat down and broke bread together.
The world looks at this and says it is impossible. The world seeks to drive wedges between us. The world says a master and slave are not equals. The world says that the Zealot must hate the tax collector, and the tax collector must hate the Zealot. When we gather around the table it looks different from anything we have seen in the world. This is because it is the Lordʼs table. We take our minds off worldly things and worldly cares and we focus on Jesus. Jesus and his sacrifice is at the center of this meal. It is not about social status or keeping up appearances. It is about something Jesus did for us. He humbled himself and came to earth. He lived simply, helped others, and willingly went to the cross on our behalf.
When we come together to break bread and partake of the cup we must not take it lightly. Some have viewed this act of worship as only a matter of obedience. It is an act of obedience, but it is also much more. It is the foundation of what we believe. We are a people who were lost, but have now been saved. Without the sacrifice of Christ we are nothing. This weekly meal is the foundation of our identity. We are a people who belong to Jesus. He is our Lord and Savior. He gave his life for us, and we now give our life to him. We are reminded of all these things each time we come to the table.
The Lordʼs Supper is a meal with both a past and a future. It has roots in Judaism and the Passover. It is a meal that looks all the way back to Egypt and how God rescued his people in that foreign land. It is a meal that commemorates the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. However, it is also a meal that looks forward. Throughout the book of Luke we are reminded of the importance of meals, and one of the meals that Jesus often speaks about is the meal that we will enjoy together upon his return. The observance of the Lordʼs Supper is an act of hope. We do it with one eye looking toward the past and one eye looking toward the future. Jesusʼ plan of redemption began at the cross, but it will not be complete until he returns. On that glorious day all things will be made right. The whole creation will be redeemed and we will dwell with God and Jesus forever.
Once we have participated in the breaking of bread and partaking of the cup it would be a mistake to think that was the end of it all. It would be wrong to think we have nothing left to do until next week. Once the meal is over we should not leave without ever giving it another thought. The Lordʼs Supper should go with us out into the world. It should shape the way we act and behave. It should remind us of who we are and how we are to live.
The Lord’s Supper is a means of grace. It is a privilege to come together around the table each Lordʼs day. There is not a person who deserves their place at the table. None of us has earned a spot. We come to the table knowing we are unworthy. We come to the table as flawed men and women who are trying their best to serve a holy God. It is only because of Godʼs grace that we are given a spot at the table.
What we celebrate at the table is a sacrifice that none of us deserve. Paul tells us in Romans 5:8 that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. The grace and mercy of Jesus is the only thing that makes the meal possible. God could have given us death, which is what we deserve, but he did not. We are alive today because of Christ. We are free from the bonds of sin because of Jesus. We are forgiven because of the sacrifice he made. At the heart of all of this is the doctrine of grace.
When we gather around the table we are enjoying the benefits of God’s grace. God has given us what we do not deserve. He has forgiven us by sending his only begotten Son to die on the cross. That is grace! But grace does not end at the sacrifice of Jesus or at the table. Grace is something we are to imitate. It is something we are to take into the world. We are to treat the people around us, not as they deserve, but with grace. We are to do to them as God has done to us. We are to show mercy and favor. We are to forgive them even if they do not ask to be forgiven. It is our responsibility as Christians to take the ethics of the table out into the world, and to live in a way that is different from everyone else.
When we leave worship we must remember the table. We must remember the sacrifice and everything that Jesus has done for us. We must remember that the table points to a better future upon the horizon. We must remember the table as we interact with other human beings who have been created in the image of God. They may be mean. They may say things we do not like. They may treat us unkindly, but before we give them what we think they deserve, we must remember the table. We must remember that not one of us deserves our spot at the table, but God continues to invite us back each week.