Today I’d like to take a brief look at the origins of the Lord’s Table. This act of worship and remembrance obviously goes back to the very start of the church that Christ planted on Earth. But it never hurts to review the origins and reaffirm why we perform this observance faithfully – roughly 2000 years after Christ first established it. The following study I would like to share with you is simply a reminder of why and how it is observed, according to Scripture.

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:26-30)

We can see that the Lord and the disciples were meeting for the Passover meal. The Passover was actually a type, in the Old Testament, of the Messiah’s atoning for the sins of mankind.

The first thing that came to my attention when studying the Lord’s Table is that the unbeliever in the room, Judas Iscariot, was thrust from their presence prior to the Lord breaking bread. Though Matthew doesn’t record it specifically we can compare with the account in John and see how it came about.

Jesus answered, he it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. [A “sop” is literally a “morsel”, usually bread, and dipped in a dish or wine.] And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent He spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night. (John 13:26-30)

Because we read in Matthew as well as the gospel of Mark that Christ and Judas had this exchange prior to the Lord’s Table and then in John we see that Judas “went immediately out”, we can safely discern that the Lord made sure that there were no unbelievers at the table when He performed the Lord’s Table for the first time. So we see that, to the Lord Jesus, it was important that Judas not partake of this meal, as his heart was not right with God. From this example it appears obvious that the Lord’s supper is not something to be shared with the world at large – it is a special observance for the body of Christ alone.

On a side note: People sometimes ask why we use plain, unleavened biscuits or bread. The reason unleavened bread was used is that leaven is a type, a picture if you will of sin. One place in the Old Testament that we see this is in the offerings of the tabernacle which pointed to Christ’s work on the cross. It shall not be baken with leaven. I have given it unto them for their portion of My offerings made by fire; it is most holy, as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering. (Leviticus 6:17)

Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. (Matthew 16:6)

Leaven is clearly a type or picture of sin. Jesus clearly tells us that the bread symbolizes His body. And when He had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. (1 Corinthians 11:24)

Jesus was sinless - For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Leaven pictures sin - Bread pictures Jesus' Body Leavened bread would picture Christ as a sinner. Unleavened bread pictures Christ as being sinless. So if we used leavened bread, then we would be picturing the Lord as having sin. So we see even the type of bread that we use is important to picture the death of The Lord correctly. We must picture Him as sinless.

That being said, it is important to note that we should not make a legalistic approach to this subject. Many people would contend that fermentation in the wine Christ would have used also can be used as a picture of sin or imperfection. As there is no specific commandment in the New Testament to use unleavened bread at the Lord’s Table, we should not make this a point of contention with those who differ in belief. We DO have the Lord’s own example to follow and He used the unleavened bread from the Passover meal.

In Matthew 26:26 we note, first of all, that Christ blessed the bread, broke it and passed it to His disciples. The underlying significance is something that we can easily overlook. The significance of this is that Christ was literally blessing His body being tortured and destroyed in one of the most grotesque ways possible!

In my studying I came across an excellent quote that I will share with you regarding this very thing:
“ How amazing it is that Jesus blessed the bread and gave thanks for it! Jesus, Son of the living God, with full knowledge of the torture that lay ahead of Him, actually gave thanks for the breaking of His body. Just a few hours hence His enemies were going to hammer His holy hands to a tree—yet he gave thanks. They were going to take His feet, which had walked many weary miles in the service of the sons of men, and nail them to a cross – yet He gave thanks. His bruised and broken body was to be bowed beneath the weight of the whole world’s sin – yet He gave thanks! ”

Next the Lord blessed the cup and encouraged the disciples to drink it. And again the significance of this event can be easily lost on us! The pure and sinless blood of Christ was to be shed on the cross. His agony would be beyond human comprehension—still he gave thanks! He gave thanks because He saw beyond the tears, beyond the torment, beyond the anguish and pain to the great multitude, from all walks of life, through all ages of time. He could see them, restored, ransomed, forgiven, healed and washed in His blood, saved from their sins forever. He could see them singing and worshipping God and indwelt by His Spirit for eternity! So He gave thanks for His blood which He would soon shed and the symbol of it, which He shared with His disciples.

Finally, we should note that throughout this entire meal Christ was acting through the joy of serving God, His Father. In Matthew 26:30 it says: “And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.” This hymn would have been one of the Passover hymns from the “Great Hallel” or Hallelujah Psalms. The Psalms sung at the end of Passover, which is what they had just celebrated, would have been Psalms 115-118. These Psalms are full of rejoicing in the salvation of God and His promises and blessings. Christ, as He was preparing to be sacrificed for our sins, may have sung with rejoicing the words from Psalm 118:28-29: “Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee. O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever.”

1 Comment:

  1. Elizabeth said...
    I don't how I missed this post on the Lord's Supper but I really enjoyed it. You brought out some things that I have never heard anybody mention before. How that Jesus gave thanks for the very things that symbolized His suffering and death for our sins. What a wonderful Saviour we have!!

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