kataggello.org Home Page ||  Table of Contents ||  Communion << Previous || Next >> Thanksgiving
Can We Talk About The Lord’s Supper?
I ask us to reexamine our traditions concerning the Lord’s Supper.


Adoration is a Latin word that could be translated into English as worship, their meanings overlap each other. In Latin it means love given with deep affection. Love being of course the behavior of giving of oneself to another. Affection meaning that one has emotions of liking, enjoying, esteeming, and being pleased by, another. Calling the emotion deep says the affection we feel is not shallow, it isn’t easy come, easy go. So putting together the sense of adoration, we have a deep love expressed toward another in some way. Adoration indicates an action one does, which speaks to the real meaning of adoration: the action of love towards another. It is not just a feeling, it is an action. One can say one adores another, but without the action there is no outwardly expressed reality to the feeling. And that is just very much the case with worship. Jesus spoke of the need for us to worship in spirit and in truth. That kind of worship is an action, the kind of action Paul spoke of in Romans 12:1.

Adoration does have a theological definition. When used in a strict theological sense it means an act of physically humbling oneself to another by bowing down, and kissing their feet or some such act of submission to them. A suggested etymology for the Latin word is that it developed from the religious practice of kissing the hand of a statue, an idol, representing some Roman god, this was an act of pagan worship. The Greek word proskenueo captures this sense, Thayer’s Lexicon explains it as a dog groveling at its master’s feet, wagging its tail and licking its master’s hand. In the strict sense of the word, adoration refers to a ceremonial worship of Christ in the Eucharist. This worship is performed by kneeling, or even lying flat on the ground, prayer, recital of psalms, and hymns.

But the outward never suffices by itself, the inward, the spiritual must be first and foremost. The Catholic Encyclopedia says this:

The primary and fundamental element in adoration is an interior act of mind and will; the mind perceiving that God’s perfection is infinite, the will bidding us to extol and worship this perfection. Without some measure of this interior adoration "in spirit and in truth" it is evident that any outward show of divine worship would be mere pantomime and falsehood. But equally evident is that the adoration felt within will seek outward expression.

This refers us back to the teaching of Jesus in John Chapter Four. God is seeking worshipers who must worship in spirit and in truth. The inner must be present, and is primary. Again, Paul refers to this same thing in Romans 12:1 when he says,

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)

The language of worship is inextricably woven into how we are to live. If we have a conception that worship is something we go do once a week on Sunday, a ceremony we attend for an hour or so, then we don’t understand what worship is. What we do at church, when we gather with other Christians, is the outward expression of the inner reality of our lives. It is easy to divide our lives up into discrete and separate activities: this is work, this is relaxation, this is worship. But that isn’t a true picture of things. That conception of things does give some sense of the difference between the Old Testament activity of the Holy Spirit and what is now the case in these New Testament times. Remember Jesus said that He would, after going away, send the Comforter.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:16-17)

A little further on in that passage, Jesus tells us that it is the Holy Spirit of Whom He speaks,

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

In the New Testament we are taught that God is doing the work of His eternal plan in us, He is fulfilling His “determinate counsel and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23). Believers in Christ are born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. God comes and lives in us, literally. In the Old Testament we don’t find that to be the case. The Spirit of God came upon various people at various times, but never permanently lived in them. This is a worthwhile study in itself, but the only purpose here is to mention how this affects what we now call worship.

In the Old Testament people went to the Temple to worship. There they would perform acts of adoration: prayer, praise, bring sacrifice, give money, all in a ritual and ceremonial fashion. Then they would leave when they were done, the acts of worship would stop and everyday life and activities begin again. In the New Testament that is all changed. Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, God is living in us. Our bodies are now a temple where God is present. Worship is now a way of life. In part this is what Jesus meant when He said,

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:21-24)

Once we understand that worship in the fullest sense refers to the lives we live as Christians it is still useful to use the word worship in that more limited sense of an outward expression. And when we use the word, adoration, it is used in a more limited sense also. Adoration describes those aspects of worship where the focus of worship is upon the Lord directly, and no one else. Adoration in the strictest sense is to be given only to God. Adoration of anyone (or anything) else is idolatry, false, or even blasphemous. At the Lord’s Supper we are in the most literal, and strict sense of the word, adoring Jesus. We set the bread and cup before us and say “behold the body and the blood of the Lord”. I am speaking of Protestants who set out a symbolic memorial, not of Catholic doctrine. The bread and the cup are emblems of His body and blood. Nevertheless, we through these emblems, as though by a picture, are presented with the vision of Jesus, as described in Hebrews,

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9)

We sit then in adoration of the Lord. This is an outward, ceremonial, expression of the inward reality of worship. Here there is praise, prayer, recital of Psalms, hymns sung, thanks given, and in all this, submission to Him. In this way the Son is kissed (Psalms 2:12), Jesus is made much of, He is given the preeminence in the congregation of His people. This is the expression of the deep affection, the love, we hold for Him. So we can say that when we gather for worship, we come to adore the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the aspect of adoration in the Lord’s Supper. It is closely tied to the overall aspect of worship, but it narrows things down a bit to our expression of love to Him. Adoration is a deep part of our communion with the Lord. Communion speaks of mutual relating to one another. Adoration speaks of what flows out from one to that other.

If the Lord Himself was present before us in His body, we would look only at Him, in humble adoration. God Who created us knows our needs, and that the spiritual must at some point necessarily have a physical expression for us. When He took bread, broke it, and passed it, and then took the cup and passed it, with the words “… This do …” He gave us a physical center, a memorial of Himself, that pictures so much of Himself so simply and effectively. We remember His love for us, and we remember the love we are learning to give Him. In the Lord’s Supper Jesus has given us an opportunity to publicly adore Him in our congregations. This aspect is closely tied to God’s purpose that the Lord Jesus Christ have the preeminence in all things. And this is one reason why we say that the Lord’s Supper is God’s work and that we should prefer nothing to it.

©FH 2012

Next >> Thanksgiving

Previous >> Communion

To top of page ||  Table of Contents ||   kataggello.org Home Page