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Can We Talk About The Lord’s Supper?
I ask us to reexamine our traditions concerning the Lord’s Supper.


Celebrating the Lord’s Supper gives testimony to the Lord through an act of obedience.

The words Jesus used at that last Passover supper when He took bread and the cup, passing them, were: “Take, eat”, “Drink ye” and “This do”. The Church, from the earliest times, has understood those words to be an imperative, as opposed to a mere suggestion. He didn’t say, “Here is something nice you can do if you want to. But don’t worry, you don’t have to if you don’t want to”. No, He said, “This do”. And this comports with the fact that it is part of God’s eternal plan; Jesus was unfolding the plan:

Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. (Hebrews 10:7)

It is possible that some might interpret Jesus’ words, “This do”, as a casual request rather than as an imperative, a command, or the institution of an ordinance for the Church. But if we keep in mind that Jesus was fulfilling Scriptures in all that He did; that He was doing all that was “written in the volume of the book” about Him (Psalms 40, which is also used in Hebrews 10:7); and that these things are those planned by God from all eternity, it is not reasonable to take His words as a mere request. The only reasonable attitude is that which is expressed by that worn old phrase used by fervent soldiers, eager servants, and ardent lovers, “Your wish is my command.” Think how David’s mighty men risked their lives to satisfy their Lord’s offhand wish to drink from that well (2 Samuel 23:15-17). What would we have done? If that isn’t our response we must learn the character and behavior and attitude of piety, fear of God, and obedience to Him. That is God’s plan for us, to be transformed in our thinking, renewed, to put on the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5).

We believe that the Lord’s Supper is part of God’s eternal plan for us to celebrate our Redeemer (See the chapter, “Plan not Improv”). When we think of it this way, the words of Jesus, “This do” have the character of an imperative, traditionally seen to be the institution of an ordinance for the Church. Christ has entrusted to the Church a monument of His death, resurrection, and return, planned before the creation of the world. We, the church are that monument, a living monument: the public display of the Church in tableau, celebrating the Lord's Supper, the Church celebrating the Lord Himself (cf. Ephesians 3:10-11; also: 1 Timothy 3:15b). This actually gives our testimony, given in the form of congregational worship, its character and direction. If one stops to consider how it speaks of the Lord directly—and especially of His death and return, how it speaks of salvation by His sacrifice, how it speaks of our partaking of that sacrifice, and given the context of its institution, its relationship to the passover, and subsequent Apostolic practice, the Lord’s intent is apparent. When we partake of the Lord’s Supper we are doing His will. We must conclude that celebrating the Lord’s Supper is an act of obedience to Him by being the living monument He has created us to be (think about Ephesians 2:10).

Submission is the essence of worship (See the various chapters on Worship). Jesus said, “This do”; doing so is an act of submission. It is an act of devotion. Jesus said in rebuke,

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? (Luke 6:46)

Granted the context was worthiness for the Kingdom, but the point stands that we are called to do as He has said. In an entirely different context the same call to obedience is made:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

We not only are given a command, but we are also commanded to teach others what the Lord’s commands are. Though we agree that Go ye is not quite the same as Thou shalt!, to downplay, or ignore the Savior’s wishes is in no way fulfilling the spirit of, “… Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you …”. What is His cognate wish concerning the Lord’s Supper? “This do”. “Go ye” and “This do”, how alike. But, for your own edification, scan the Gospels for the phrasing that Jesus used to communicate His commands. The words from the previous verse of Scripture, “… all things whatsoever I have commanded you …” tell us He did give commands. We don’t find the Thou Shalt of the Ten Commandments, but instead, Go Ye, This do, Let, and like simple imperatives. His language is direct and personal, and it’s understood that He is telling us what He wants us to do. He didn’t stand up on a mountain and thunder commands down upon the disciples, He walked with them and talked with them. And He called them friends.

The Church has done well to teach that the quiet This do is an ordinance. Because this act of obedience to This do is a positive testimony by the Church in congregation, and by the individual believer. That obedience speaks for itself, without words. The Lord said, “This do” so we do, and the world, and principalities and powers see us obeying (Ephesians 3:9-11). In this way, at the Lord’s Supper, the testimony is made: the redeemed of God, sinners all, are now in celebratory submission to the Lord. This is worship in spirit and in truth. One’s mere presence and participation in the Lord’s Supper, discerning His body and blood, and thus partaking, is a superlative obedience: we are seen in submission to the Lord, and we are seen in humility taking a place in His body, the Church. We are seen in these things as not thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to, but instead assembling as the redeemed of the Lord in obedience to Him, giving thanks and celebrating His excellences. It is a testimony that speaks eloquently and powerfully yet silently in heartfelt submission to one’s Saviour. The sincere acts of eating of the broken bread, and drinking from the cup are better than many words substituted in their place.

Think how the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner saved, think how they rejoice over those saved sinners assembled and bringing glory and honor to their Lord and ours. What words speak better than the silent obedience that must draw praise to God from the heavenly hosts for His wisdom and power displayed in bringing lost sinners to salvation. This is true for all alike, men and women. It is not the speaking of words that is primary in worship. It is submission, obedience, the living testimony to the truth that Jesus is Lord (Romans 12.1). Let us remember that unless one in their heart is in spirit and in truth worshiping, the outward is vain show. Our worship together as the Church, our presence in this memorial feast is only part of our calling. We are not called to a ceremony, we are called unto the Lord Himself,

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:14)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

Paul put it in a way that could also describe how we celebrate the Lord's Supper,

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:15-17)

The upshot of this is that Jesus said, “This do”, so that is exactly what we do. And in doing so as we worship, we give the testimony of obedience to the Lord.

This is why we say that obedience is one aspect of our celebration the Lord’s Supper. Its place in the overall plan of God for us does not displace other good works of all kinds we have been created for. But the Lord’s Supper is one of those good works, it has its reason and its season, it is God’s creation, and we should prefer nothing to it.

©FH 2012

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