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


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. (Matthew 26:26-28)

And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:19-20)

We read that He took bread and the cup, and blessed them, and gave thanks for them. The Greek word translated as blessed is eulogeo to consecrate by asking a blessing upon. Strong’s lexicon tells us that the Greek word means to speak well of, or in other words ask for what we call a blessing. Typically that would include the giving of thanks as well.

The Greek word translated as gave thanks is eucharisteo. Strong’s lexicon tells us that it means to be grateful for, or, to give thanks for something, expressing gratitude. The root of the word means gift, the prefix means good. The word as constructed and in usage means essentially to give thanks for the good gift. This is where the Lord’s Supper gets the name Eucharist.

Here we see the Son, being grateful for the good gifts of God, and giving thanks to the Father. This is what we are to be like. Jesus is our pattern in all things, we are to imitate Him, in fact our predestination is to be conformed to His likeness. That will happen when we see Him because we shall see Him as He is. Jesus is thankful, so also we are to be thankful.

Thankfulness is given important status in the Bible. Thankfulness is especially enjoined upon Christians. Beside being our due to God, it also has benefits to us. For example, Paul told Timothy,.

For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: (1 Timothy 4:4).

He means that there are no unclean foods, not even those meats which were sold in the shambles: To the Corinthians Paul wrote,

Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. (1 Corinthians 10:25-27)

Typically these foods were from sacrifices to idols. The only reason to not eat them was if that became the issue,

But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: (1 Corinthians 10:28)

Giving thanks and blessing the food makes it acceptable and good. This speaks to the value of blessing and thanksgiving. Paul says this explicitly to Timothy when he wrote,

For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:4-5)

On the other hand Paul wrote about those who are not thankful to God, he wrote to the Romans,

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Romans 1:21)

What need be said further, if one neither gives God glory nor thanks what else can result. Our calling is to to both give God glory and thanks, Paul wrote,

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

It is God’s will that we be a thankful people. We take this as a command rather than a mere suggestion. We take this as from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and are put in mind of His "Great Commission" given to the disciples in Matthew 28 when He said,

… teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.

We understand that we are to teach the giving of thanks and to inculcate an attitude of thankfulness to God in all things.

Of all things that we are thankful for we are most thankful for the Lord Jesus Christ. At the celebration of the Lord’s Supper the Church gives thanks to Him, and for Him, and for our redemption and sanctification through His body hung on the cross, and His blood shed for our sins. This thankfulness expressed at the Lord’s Supper is so great that it has become one of the names for it. Catholics call it Eucharist, thanksgiving, which in it we do give thanks to God especially because of His creation, redemption, and sanctification. Eucharist means in Greek the giving of thanks, for a good gift. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper it is with thanksgiving for His free gift of eternal life, which is a very good gift indeed. But we are to be especially thankful for the Lord Jesus Himself, for His own sake. Thanksgiving is characteristic of the Lord’s Supper for Catholics and Protestants alike, but Protestants don’t usually refer to it as the Eucharist.

To partake of the Lord’s Supper is to give thanks to God, both as a congregation in communion together, and as an individual. Only those who rely upon His sacrifice are able to give thanks for this good gift. Only those who know Him and are His can truly give thanks to Him. This thanksgiving is a priestly act, expressing the priesthood of all believers. Thankfulness and thanksgiving, these are the attitude and the action of celebrants of the Lord’s Supper. Partaking of the Lord’s Supper is not only an act of giving thanks by both the Church and the believer, it is the public proclamation of that thanksgiving, the Church is seen to be thankful, giving a good testimony, being a faithful witness. And there is a sense of a sacrifice of thanks offering of praise. Confessing our need and professing our salvation naturally leads us to the giving of thanks to our God and Savior.

Phillip Schaff speaks of worship as the “subjective offering of the whole congregation on the ground of the objective atoning sacrifice of Christ”. And he says this is, “the real center of Christian worship and particularly communion.” Celebrating the Lord’s Supper is an act of thanksgiving to the Lord for His sacrifice. It is thanksgiving and praise to the Father and the Son. Here we give a sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving, joining the whole Church, for all that God has made: good, beautiful, and just, in creation and in humanity (a Catholic phrasing). We give a sacrifice of thanksgiving, a blessing to God, expressing our gratitude to Him for all His benefits in all of His creation, but in particular for our redemption and sanctification through the death of His Son. It is a sacrifice of praise by which the Church sings the glory of God, Who through Christ unites us to Himself. Thanksgiving is praise for His intercession. Praise is offered to the Father through Christ, and with Christ because we are accepted in Christ. It is a time of thanksgiving, acted out in a living memorial, by our deeds of eating the bread and drinking from the cup, not by word only, but by obedience to His request, “This do”.

The center, or focus, of our worship is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and Him crucified. It is with Him and by Him that we have communion with Himself and the Father, and with one another. The atoning sacrifice of Christ is the entire ground of our faith, our fellowship, and hope. We give thanks not only for the spiritual gifts, but also the natural gifts of God to us. We are giving thanks at the Breaking of Bread for that self-sacrifice by Christ on the cross for our salvation. But there we also give thanks for the natural gifts of life and sustenance and all of the creation that we enjoy. Our thanks culminate in thanksgiving for the offering of Jesus made on the cross, making possible the spiritual gift of God which is eternal life given through Christ. So when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we are giving thanks for all things, but for the Lord Jesus Christ preeminently.

We take the earthly gifts of bread and wine as types and pledges of the heavenly gifts of God Who has both created and redeemed the world. He said “… do this in remembrance of Me …”, remember My promise. The picture we have been given is one of earthly sustenance, food, that speaks of spiritual sustenance, redemption. Both the earthly and heavenly gifts of God are good. But the earthly will perish while the heavenly are eternal. In the Lord’s Supper we acknowledge that we have taken the eternal gift of salvation, we remember that, we remember Him, just as He told us to. For that gift we are thankful, in remembrance, communion, and thanksgiving we offer the sacrifices of praise and renewed self-consecration to the Lord. In response, thankfully, we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) by renewed self-consecration to Christ because of His sacrifice on the cross: He first loved us. He has given us good gifts for which we are thankful. We in return want to yield ourselves as a priestly race and as a living thank offering to God, to Whom we owe all the blessings of providence and grace.

Paul wrote to the Romans,

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the compassions of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your intelligent service. (Romans 12:1)

Presenting a sacrifice to God is the act of a priest. We are called priests by the Lord. The time of remembrance in the Breaking of Bread implies this priestly offering exactly because we are communing with our Lord. Thankfulness leads to the giving of thanks which leads to the sacrifice of praise and of yielding ourselves to God. We are working out our salvation here, Paul wrote,

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

As we remember the Lord in the Breaking of Bread we are also remembering these things that are His good pleasure for us: that we are redeemed, created unto good works and predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His only begotten Son, Jesus. As we remember these things we are thankful and in return are urged to that renewed self-consecration to Jesus because He first loved us. There is an ancient prayer that expresses this,

All we brothers and sisters pray that, my sacrifice and your sacrifice, our sacrifice may be meat for the Lord.

Thankfulness expresses itself in the giving of thanks. In the Old Testament one brought a thanks offering to the priest at the Tabernacle. But now we have come unto Christ Himself, God in the flesh, reconciling the world unto Himself by His death on the cross. We bring our thanks offering to Him. That offering is ourselves, our obedience through remembering Him as He asked us to by the breaking of bread and passing the cup; our thanks offering is offering ourselves as living sacrifices to Him; and not only by words of praise. The inner and outer must agree, it must be worship in spirit and in truth. We will do well to think about this and examine our conceptions of what the Breaking of Bread really is and how we will celebrate it. Just as we memorialize the sacrifice of Christ with thanksgiving, our thanksgiving also implies sacrifice offered to the Lord by us (Romans 12.1).

So many today have almost entirely banished the idea of sacrifice from the Lord’s Supper. And indeed have almost nearly banished the Lord’s Supper itself, making of it no more than a mere occasional memorial ritual, thereby continuing the comforting and pleasing, if quaint, traditions from the past, but which if done too often would become tiresome and trite.

God has given us the Lord’s Supper both to honor His Son, and to lead us to honor His Son, and that not in the least by the giving of thanks. It is a part of His “determinate counsel and foreknowledge” by which He has purposed to give the Lord Jesus Christ the preeminence in all things, and a means by which we may do so when we assemble for worship. In contrast to the thankless attitude Paul spoke of in Romans 1:21 we have four doxologies from Peter, Paul, Jude, and John:


But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)


And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:18)


Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25)


And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:5-6)

The Lord’s Supper is a time of thanksgiving that leads us to meditate upon God’s good gifts to us. And in particular it is a time for us to, with thanksgiving, give Jesus the preeminence which is rightfully His. And as we think on these things, calling them, and Him, to our remembrance, we are filled with a gratitude that leads us to return to Him a sacrifice such as He desires from us, that we return His love to us by our love to Him. He once asked why though He was called Lord by some, that they didn’t do those things that He said. Giving thanks at the Lord’s Supper we call Him Lord, and we are urged to seek to do those things He has said. For this reason we call the Lord’s Supper, God’s work. And we should prefer nothing to it.

©FH 2012

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