When the son comes to his father, having observed believers participating in the Lord’s Supper, and expresses a desire to learn what the Bible teaches about this ordinance, the father is reminded of the words of Ex 12:26, “What mean ye by this service?” What is the father going to say? It certainly is an excellent opportunity to show the principle of a New Testament doctrine being instituted in the Gospels, (Luke 22:19) practiced in the Acts, (2:41-42, 20:7) and explained in the Epistles. (I Cor 11:20-34)
The father opens his Bible and says again that they must approach the study not to judge the Scriptures by present practices but rather to judge their present practices by the Scriptures. They agree to approach it under the headings: The Precedent Established by the Lord, The Practices of the Early Church, the Purposes of the Breaking of Bread, and the Preparation for the Meeting.
The Precedent Established by the Lord
They turn to Luke 22:19- 20, to the parallel passages in the Gospels and to 1 Corinthians11:23-26. They find that when the Passover had ended and Judas had gone immediately out into the ight, that the Lord, “while He was being betrayed, took bread”. He thus instituted a remembrance, not of a deliverance of a nation from the bondage of Egypt, but rather of individuals being freed from the shackles of sin through the sacrifice of a Greater Lamb, the Lamb of God. To the disciples He said, “This be doing for the remembrance of Me” (literal).
The Practices of the Early Church
In their meditations the father and son remember that the Book of the Acts is really the ‘footsteps of the flock’ and so they peruse that book to see if the injunction of the Lord was indeed carried out faithfully by apostolic believers. They turn first to Acts 2:41-42 and find seven characteristics of the church at Jerusalem. Thev received the Word (conversion), they were baptized (confession), they were added unto them (a called out company), they ‘persevered’ in the apostles’ doctrine (consistent conduct), in the fellowship (the communion), in the breaking of the bread (the contemplation of the Christ) and in the prayers (the cries to the Father).
“They persevered in the Breaking of the Bread.” Nothing could stand in their way because of the importance of carrying out the Lord’s request.
Again in Acts 20:7, the disciples gathered together on the first day of the week to break bread. It is clear from the passage that Paul expected this to be their custom, just as was the setting aside on the first day of the week of their offering for the collection of the saints (I Cor 16:1).
The son has concluded that the early church was diligent in carrying out this ordinance on the first day of each week.
The Purposes of the Breaking of Bread
As they study all the passages they conclude that there are a number of purposes for the ordinance.
1. It Is an Act of Compliance with the Lord’s Will:
The son has read the words, “This do…”. He needs nothing else, no other reasons, for as a young believer he is like the newly converted Saul, who having heard the words, “I am Jesus,” was impressed by a Living Christ, and showed his unqualified consecration in his words, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”
2. It is an Affectionate Calling to Mind
“…For the remembrance of Me”. W.E.Vine points out that the thought in the word ‘remembrance’ is indeed an affectionate calling to mind. The son is impressed and realizes that entering into the significance of this service will rekindle his affection for the Savior, will cause him to remember the cost of his salvation and will cause a reawakening of worship within his soul.
3. It is an Announcement of Calvary
“Ye do proclaim the Lord’s death…”. They have taken down Mr. Vine’s Dictionary again and have found that the word “announce’ (KJV), is the same word as is translated ‘preach’ in a number of places (1 Cor 9:14 and Col 1:28). The son asks if the Lord’s Supper is really a Gospel meeting as well and is told how it sets forth all the truths concerning the death of Christ. As a person sits and observes, he is really hearing the believers proclaim “Christ has died.”
4. It is an Appreciation of the Communion
“The bread which we break, is it not the communion (fellowship) of the Body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (l Cor 10:16-17). They are beginning to see that the bread is not only a symbol of the physical body of the Lord Jesus in which He suffered but that it also represents that fellowship into which they have been brought at conversion.
5. It is an Assurance of the Covenant of Grace
“This cup is the New Covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). They are reminded that one of the great themes of the Galatian epistle and of the Hebrew epistle is the changing of the covenant. The former covenant was based on blood of bulls and goats but this Better Covenant on the Blood of the Lord Jesus. Because His Blood is the ground of the blessings of the New Covenant, the order of the bread and wine is reversed in l Cor 10:16-17.
6. It is an Anticipation of His Coming
“…Until He come”. They see the supper as looking backward to Golgotha in appreciation but forward to the Glory in anticipation. When in His presence, His people will no longer require the emblems for they shall see His face. The son concludes that the supper should have the effect of loosing one from earth and occupying him with eternal realities.
The Preparation for the Lord’s Supper
In the previous covenant, it was stated that three times during the year that all the males were to appear before the Lord. They were commanded, “Let none appear before the Lord empty” (Ex 23:14, Deut 16:16). They were to come with a basket filled and present it to the priest, and share with the stranger, the Levite, the fatherless and then widow. The father points out, not as a criticism but rather as an observation, that many of the believers appear to come to the Lord’s Supper without having had any personal, private meditation, during the course of the week, on the Glory of Christ’s Person nor on the Great ness of His Work on the Cross. As a result they are coming with nothing to present- they are appearing before the Lord empty!
The son wonders how he can “fill his basket” and is told by his father to meditate on the Gospels and discover the Excellencies of the Christ.