Chapter 31 The Participation In The Supper

Take, eat… Drink ye all of it (Matthew 26:26-27).

We read of the institution of the Lord’s feast in the Gospels, the celebration of it in the Acts of the Apostles, and the exposition of it in the Epistle to the Corinthians. In the institution of it, we read how the Lord first took bread, blessed it, and broke it (Matthew 26:26).

The First Mention

One of the most important principles of interpretation is the law of first mention. The first mention of bread and wine in Scripture is in Genesis 14:18: “Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.” Melchizedek is one of the most outstanding types of the Lord Jesus, and here he meets Abraham with bread and wine. Abraham had been in battle, and he was worn and weary with the struggle. But through Melchizedek he is refreshed with bread and wine.

In this, we see a picture of our Lord’s tender compassion for His people’s needs. With Godlike bounty He presents every supply which wasted strength, sinking spirit, and failing heart require. The fight of faith is fierce; the journey of life often seems long. But at every step a banquet house is open, and food and drink are spread. Thus here in His feast there is the spiritual food of His own body given, His own blood shed. Our true Melchizedek invites us to draw near.

If we exclude this incident and look for the mention of the first making of bread, then we would find that in Genesis 18:3-6, where Abraham, visited by the Lord in some human form and with two attendants, thus addresses the central figure of the three: “My Lord… pass not away from thy servant… And I will fetch a morsel of bread… And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.”

The fine meal is the same as that spoken of in the meat offering of Leviticus 2. This fine meal speaks of our Lord’s impeccable character. There are no lumps in that holy character. He comes forth in all the beauty of sinless manhood.

But fine meal, too, is only formed by the crushing of the grain when the grinding mill reduces it to powder. The meal then is kneaded, and this speaks of the persecutions of men—their poundings of our Lord’s holy body. He is the bruised God-Man, broken to make us whole. The kneaded bread was then baked “upon the hearth” of fire, which speaks of our Lord’s bearing the awful wrath of divine justice. Thus we see in picture how our Lord became “the living bread” for our souls.

The Believer’s Participation

In the institution of this feast, our Lord did four simple things with the bread. He took it, blessed it, broke it, and then gave it to His disciples. In doing so He 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.”

The point to note is the believer’s participation in this. He was involved. He was to partake both of the bread and of the wine, and to consume the elements. There is something more in this than simple reflection and remembrance of the historical event of the Lord’s death. The feast was the token of the new testament. The beneficiaries of a testament only receive the inheritance after the testator’s death. All the benefits of the Saviour’s promises thus are now available to believers because Christ has died.

There is a beautiful picture given us in Luke of the believer’s participation in the feast. The disciples said, when considering the passover, “Where wilt Thou that we prepare?” And the Lord Jesus said unto them, “Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with My disciples?” (Luke 22:9-11)

Jerusalem was a hostile city—red already with the blood of the prophets. The heart of the rulers was filled with hatred. They could not pity; they would not spare. “Come,” said they, “let us kill him” (Matthew 21:38). Jesus’ emblems had no charm for them. The altogether lovely One was never lovely in their eyes. The all-precious was counted vile. God’s grandest gift was scorned.

But here, amidst the world’s hostility, was one man who would prepare a place for the Lord in his home. The place was the best he had—a large upper room furnished and prepared (Mark 14:15). So it came to be that in this man’s home the Lord, after beginning the passover feast, moved it into His own remembrance feast as a memorial of His approaching death—fulfillment in Himself of the slain paschal lamb of Jewish history.

Thus are we to partake. The best place in our heart’s affections must be reserved for Him. We must come with hearts made ready. Let us remember that we live in a hostile world—a world full of enmity and hatred toward God’s beloved Son. In the world lies sin’s intense malignity. It is a cage of every foul bird—the nesting place for every impurity. We must loathe that world which slew our Lord and pierced His heart. Away with that which spared not Christ our Lord! Nothing will help believers keep pure and wholesome more than the constant partaking of this remembrance feast. It warms the freezing air of this world. It will help you climb adversity’s hill. It will enable you to struggle with resisting tides. It will revive and invigorate you each time you partake with a true heart. In these days, when the faith of many is found in soft attire, and there is much loitering in slothful ease, oh, let us be like this man in Jerusalem, ready with the best he has for the entertainment of the Lord—a joyful participant in this spread feast of love!

O blessed, living Lord,
Engage our hearts with Thee,
And strike within the answering chord
To love so rich and free!

To know Thy loving heart!
To cleave to Thy blest side!
To gaze upon Thee where Thou art,
And in Thy love abide!

Be this our one desire,
Thyself our object here,
The goal to which our hearts aspire—
To meet Thee in the air.

James Boyd