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05/11/2014

The Body and the Blood

I recently read an interesting article by pastor Kim Riddlebarger on the Lord’s Supper.  His premise is simple: we should celebrate the Lord’s Supper more frequently than once a month or once a quarter.  In fact, there is good reason to believe that the Supper was a regular part of every worship service on the first day of the week for early Christians.  In turn, we should make the Supper a part of our regular worship in order to reap the benefits of this sign of the new covenant.

One recurring theme throughout the article is the classic Reformation concept that we are nourished through partaking of the

Last Supper by Lucas Cranach the younger

Last Supper by Lucas Cranach the younger

elements of the Supper.  Thus, the meaning behind Jesus’s words in Luke 22:19-20:

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

We are to feast on Christ as we take the meal because He is our source of spiritual strength.  Theologians of many different backgrounds formerly used the term means of grace to talk about these benefits which we derive from Jesus.  Like the preaching of the Word, baptism, and prayer, the Lord’s Supper is a means by which we know God’s grace through Christ.

Riddlebarger reminds us that we might be weak and broken spiritually because we fail to practice the Supper frequently.  Both the testimony of Acts and the history of the early church indicate that the Supper was a part of the apostles’ teaching on Christian worship.  There is also reason to believe that we might also suffer physically in our bodies if we fail to celebrate the Supper or practice it in the wrong way (1 Cor. 11:27-32).

So, in the words of Michael Card, let us “Come to the Table”:

The bread is His body, the wine is the blood


And the one who provides them is true


He freely offers, we freely receive


To accept and believe Him is all we must do

For Further Study

Riddlebarger, Kim.  “The Reformation of the Supper” from Always Reformed: Essays in Honor of W. Robert Godfrey (Westminster Seminary California)

 

 

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