The Lord has prepared a Table for us, and this Table is like all His other works—beyond marvelous. The Table is set simply—red wine and simple bread.
The Lord teaches us that this bread represents His body, broken for us. This wine represents His blood, shed for us. His physical body was broken outside Jerusalem two thousand years ago, but His mystical body is gathered here in this room. We are knit more closely together in that body as we, in love, partake of these elements that are, strictly speaking, not His body. But we are, strictly speaking, His body, and He is the Head of it.
The Bible also teaches that the body and blood of the Lord was a ransom payment (Mark 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:6). This payment was made, not to the devil, but rather to the holy wrath of the Father. This is how we were redeemed. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:18-19). So Jesus Christ died as a propitiation, turning aside the wrath that we entirely deserved (1 John 2:1-2).
We come to this meal in grateful anticipation of what God has in store for all those who love Him, and who love His appearing. In this meal, God gives us Himself, but He does it by giving us tokens of what shall be.
The marriage supper of the Lamb, at the great consummation of all things, will be a meal that we will experience with all five senses, and probably some other senses we didn’t know we had. God is giving us Himself here, and we rejoice in it, but in another important sense, He is just tiding us over. The meal that is to come will be staggering beyond anything we could hope to comprehend now.
We are to avail ourselves of the means of grace that God sets before us, and as we do, we are to wait on God to perform what He intends to perform. We have come to this Table having confessed our sins, having sung our gratitude to God, and having heard His Word proclaimed. We now come to the next means of grace, which is the Table before us now.
Since His purpose is the salvation of the world, and since His Spirit is gathering multitudes into His church, we can trust that His purposes are for our good and not for our destruction. We come, as we are told, and we wait for God to do what only God can do. We wait on Him in faith, and He strengthens us.
Our task is to gather, to worship, to listen, to take, and to eat and drink. This is how God has determined to give the nations of the world to His Son, and so we should be about His business.
The world was conquered in the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. The world was given to Jesus by the Father on that basis, and for that reason. Our worship, our evangelism, our commission is all part of the giving, and not part of the conquering. The conquest is done, and Jesus is Lord.
He is crowned as the King of all kings, and as the Lord of all lords. He is not campaigning for support. He is not angling for some parliamentary position. Jesus is Lord, I tell you.
As we come to this Table this morning, remember—as you should remember always—that this is the Table of the new covenant. We talk a great deal about what is meant by covenant—a glorious word. But we should also reflect on what is meant by the word new. How can a ritual that we perform every week remain fresh? The answer is found in that word new.
One sense of the word new means that it just arrived. It is a chronological term. If you bought the dress or the book yesterday, you say that it is new. Or if you bought a used car, you say that it is new to you. But if something is three hundred years old, very rarely will you call it new.
As we observe the Lord’s Supper every week, you will have noticed that we begin with the presentation of our tithes and offerings. This Table is a table of thanksgiving, and we know of no better way to tangibly express our gratitude to God than by means of our tithes, our offerings, and our gifts. We are imitating Him. He loved us—to the breaking of His body, and the shedding of His blood. We seek to make our gifts an imitative sacrifice, and that is why we do it here.
What is the difference between tithes, offerings, and gifts? The tithe is God’s tax—and the fact that it is likely the only just tax you have ever paid should not make you shy away from calling it a tax. The Almighty God requires ten percent of your increase as His tribute; the fact that the ever-grasping state demands much more than that tells you everything you need to know about just who exactly they think they are. We will know that our leaders are repentant when they refuse even to think about taking more than God requires.
The Scriptures instruct us about the spiritual condition of the early church in Jerusalem, during the time when great grace was upon them.
“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46-47)
They gathered with one accord. They broke bread from house to house. They ate together with gladness and simplicity of heart. They did not over-engineer it. They just ate together, loving each other. As they lived in good fellowship this way, they had good favor from those who were outside the church. This good favor is not something you can get by “managing your brand”—it has to be the gift of God. And as a consequence of this, the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
The Scriptures teach us that we must not automatically assume that affliction is the result of God’s chastisement for sin. The friends of Job made a serious mistake in this matter, and the disciples of the Lord, who wanted to know who had sinned—this man or his parents—such that he was born blind, made the same mistake.
So we must not reason simplistically in a straight-across fashion like this. But when we learn that affliction is sometimes not the result of sin, we leap to the false conclusion that affliction is never the consequence of sin. That is not true either. God is not mocked and a man reaps what he sows.
But you are a child of God. If you are here under affliction, and you suspect that unconfessed sin may be at the bottom of it, never forget that the love of God is at the ultimate bottom of it.