Question 46: What is the Lord's Supper?
Answer: Christ commanded all Christians to eat bread and to drink from the cup in thankful remembrance of him and his death. The Lord's Supper is a celebration of the presence of God in our midst; bringing us into communion with God and with one another; feeding and nourishing our souls. It also anticipates the day when we will eat and drink with Christ in his Father's kingdom.
We have seen previously from 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 that the Lord's Supper calls us to remember the past event of Christ's death for us. It also call us to look around at our fellow believers in the present and reaffirm our covenant unity with them. Finally, the Lord's Supper calls us to look to the future by anticipating the return of Christ.
The future dimension of the Supper stands out most clearly in verse 26, where Paul writes, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." Eating and drinking are acts that proclaim the reality of Christ's death as our hope of salvation, and we are to continue this proclamation until the day he returns. When that day comes, we will no longer observe the Lord's Supper. Anticipation gives way to reality, and thus the Lord's Supper will give way to the marriage feast of the Lamb. But until that day comes, every celebration together at the Lord's Table anticipates that coming day.
When Jesus gave the cup to his own disciples, he said, "For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes" (Luke 22:18). With these words he pictures the kingdom as a place of feasting, joy, celebration, and fellowship with him and each other. May every observance of the Lord's Supper be a small foretaste of that coming day, causing us to cry out, "Come, Lord Jesus!" with joyful anticipation.
Suggested passage for personal or family reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. What does this passage teach about looking to Christ's coming when we partake of the Lord's Supper? How can we partake of the Supper with an eye to the past, to the present, and to the future all at the same time?