A few days ago I talked about the Heidelberg Catechism’s assessment of the Mass. Not surprisingly, Heidelberg’s words (and mine!) generated a lot of heat…and hopefully some light. But there’s a lot more Heidelberg has to say about the Lord’s Supper. For example, Question 75 asks, “How does the Lord’s Supper remind you and assure you that you share in Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross and in all his gifts?” Here’s the answer:

In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat this broken break and to drink this cup. With this command he gave this promise: First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup given to me, so surely his body was offered and broken for me and his blood poured out for me on the cross. Second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the one who serves, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, given me as sure signs of Christ’s body and blood, so surely he nourishes and refreshes my soul for eternal life with his crucified body and poured-out blood.

I am not a prolific crier. I can only think of three or four times I’ve gotten visibly choked up in front of my congregation. But one of those times came while reading this Lord’s Day in preparation for communion. After the service, I had others tell me they had teared up too. The truth here is that precious. It should stir our affections. I love good music in church and rejoice to see God’s people emotionally engaged in worship. But if our emotion is to be truth driven and not just melody driven, we ought to have profound experiences with responsive readings, creeds, and confessions too. Every time we read the Nicene Creed I want to raise my hands in the air (and sometime do). And whenever I read through this Lord’s Day before communion it makes me want to cry with joy.

What good news God proclaims to us at the Table! I fear that in most churches the Lord’s Supper is either celebrated so infrequently as to be forgotten or celebrated with such thoughtless monotony that churchgoers endure it rather than enjoy it. But the Lord’s Supper is meant to nourish and strengthen our weak faith. Have you ever come to church feeling dirty and rotten? Have you ever sat through an entire sermon thinking about how you blew it with your wife that morning or how prayerless you’ve been for the past month? Have you ever got to the end of a church service only to think, “I’m so distracted. I was worried about how I look. I can’t even sit through church right”? Have you ever wondered if God can really love you? If so, you need this gospel table.

The Lord knows our faith is weak. That’s why he’s given us sacraments to see, taste, and touch. As surely as you can see the bread and cup, so surely does God love you through Christ. As surely as chew the food and drain the drink, so surely has Christ died for you. Here at the Table the faith becomes sight. The simple bread and cup give assurance that Christ came for you, Christ died for you, Christ is coming again for you.

Of course, this eating and drinking must be undertaken in faith. The elements themselves do not save us. But when we eat and drink them in faith we can be assured that we receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life. More than that, we get a picture of our union with Christ. As we eat his flesh and drink he blood, we literally have communion with him, not by dragging Christ down from heaven, but by experiencing his presence through his Spirit.

So shame on parishioners for coming to the Lord’s Supper with nothing but drudgery and low expectations. And shame on pastors for not instructing their people in the gospel joy available to us in communion. If you shed a tear at the Table, let it not be out of boredom but out of gratitude and sheer delight.

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Comments:


6 thoughts on “Tears and the Table”

  1. A. Amos Love says:

    Kevin

    Just wondering some more.

    The word communion; What does it mean in the Bible?
    Not from a religious standpoint, or a religious tradition,
    or a religious sacrement, or a religious ritual,
    but what does the Bible have to say about communion?

    And have you ever noticed this,
    In 1st Cor it says, Jesus said,
    “this is my body which is broken for you.”

    But not a bone of His body was broken
    in order to fulfill profecy.

    And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said,
    Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you:
    this do in remembrance of me.
    1Co 11:24

    He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.
    Ps 34:20

    For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled,
    A bone of him shall not be broken.
    John 19:36

    If not a bone was broken;

    What did jesus mean when He said,
    This is my body which is broken for you?

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice;
    and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice.
    If Not Now, When?

    In His Service. By His Grace.

  2. Kevin DeYoung says:

    1 Corinthians 11:24 (ESV): "This is my body which is for you." Some manuscripts have "broken for you", but the textual evidence supports leaving the word "broken" out.

  3. A. Amos Love says:

    Kevin

    Thanks for the responce.

    You spoke of the ESV. There seems to be some contoversey
    about this version. Overly Calvinistic said some.
    Questions about gender neutral and all that.
    Not recommended said some.

    Still like the KJV.

    ED …This of me is the body that on behalf of you being broken…

    GLT …Take, eat; this is My body which is broken on behalf of you…

    HNV …Take, eat. This is my body, which is broken for you…

    KJ21 …Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you…

    LO …Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you…

    MKJV …Take, eat; this is My body, which is broken for you…

    MNT …This is my body, broken for you…

    NKJV …Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you…

    WB …Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you…

    WEB …Take, eat. This is my body, which is broken for you…

    Wes …This is my body, which is broken for you…

    Wey …This is my body which is about to be broken for you…

    YLT …Take ye, eat ye, this is my body, that for you is being broken…

    Be blessed.

    Still wondering,

    What does the Bible (even the ESV) have to say about communion?

  4. John says:

    lots of translations, but more importantly what does the original Greek say?

  5. A. Amos Love says:

    Kevin

    Just wondering some more.

    You said,
    “but the textual evidence supports leaving the word "broken" out.”

    The question becomes – Who’s textual evidence?

    We have multitudes of denominations and translations.

    Some translaters say that “the texual evidence” supports “broken.”
    I think that’s why they included “broken” in the verse.

    Everyone says they are rightly dividing “the word of God,”
    that walking in the truth is important,
    and we all disagree in some or most areas. Hmmm?

    Something I’ve noticed in Christiandumb is;
    We all tend to use the scriptures to validate our lifestyle.
    We can all use the scriptures to prove our point.
    We all use “His word” to protect “our” traditions.

    I can even do that now. Well, at least I think; maybe I can?

    Mt 26:26 And as they were eating,
    Jesus took bread, and blessed it,
    and brake it, and gave it to the disciples,
    and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

    Mr 14:22 And as they did eat,
    Jesus took bread, and blessed,
    and brake it, and gave to them,
    and said, Take, eat: this is my body.

    Lu 22:19 And he took bread, and gave thanks,
    and brake it, and gave unto them, saying,
    This is my body which is given for you:
    this do in remembrance of me.

    1Co 11:24 And when he had given thanks,
    he brake it, and said,
    Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you:
    this do in remembrance of me.

    Each verse is a little different with some things similar.

    In all, He takes, “one” piece of bread, (Don’t know for sure?)
    and broke it and gave it to His disciples to eat.

    Didn’t He take “bread”(His body) and brake it
    into at least “thirteen” pieces?
    Each disciple and Jesus now had a piece of bread; Yes?

    Then He says,
    Mt 26:26 Take, eat; this is my body.
    Mr 14:22 Take, eat: this is my body.
    Lu 22:19 This is my body which is given for you:

    And all the disciples have a piece of “broken” bread; Yes?
    That Jesus is calling (this bread) His body; Yes?

    So, in order to protect my tradition, I will say that
    the “texual evidence” and the “scriptural evidence”
    supports using the word “broken.”

    1 Co 11:24 Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you:

    Believe it or not I had a reason for asking the original question.
    Not knowing that some translations didn’t use the word broken
    your answer took on a whole different line of thought.
    It helped to dig a little deeper. Thanks. Be blessed.

    I’ve wondered about how we, believers, truth seekers,
    can disagree about so much, when it’s all written down.

    I have some thoughts floating around. I’ll be back.

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice;
    and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice.
    If Not Now, When?

    In His Service. By His Grace.

  6. CathyWe says:

    A. Amos,

    Although there was not a bone broken, that does not mean that His body was not broken. If something does not work, we say it is broken. Since He did die, His body was not working, or broken.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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