Sound Words: Lest We Forget

Scripture’s description of Christ’s establishment of the Lord’s Table on the night before His crucifixion is full of dramatic truths. By tying the ordinance to the Old Testament Passover (Matt 26:17, 26), He signified His redemption of mankind from sin’s bondage and equated Himself with the Passover’s sacrificial lamb, demonstrating that His death would turn away the wrath of God and effectively end the need for animal sacrifice. By stating that the cup was the New Covenant inaugurated with His blood (Matt 26:27–28), He fulfilled Old Testament prophecies and marked a distinct change in the way in which God would deal with sinful men (Jer 31:31–34). Finally, He set up a perpetual memorial of Himself, giving us symbols representing His body and blood to remind us of Him until He returns (Matt 26:26–29; 1 Cor 11:23–26).

The last of those lessons is probably the best understood: Christ established the Lord’s Table as a “remembrance.” What we often miss, however, is the startling fact that Christ found it necessary to institute a reminder of His suffering on our behalf. What a devastating indictment Christ made of even saved men! Might we forget that Christ lived a perfect life on our behalf? Forget that He bore our sin on His body on the cross? Forget that He suffered the undiluted and infinite wrath of God that we might enjoy His favor? Forget that He was forsaken by His Father so we might be received? Is it possible we could be so ungrateful and distracted?

Indeed it is. Christ knew the frailty and folly of human hearts. He knew we would forget His saving work, and we have proven Him right countless times. Certainly we don’t forget that these events happened in history, but we suffer a practical amnesia when we act as though Christ’s sacrifice for our sins is irrelevant for real life. Even more amazing than our neglect of Christ is that He saved us although He knew we would so easily forget Him. Knowing that we are “prone to wander,” Jesus set up a beautiful reminder to direct our thoughts toward His saving work, past, present and future. The Lord’s Table is a unique gift to the body of Christ. It is an important part of our sanctification—not because there is any particular power in the elements or in the ritual (the error promoted by the Roman Catholic Church), but because the Lord’s Table seizes the attention of a distracted church and makes us “behold the Lamb of God” anew. And gazing on Christ is indeed a sanctifying practice (2 Cor 3:18)!

The gathering of Christ’s church in remembrance of Christ’s work and anticipation of Christ’s return is precious to God—so precious that He commanded its regular observance: “Do this in remembrance of me.” It should be equally precious to us, lest we forget.

_______

“Sound Words” is a monthly column in the OBF Visitor, the publication of The Ohio Bible Fellowship. This article was first printed in January 2008 and is cross-posted from the OBF Visitor blog, where many other articles are posted and may be searched by author, category and keyword. Information on subscribing to the Visitor is available here.

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8 Responses

  1. This reminded me of Psalm 103:14. He knows our weaknesses, one of which is our inability to remember what He has done for us, and He knows that we must be reminded of certain truths on a fairly consistent basis. Its actually a quite comforting thought.

  2. Thanks Chris,

    A good article

  3. Thanks, Chris, for this good reminder for us. I am reminded about how often God had to remind the children of Israel about removing them from the bondage of Egypt and crossing the Red Sea and eventually into the Promised Land (pictures of our own salvation). God certainly knows our frailty as humans.

    A burden that I have is that the celebration of the Lord’s Supper not merely be a tag-on at the end of a service, but be an actual part of the worship in the service.

    When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, one thing that I have done as a Pastor is to focus the entire service on the sacrifice of Christ. The hymns are chosen with that theme; the “special music” is, if possible, on that theme, and my message is as well. For instance, this year I have been preaching through the Suffering Servant Song of Isaiah 53 section by section each Lord’s Supper service. We also remind our folks a week prior to celebrating the Lord’s Supper so that they can begin to prepare their own heart for it.

    Why do you think we choose to have “practical amnesia” regarding the sacrifice of Christ? Is it a lack of personal maturity? A lack of personal discipline? A lack of spiritual leadership driving us to the cross? What do you think?

  4. Lack of devotion??

    This from an Irish Baptist preacher, David Legge, a graduate of Irish Baptist College, the alma mater of Pastor James Kyle Paisley, father of Ian Paisley! (It seems “on track”, tho you discerning men may find some things. At any rate, this thought was worthwhile for me.) The full text can be found free of charge at: http://www.preachtheword.com/bookstore/supper.pdf

    “…we all have an appointment with the Lord at it [the Lord’s Supper]! The implication of that, personally for the Lord Jesus Christ, is that He misses us when we’re not there. We know from Luke [7:45-46] that when the Lord entered Simon’s house, that dear woman broke the ointment
    upon Him and anointed Him, and He turned to Simon and He rebuked him and said, Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet, My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment’.

    If the Lord Jesus Christ missed the Pharisee’s kiss, and the Pharisee’s anointing of His feet with fragrant oil, surely He certainly misses you when you are not around His Table to lavish love on Him that has been absent for so long.”

  5. Good question, Taigen. I’m sure there are various answers. Among them…

    Ministerially, I think are distracted because we prefer to focus on externals which we (foolishly) assume are more life-changing than the gospel.

    Personally (and more basically, I think), I think our traitorous flesh recoils at the notion of Christ’s suffering. We, like Peter in Matthew 16:21-23, we have an agenda which is in perpetual conflict with Christ’s. We want to think of pleasure, not suffering (whether Christ’s or ours). We want to enjoy our sin, and being reminded of its ultimate cost is a grief. As Christ described the problem, we want to think on the things of men rather than the things of God. And I’ll tell you, my conscience says “yea, verily” to all of that.

    All of which makes the “forward” look of the Lord’s Table all the more important. “Come quickly, Lord. Deliver me from me.”

  6. BTW, I like what you’re saying about having the Lord’s Table be the service. That’s been a great blessing to us, as well.

    I’m hoping to start a “Borrowing Brains” post tonight in which I ask for practical helps in making the Lord’s Table more central and our observance of it more intentional. I’ll share some ideas and look forward to reading others, so please check back.

  7. […] on July 24, 2008 by Chris Christ gave the Lord’s Supper to the church as a great gift—a perpetual reminder of Himself, the greatest gift. It’s inclusion in Acts 2:42 as one of the four basic practices of the […]

  8. […] JP: Worthwhile read by Chris Anderson. […]

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