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1 Corinthians 11:26 – In the Lord's Supper we proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
The Lord's Supper is not just a memorial, it is a proclamation. It proclaims a message. By participating, we broadcast a message to everyone around us. What message do we proclaim?
We proclaim the death of Jesus. That death was the sacrifice that provides the means of our salvation.
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. But in order to receive eternal life, our sins must be forgiven by Jesus’ death.
Romans 5:9 – Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
Since we have all sinned, none of us deserve eternal life. We deserve instead to be punished. The only way to receive eternal life is by the death of Jesus that forgives our sins.
We proclaim this past event when we participate in the Lord’s Supper.
In the Lord’s Supper we often say that we should think about the events surrounding Jesus’ death on the cross. Fine. But is that all that we proclaim? The truth is that the Lord’s death is far more than just an event. It is fundamental to the doctrine of the New Testament. Virtually every other aspect of the New Testament ties to the death of Jesus in one way or another.
Proclaiming the Lord’s death proclaims far more than just a historic event. It proclaims the entire gospel which is based on Jesus’ death. So in the Lord's Supper we proclaim the whole gospel and may properly think about any aspect of the gospel that relates to Jesus’ death.
In particular, 1 Corinthians 11:26 itself says that we proclaim more than just a past event. It says we proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. This means that the Lord's Supper looks forward as well as backward. It proclaims a future event as well as a past event.
As we participate, we tell people we believe He will come again as surely as He came the first time. If He is not coming again, there is no point in remembering Him.
Eternal life at the judgment will be granted only to those who have received the blessings of the sacrifice of Jesus (John 3:16).
One of the songs we often sing before the Lord’s Supper says:
And thus that dark betrayal night
With the last advent we unite,
By one bright chain of loving rite,
Until He come.
– “By Christ Redeemed,” George Rawson
What does this mean? The “dark betrayal night” refers to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane which led to His arrest and crucifixion. The “last advent” refers to His second coming. So the song says that the events surrounding Jesus’ death are united with His second coming “by one bright chain of loving rite”: that is, the Lord’s Supper.
Every time you participate in the Lord’s Supper you had another link to that chain. You proclaim to the world that you believe that Jesus offered the sacrifice by which your sins have been forgiven and their sins can be forgiven. And every time you break bread, you tell the world that Jesus is coming again. These two major events are united by the practice of Christians throughout the centuries who participate in this memorial every first day of the week.
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2020
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.