For most of my life, the Lord’s Supper seemed strange to me. I didn’t think it fit with the rest of worship. I grew up going to a very traditional church in a very old, beautiful building with a very austere worship style.
As a young person, church felt something like this . . .
All the adults would file to the front. The pastor would recite some mysterious words, and everyone would file back to their pews.
What also seemed strange is everyone seemed so sad after Lord’s Supper. Was the bread and wine that bad?
Even after I took all the classes and was able to participate in the meal, I didn’t get it. Sure, I could recite all the right answers about Lord’s Supper, but why eat bread? And why drink wine? In the middle of church of all times and places?!
Then I thought about the first time Jesus gave this meal to his disciples. What were they thinking? Did they think it was strange that Jesus was calling the bread his body and the wine his blood? Did this new meal feel out of place for those 12 Jewish men?
I don’t think so.
I believe it would have made complete sense to the disciples. You see, the Lord had been coming to his people through meals for over a thousand years.
God loves to eat with his people!
Over a thousand years before Jesus was born, God’s people, the Israelites, were slaves in Egypt, trapped by a wicked pharaoh. He would not let them go no matter what miracle or plague Moses performed. Finally, God would bring the pharaoh to justice. Pharaoh had killed all the firstborns among the Israelites; now God would take the pharaoh’s firstborn.
But before the Lord came in judgment, he gave Israel a meal. He told them to prepare a lamb to eat. They were to take the blood of the lamb and put it over their doorframes, and God would grant peace to that house as he passed over it.
The Egyptians were judged and suffered. Israel was saved and set free. The Lord then commanded that the Israelites continue to eat the Passover meal in remembrance of God’s deliverance.
In fact, the night before Jesus died, he was eating that meal with his disciples. He wanted them to see that he was the real Passover Lamb. It was his blood that set them free from the slavery of sin. And it was during that Passover meal that Jesus gave them something new: the Lord’s Supper.
Now churches all over the world receive the bread and wine in remembrance of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Do you see all the connections?
When I give the Lord’s Supper to my congregation, I tell them, “Even after the sermon you might not be convinced that your sin is paid for and you have been set free. But now come to the table. Receive Jesus’ body and blood to convince you that you are accepted by God. And when you leave the table, it’s okay to be happy, to rejoice. You have just communed with God!”
The meal no longer seems strange to me. God has always come to his people through meals. Now, I just long for the day that I eat it anew with Jesus in his kingdom.
Pastor Ben Sadler has served as a full-time pastor since 2010. He began his ministry serving a Spanish-speaking congregation in Florida. Since March 2014, he has served at Goodview Trinity Church in Minnesota. He is married to Emily, and they have three children. Ben loves to spend time with his family, ride his road bike, read, write, and preach.
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