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January 6, 2024
"Dead to Sin, Alive to Christ"
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Updated March 15, 2024
"Exercises for Godliness"

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The Lord's supper
[Image copyright Chapter Two, London.
Used by permission.]

Gathered around Christ:
"Do this in remembrance of Me"

Breaking of Bread
Though the bread and the cup must both be partaken of at the Lord's supper, yet it is designated only as the "breaking of bread." Is this not because the breaking of bread speaks of the sufferings of Christ in His body, while the cup is "the cup of blessing which we bless," speaking of the wondrous results for our own souls? For the cup speaks of His blood shed, the sign of accomplished redemption. But the breaking of bread, how it reminds us of the actual sufferings of the Lord Jesus, "Who in His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). And while we may in the Lord's supper speak in measure of the wondrous results in blessing of the precious cross of Christ, yet the emphasis is rather on the perfection of His work in suffering beyond comparison.

How this will draw out the deeper chords of the heart's adoration; for if the higher notes are sounded in the glories of this blessed Person, the lower, deeper notes are voiced in the anguish of His soul unto death, even the death of the cross. Blessed, holy contemplation!

There is no symbol more striking than that of bread in signifying suffering and death. First, the seed falls into the ground and dies: when its fruit is brought forth, the grain is cut down, another picture of death. Then the threshing takes place, and following this the grinding; after which, the flour being mixed with other ingredients, all is kneaded together, typical of suffering in each case. Finally it is exposed to the burning heat of the oven, a type of the dread judgment of God which alone in the darkness our blessed Lord has borne for our sakes. Then man may be blessed in partaking of the bread. Precious it is to know our Lord Jesus as "the Bread of Life," and precious to remember Him "in the breaking of bread."

The Communion, or Fellowship
The breaking of bread is not individual, though individual exercise of soul is to bring us there, and is to be maintained there also. But "the cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion (or fellowship) of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion (or fellowship) of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread" (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). Primarily this precious feast expresses fellowship with the blood of Christ Himself, and with His body given for us, that is, an identification with Him in His death. Let the sacred sweetness of such a fellowship be cherished and valued beyond every other association.

Yet, the apostle immediately applies the term "the body of Christ" to "the Church, which is His body," and insists in this way that the breaking of bread is the central expression of fellowship with this "one body." Therefore, I do not break bread as an individual, but as expressing fellowship with the entire body of Christ, the Church.

If one is exercised by God to desire fellowship with the saints in this precious feast, and of course with the many other privileges of fellowship, it is right and godly that he should request this. And since this is "a fellowship," then he should be satisfied before God that this is the fellowship to which God is leading him; while the assembly also is responsible to be satisfied that the individual is both saved and walking in godliness, free from evil associations.

The Lord's Supper
Who can measure the blessedness of such an expression? It is the Lord's provision, He who is supreme in holy authority, yet has provided in tenderest love, the supper, the last meal of the day, with the shadows failing, on the night of His betrayal. What blessed comfort He took in the affections of His disciples, in this simple repast with them, while the sorrows of death so pressed upon His soul. It is not our supper; it is His. He is the Host, for He is the Lord, whose rights of authority are absolute, Himself entitled to the deepest respect and obedience. It is to His name we are privileged to be gathered; it is He Himself who is to be supremely honored; it is He who invites here, and by whose authority alone His beloved saints are admitted, whose wisdom is to govern the order there, and while governing, to give the purest character of blessedness to such a supper.

In the only place in which this designation is used (1 Corinthians 11:20), how sad to see the grave lack of order which so called for correction. Some felt they could do practically as they pleased, and consideration for one another was forgotten. But since it is the Lord's supper, then there must be an order worthy of the Lord, an order of godly concern and care for all the assembly, and of waiting on God. The Spirit of God guides in subjection to the Lord and in adoration of His name. If in our souls there was such a sense of His being in the midst, as though we could actually see Him there, could disorder possibly exist? Let us encourage one another to cultivate the joy of the knowledge of His own blessed presence as the Host of His own supper, that we may know better His own ordering, and that His name receives supreme honor.

The supper tells us too that a new day is very soon to dawn, for in this we announce the Lord's death "till He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26). Could we rest content at the thought of His coming if we had never obeyed Him in the breaking of bread? Or could we be happy in giving it up before He comes? Do we find our deepest joys in His own presence?

Excerpted from an article by Leslie M. Grant

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