We will now cover the last part of our little study. The question before you is a very simple one. When will we stop eating the Lord’s Supper? Well, this, of all the questions, is the easiest.
We are told in 1 Cor. 11:26, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” As we celebrate the Supper, we are proclaiming His death until He comes.
So we will continue to have the Supper until either we die or until our Lord comes back. This is a practice which we will celebrate for the rest of our lives or until history as we know it ends (which ends when Christ comes back). Most people will have little problem with any of this. They will say, “Of course we do it until He comes back or until we die.” Yet, is there any significance to this?
Having the future in mind
The Lord’s Supper is closely tied to the past event (the Supper represents what Christ did), to the present (the present fellowship we have with Him at the Supper), and also to the future. It is something we easily overlook. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1 Cor. 11:26)
We sometimes focus so much on the present benefits of the Supper that we fail to consider how they relate to the future. We are to remember that He is coming back. Each time we celebrate the Supper, we are reminded that what we experience now will not continue indefinitely. The joy, sorrows, pain, pleasure, etc. will all come to an end. Christ is coming back.
We are not communing with Christ at the Supper only to just get along in this life. The present fellowship at the Supper is also a reminder that one day, we shall see Him face to face. The sacrament will give way to reality; the sign to the person to whom it pointed.
I will not drink again… until that day (Mt. 26:29)
When our Lord commanded that the Supper be celebrated (that is, when He instituted the Supper), He said, “I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Mt. 26:29) This was Jesus’ way of saying farewell to them (though they didn’t fully realize it at the time) since He was about to die. But He was also promising them something. He will have table fellowship with them in the future. Their present fellowship will be renewed in our Father’s kingdom.
So, at the Supper, we have the promise that one day, we shall fellowship with our Lord face to face in our Father’s kingdom. Each time we celebrate, we are not only recognizing that He will return but that Supper is also an emblem of the future fellowship we will have with our Lord. Of course we have present sweet fellowship with Him at the Supper but we must also remember that this present fellowship is only a taste of the great table fellowship to come.
This promise is made several other times. The Bible speaks of the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9), reclining at the table with Abraham (Mt. 8:11), and reclining at the table of the kingdom of God (Lk. 13:29). Table fellowship is the picture of the great intimacy we have with our Lord.
We should yearn for the great Supper to come. As we enjoy the sweet fellowship with our Lord at the Supper, we should also remember that this is just a small taste (albeit satisfying) of the great Supper to come.
In the mean time…The Cross
With the future in mind and with the promise of the future fellowship in our hearts, we are to “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” What characterizes the Supper and our lives is the importance of the death of Christ for our present lives.
The death of Christ is our food, our nourishment. It sustains us as we wait for the coming of our Lord. It is the subject of our preaching. From it come the benefits of the Lord’s Supper. Because of Christ’s death, we live and because of its rich worth (its sufficiency), we have peace with God.
One of the important things about the Supper is that it makes Christ’s death central to our lives. Our Lord wants us to continually look at the past event for our present benefit. He has done it all. At the Supper, we come empty because His death has paid everything for us. Our hunger is satisfied by the benefits of His death.
Because the death of Christ has fully accomplished our redemption, we are reminded of it over and over again each time we have communion. As we proclaim His death until He comes, we are at the same time reminded that the one who loved us not only died for us but that He will come back to us because He loves us.
Not in Heaven
Needless to say, there will be no need for the Lord’s Supper in heaven because everything that the Lord’s Supper points to and gives (signifies and exhibits), we receive in the person of Christ in heaven. The Lord’s Supper is temporary but necessary. It is like a lifesaver one wears when shipwrecked. Once we reach the shore, we no longer need it.
What this means is that the Lord’s Supper is the next best thing to heaven. Here in the Supper, we fellowship with Christ truly and spiritually. In heaven, we fellowship with Him personally, really, and perpetually. The same Christ is received but we get Him that much better in heaven.
In the Supper, the Lord gives Himself to us. What more can we ask? Let us prepare well, receive well, and afterwards, by faith reflect well. This will fill our course of life until we die or until Christ comes back.
If we cannot enjoy Christ at the Supper, then what are we looking for? If He is our chief delight and we enjoy genuine fellowship with Him at the Supper, then we are assured that this Supper will turn into the final Supper. What we have received by faith shall fill our souls by sight. Come Lord Jesus!
1. How long will believers partake of the Lord’s Supper?
2. What does the future have to do with the Lord’s Supper?
3. What did the Lord promise about the future when he instituted the Lord’s Supper?
4. What does it mean to “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes”?