by J. Randal Matheny, editor
The meaning of the Passover feast was to be explained to the children. It served as a memorial and a teaching tool for new generations.
Moses gave these instructions to Israel:
“And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses'” (Exodus 12:25-27a ESV).
The history behind the moment of the Passover feast is what gave it significance.
When, during the Passover feast, Jesus established his memorial meal for his disciples, he took pains to explain its meaning. That explanation is recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and 1 Corinthians. With simple words of profound meaning, Jesus invested the Passover bread and cup with new symbolism. It was to be a supper of the new covenant, with a new sacrifice, celebrating a new deliverance from slavery.
As the first Passover meal anticipated rescue from Egypt, that first supper with the Lord looked forward to the impending crucifixion, but for the first and last time. The second and subsequent suppers would look backward to the accomplished act, the realized event, to remind the saved of the price that was paid.
When the Corinthians forgot the meaning of the Lord’s supper, Paul took pains to explain it to them in 1 Corinthians 11. There is little doubt that his letter was read during the church’s meeting and likely before the supper was eaten. Instead of the factious suppers being moments to exalt their favorite apostle or preacher, we might hope that they came together again to celebrate their one Lord and common salvation, with the apostolic instructions and the very words of Jesus constantly ringing off the walls.
In the early days of the American church, it was common to proffer a meditation before the supper./1 In congregations around the world, such as in Brazil, Christians still hear a passage read and comments made before prayers are said and the bread and wine is served.
We have good precedent, therefore, for reading a passage of Scripture and for explanations and meditations as we gather around the Lord’s table.
If, as we often teach, the main purpose of the church’s meeting together on the first day of the week is to eat the Lord’s supper (Acts 20:7), then the brother does well who not only prays at the breaking of bread, but who reflects upon its meaning for the church.
Instead of timing the passing of the trays, let us linger at table with thoughts of the cross.
Rather than rushed and murmured prayers, let us tarry over the delights of salvation.
Instead of dashing through a weekly rite, let us dwell upon the variegated grace of God evident in the suffering of his Son.
By a well-prepared meditation, we can appreciate more deeply the Supper. Wise words spoken during the Supper make it even more of a spiritual moment. A brief reflection based upon a biblical text renews appreciation for that once-for-all redemption acquired at Calvary.
Let words be spoken, then, at the Lord’s Supper. Let time be given to enriching our souls as we eat.
Rather than another fast-food meal, let us find spiritual nourishment at the table of the Lord.
1/ http://www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/texts/acampbell/tcs2/TCS233.HTM , p. 342.
Meditations given at the Lord’s table enrich the moment.