Inauguration of the Lord's Supper
1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 22:14-16, 19-22, 31-32; Luke 24:13-17, 19-21, 25-31, 36-39; Matthew 28:16-17; Mark 16:11-14; John 20:19.
I read these scriptures to bring before us the circumstances and setting in which the Lord's supper was inaugurated. The apostle Paul writes very directly as to that setting: "the Lord Jesus, in the night in which he was delivered up, took bread", and so on. The Lord's supper was inaugurated at a time when the Lord Jesus was about to be delivered up. He was about to be taken by wicked men, and crucified, and slain.
The Lord's supper, thus, is a rallying point in Christianity. It is a precious gathering point for believers. And it is brought into the epistle to the Corinthians. In no other of Paul's epistles is it so definitely referred to, as in this one to Corinth, a locality in which there was much that would cause concern. It is not brought, specifically, into the epistles to the Ephesians or Philippians or Colossians, where there is much to commend the saints. Yet the apostle Paul brings the truth of the Lord's supper into this epistle to the saints at Corinth, where there is much exercise and many difficulties; there are sects among them; there is gross evil among them. He even says to them, "When ye come therefore together into one place, it is not to eat the Lord's supper." But I believe Paul brings in this truth as to the Lord's supper as a gathering point for the saints, to strengthen them, because they tended to be on party lines and individual lines; each had their own thoughts and their own ideas — "each one in eating takes his own supper before others." There were different, independent lines of thinking proceeding in Corinth, but the apostle Paul brings in the Lord's supper, as something that would meet those conditions, something that would gather the saints around our blessed Lord Jesus, around His blessed Person.
In Luke's gospel also, the Lord's supper is inaugurated in a setting where much adjustment is needed: "The hand of him that delivers me up is with me on the table", the Lord says. What greater conditions of sorrow and contrariety could there be than that "the hand of him that delivers me up is with me on the table!" Then there was strife among the disciples, "which of them should be held to be the greatest", and the Lord speaks to Simon: "Behold, Satan has demanded to have you, to sift you as wheat; but I have besought for thee that thy faith fail not." All of these things enter in to the setting in which the Lord's supper was inaugurated. And too, after the Lord's resurrection, there were conditions of unbelief, hardness of heart, doubting, fear of the Jews, and the two on the way to Emmaus going away - "we had hoped that he was the one who is about to redeem Israel." And He reproached them because of their unbelief! Yet, in spite of all these conditions, the Lord Jesus makes Himself known to His saints at this time, as gathered together.
We have often referred to these anticipative references, at the end of Luke's and John's gospels, to the Lord's supper. The Spirit had not yet come, but anticipatively these scriptures refer to the Lord's supper. In Luke's gospel, "He himself stood in their midst" and in John's gospel, "Jesus came and stood in the midst."
So dear brethren, as considering the times we're in and the exercises through which we're passing, we may perhaps wonder if some brethren who are exercised are ready to partake of the Lord's supper. But you think of the grace of the Lord Jesus! Think of the Lord's grace — coming to the two on the way to Emmaus and going with them! He went with them and they asked Him to stay with them — just that little touch of interest and desire for His presence — just a little interest in Him — "for the day is declining", and He makes Himself known to them in the breaking of bread! How comforting it is that, as any of us desire to do what's right and to please Him, the Lord Jesus would graciously go with us and wait for an opportunity to make Himself known: "he was made known to them in the breaking of bread."
Well, the Lord's supper is the rallying point, or as we sometimes say, the focal point of Christianity. The other meetings we have through the week — the preaching of the Word of God and the gatherings for prayer and reading of the scriptures — these are all important in their place, but the most important is the Lord's supper, because at that occasion we, in principle, reverse the world's judgment as to our Lord and Savior. It's at that time that we say, "We will have this Man to reign over us." He is the One of whom men have said, "When will he die, and his name perish?" And this is the One of whom the chief priests and scribes, having given a sum of money to the soldiers, tell them, "Say that his disciples coming by night stole him while we were sleeping." (Matthew 28:12-13). But in the Lord's supper, we celebrate — we remember — the One who has died, but is risen, the Firstborn from amongst the dead, Firstborn amongst many brethren, and who is crowned at God's right hand. He is the One whom we remember in the Lord's supper.
Well, may the Lord encourage us in these few simple thoughts. It says at the end of Luke 24, "he led them out as far as Bethany, and having lifted up his hands, he blessed them." We have spoken recently of Bethany conditions. The three persons there, Mary and Martha and Lazarus, were each in their places. All was in accord with Him, like "where two or three are gathered unto my name, there am I in the midst of them." "There therefore they made him a supper." Well, it was at Bethany that they made Him a supper, and here, "he led them out as far as Bethany." The Lord Jesus desires Bethany conditions in each of our localities, the stone having been rolled away — any obstacles having been rolled away, so there are suitable conditions to remember the Lord Jesus. May we desire and work toward these conditions in each of our localities, dear brethren.
For His name's sake.
S. E. Hesterman
Inauguration Of The Lord's Supper