Lately we have been looking at what and how we should remember and recognising that the Lord’s Supper is one of the celebrations of discipline which God has given us. Last night we celebrated Communion in the evening service and Dave preached on this important celebration, stressing that it’s all too easy to do things on ‘auto pilot’ when it comes to the familiar and that we need to remember what we are doing and why we do it.

Looking at Matthew 26:17-30, Dave spoke about the need to examine ourselves before we partake of Communion. Jesus took the Passover celebrations and infused in them a new meaning. The Passover meal was traditionally a time when the Jews remembered God’s deliverance from Egypt, with the Passover lamb a reminder of that tenth and final plague when the firstborn were killed in Egypt – and also a foreshadowing of the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. Before the disciples ate the meal, however, Jesus told them ‘one of you will betray me’, and there was a period of self-examination as the disciples asked, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’ Notice that Judas does not use the word ‘Lord’ in his question, but says ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ We need to do more than acknowledge Jesus as a wise teacher; we need to own Him as Lord. In that period of self-examination before we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we need to examine our hearts and acknowledge that it was our sin that led to the Crucifixion. As Bach writes in the St Matthew’s Passion, ‘ich bin’s, ich sollte bussen’ (‘I’m the one, I should repent’.) As C.H. Spurgeon remarked, ‘better to look in the mirror than look out the window. Looking out of the window, you see one for whom you are not responsible. But looking in the mirror, you see one for whom you must give account to God.’

When we receive the bread which represents Christ’s body, we see that God comes to us in brokenness. We have to receive Him – that’s all we have to do. The direction of the Lord’s Supper is downward, from God to man. It is a sacrament (a gift from the Lord to His people), not a sacrifice (a gift of the people from the Lord.) We receive Christ’s forgiveness and His redemption.

When we receive the wine which represents the blood shed by Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, we realise that without the shedding of blood, there could be no forgiveness of sins and we remember the words of Jeremiah that the Lord will make a new covenant whereby He will ‘forgive our wickedness and remember our sins no more’ (Jer 31).

When we take Communion, we are reminded that we are recipients, beneficiaries of grace, that God made a promise to us and is faithful to keep that promise. We also look ahead to that next great feast, the marriage supper of the Lamb. There, we will sit in the presence of the Father, without Judas the traitor, without our own sinful hearts accusing us, humbled by our sin and encouraged by God’s grace.