Pastor Kevin DeYoung asks the following questions of believers: have you ever come to church feeling dirty for the way that you stared at a young woman at the Gap, or sat through an entire sermon thinking about how you blew up at your kids that morning, or come to the end of a worship service realizing that you were distracted the entire time thinking about football? If so, he says, you need the Lord’s Supper. You need to be reminded how much God loves you.
The Heidelberg Catechism gives us a wonderful answer to the question “How does the Lord’s Supper remind you and assure you that you share in Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross and in all his gifts?” The answer: “In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat of this broken bread and drink of this cup in remembrance of Him. With this command He gave these promises: First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup given to me, so surely was His body offered for me and His blood poured out for me on the cross. Second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the minister and taste with my mouth the bread and the cup of the Lord as sure signs of Christ’s body and blood, so surely does He Himself nourish and refresh my soul to everlasting life with His crucified body and shed blood.”
That’s a long answer! But as you might guess, we’re going to focus on the words “as surely as.” When Jesus instituted his supper, he declared that the wine represented his blood poured out for many (Mark 14:24), for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28); that the bread was to be eaten in remembrance of his body given for us (Luke 22:19); and that in participating we are proclaiming Jesus’s death-on our behalf-until he returns again (I Corinthians 11:26). And he assures us of this by means of the sacrament.
Look at the catechism answer again. As surely as we see the bread and the wine, so surely was Jesus crucified on the cross for us. As surely as we receive and taste the bread and wine, so surely Jesus nourishes and refreshes us. Do you doubt what your eyes are seeing, what your hands are receiving, what your mouth is tasting? Then don’t doubt that Christ was sacrificed for you, loves you, and will continue to care for you!
A brief word of warning is in order here. All this is true only if you believe in and trust Jesus Christ for salvation. This is a mystical meal, not a magical meal. As John Calvin said, participating in the Lord’s Supper will no more benefit the unbeliever than the sun shining in the eyes of the blind, or sounds uttered in the ears of the deaf. But the believer may have full confidence that God will truly bless him through the Supper.
Yes, dear believer, as surely as you see the bread and wine, so surely the Savior was crucified for you, for all your sins. As surely as you taste the bread and wine, so surely the Savior will strengthen and care for you. Take, eat and drink, remember, and believe. Joyfully confess with Kevin DeYoung: “As surely as I know, without any doubt or hesitation, that I am holding bread and sipping juice, so surely can I know, with complete confidence, God loves me in Christ.” Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Steve Hoogerhyde is a Ruling Elder at GRC.