Statistics
1452 sermons as of August 14, 2017.
Site Search powered by FreeFind

bottom corner

   
Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
 send email...
 
Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Preached At:Langley Canadian Reformed Church
 Langley, B.C.
 
Title:Celebrating the Lord's Supper
Text:LD 28 (View)
Occasion:Lord's Supper
Topic:God's Covenant faithfulness
 
Added:2006-06-08
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Hymn 2:1-5

Hymn 1A

Psalm 117

Psalm 113:1-3

Hymn 58:1-2

Reading: Matthew 26:17-30

Text: Lord\'s Day 28

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved in Christ,

Every time we have the Lord’s Supper, we enjoy a festive meal, a feast which anticipates the greatest marriage feast of all: the marriage feast of the Lamb. Our form for the Lord’s Supper is officially called “Form for the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper.” This is to highlight the fact that it is intended to be a festive time of celebration and rejoicing. And as we look at Lord’s Day 28 this afternoon, we’ll see that God gives us many reasons to celebrate at the Lord’s Supper.

This afternoon, we’ll hear God’s Word, summarized in the Catechism, with this theme:

Christ commands us to celebrate the Lord’s Supper

We’ll learn about:

1. Christ’s promises.
2. Our participation

1. Christ’s promises in the Lord’s Supper

When your family sits down for a meal together, it’s a fairly routine affair, I imagine. Perhaps the fast pace of life means that we don’t do it as often as we want to, but it’s still fairly ho-hum. There is no life-changing significance attached to it. There are usually no promises that go with it, aside from perhaps a promise that if you eat your vegetables you’ll get some dessert. But with the Lord’s Supper it’s different. When the Lord Jesus commanded his disciples to keep on celebrating this sacrament, he also gave two important, life-changing promises.

The first promise is that the bread and the wine give us a sure sign and seal of what Christ did for us on the cross. When we’re sitting in church when there’s Lord’ Supper, there are certain actions taking place. We should be watching because the meaning of the Lord’s Supper is not only in the eating and drinking, but also in watching the action. The action is just as much an integral part of the sacrament as the eating and drinking.

The first action is the breaking of the bread of the Lord. When the minister breaks the bread, this is pointing to the offering of Christ’s body for us. When we see that bread broken, our thoughts should go to how Christ gave himself for us. And we should note that this is something we can all take part in, both professing and non-communicant members. Sure, maybe you’re not be able to eat the bread and drink the wine, but you can see the bread being broken. You too can be reminded that Christ’s body was broken for you. In this way, the Lord’s Supper is not just something for the adults, it’s for everybody who believes in Jesus Christ, for the entire congregation.

The entire congregation can also see the cups being passed around. This is pointing to the pouring out of the blood of the Lord Jesus. When we see the cups being passed around, our thoughts should go to how Christ’s blood was poured out of him while he was suffering, while he was on the cross.

And what’s the result of all those things taken together? The result is that Jesus Christ is promising us that our sins are forgiven. You can think of those words of the Lord Jesus that we read from Matthew 26, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” When we have the Lord’s Supper, we have Christ’s promise that he has washed away our sins with his blood. And that’s a good reason to celebrate, wouldn’t you agree? With our sins forgiven, we can be on good terms with God. God has accepted us as his children. This is part of what Christ promises to us in the Lord’s Supper.

The other part is when we receive the bread and the wine. Of course, not everybody in the congregation can do that. But we should all want to. We should look forward to the time when we can eat the bread and drink the wine. Why? Because we want Jesus Christ to nourish and refresh us with his crucified body and shed blood. Let’s think for a minute about what that means.

The Catechism speaks about receiving the bread and the wine from the hand of the minister. That tells us something about the way the Lord’s Supper was celebrated when the Catechism was first written. In some early Reformed churches, the people would receive the Lord’s Supper standing up. There would be a line up of people and they would come individually to the front of the church and then the minister would give them a piece of bread and a drink of the wine. The Lord’s Supper is still celebrated this way in some Reformed churches in the Netherlands and elsewhere. But even if we do it differently here, the facts remain the same: we receive the bread and the cup of the Lord. We take that bread, we can feel how soft it is, and we put it in our mouth. We can feel its texture in our mouth, we can taste it. We take that cup of wine and put it to our mouths. As we do so, we can smell the aroma. We can feel that wine entering our mouth, going over our tongues and into our throats. We may even enjoy it to a certain degree. You know that it’s all a very real sensation. And that’s what a sacrament is about: giving us a real life physical experience to point us to spiritual realities.

The spiritual reality is that we are being nourished and refreshed in our souls to everlasting life with Christ’s crucified body and shed blood. Christ promises that we are feeding on him and being made strong through him in the sacrament. This is as surely real as is the taste, feel, and smell of the bread and wine.

And why do we need that? Why do we need to be nourished and refreshed by Christ? Well, think about why you need to nourished and refreshed by food and drink each day. When you get up in the morning and don’t have your Cheerios, how are you feeling by about lunch time? If it’s a good day, you might just feel a bit weak. If it’s a bad day, you might feel grumpy too. The same thing happens to us spiritually. When we are not fed by our Saviour, we get weak. We need to get strong again. This is what Christ promises to do for us in the Lord’s Supper. The Lord Jesus promises to give us what we need so that we can go on living as God’s children, for his glory.

This is another good reason why we should look forward to having the Lord’s Supper. We can’t be happy to go on without it �\" we need to be nourished and refreshed by the Saviour. The way that Christ promises to do that for us is through the Lord’s Supper. That’s why he commands all believers to come to the sacrament and celebrate it. He knows that it will be good for us. And he knows that it will help us to live in a better way for God’s glory.

Now let’s look at what it means for us to take part in the Lord’s Supper.

2. Our participation in the Lord’s Supper

So, you’ve taken the bread in your mouth and swallowed. You’ve done the same with the wine. This is a sign and seal of eating the crucified body of Christ and drinking his shed blood. But what do those things really mean? That’s what the second Question and Answer wants us to think about.

It means two things. The first is that I have accepted with a believing heart all the suffering and death of Christ. In other words, I believe that Jesus Christ suffered and died for me. When I eat and drink Christ in the Lord’s Supper, this means that I believe that his body was broken for me. It means that I believe that his blood was shed for me. The result is that I have received the forgiveness of sins and the life that lasts forever.

Really, what we’re talking about here is justification. Justification is when God says that we are right with him because we believe in the Lord and accept what he has done for us in true faith. So, part of what eating Christ’s body and drinking his blood means is that we are right with God. God will never condemn us. We have the sure promise of the gospel that we are accepted in the Beloved. The Lord Jesus taught us this in John 6 where he described himself as the bread of life. In verse 40, he says, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

So, when we take part in the Lord’s Supper, we are celebrating our justification. We are rejoicing in the fact that, even though we are not worthy, God has declared us to be worthy. Because of what Christ has done, because Christ has turned away God’s wrath from us �\" because of all that, we have been received as God’s children and heirs. The Lord’s Supper is a festive time to remember that our chains have been broken and we’ve been set free from bondage to sin and hell.

And it’s also a time to reflect on our union with Christ. This is the second part of what it means to eat and drink Christ. The Catechism says that through this eating and drinking we are “united more and more to his sacred body through the Holy Spirit, who lives both in Christ and in us.” Perhaps we don’t think very much about what it means to have union with Christ. Another way of saying that is that we are “in Christ.” John 6:56 says it quite plainly, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” By faith in Jesus Christ, who we are is taken up in him.

And this has very practical results for our daily lives. As we eat and drink Christ by faith, more and more we see ourselves as those ruled by his Spirit, rather than by the desires and lusts of our flesh. Just like there is one soul in our bodies, so it is with Christ and his body �\" there is one Spirit in control of the whole works. At least in principle. In principle, the body of Christ has one Spirit ruling it and living in it. In practice, at least for the time being, there is war in us. There is a spiritual battle, because there’s an old nature which needs to be crucified in an ongoing process.

This ongoing process is called sanctification. It’s the process by which we more and more die to sin and our old nature. It’s the process of turning from our old ways, and turning to a new life in Christ.

See, we need the Lord’s Supper because we want and need to grow in holiness. We want and need to grow in becoming the people God has called us to be. When we take part in the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Spirit is working in us. We may not always perceive it. Some who’ve never celebrated the Lord Supper wonder what it must be like. When the time comes, we might expect a kind of spiritual thunder, a crashing of waves, spiritual rockets flaring. Well, it so happens that the Spirit doesn’t usually work that way. He often works, and also in the Lord’s Supper, in subtle and quiet ways, slowly transforming our lives. Note the way the Catechism says, “more and more.” That’s another way of saying sanctification is a long journey.

And this sanctification is God’s work in us. That’s where the depth of the sacramental meaning of the Lord’s Supper really shines through. We are taking Christ into us �\" and by this, by the working of the Spirit, we become a part of who he is. Not for any credit to ourselves, we become flesh of his flesh and bone of his bones. And for our daily lives, this means just more and more realizing who we are and living accordingly. This is Christ’s work in us �\" which in turn leads us to praise him more! You can see why in the Lord’s Supper, we’re not only celebrating our justification, but also our sanctification.

When we’re serious about our faith, the Lord’s Supper will always be a time of celebration for us. We are happy about God’s grace for us and in us. We didn’t deserve anything, but God has done so much for us in Jesus Christ. We still don’t deserve anything, but God keeps on doing so much for us in Christ and in his Holy Spirit. When we see that, we should be ready to celebrate. We have rich promises, we have a God who cares so deeply about us that he gave his only Son to give his body and blood for us. And to keep us in tune with all that, he has given us the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Celebrate it! AMEN.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster


bottom corner