The Lord’s Supper finds its context in the Last Supper that Jesus ate with His disciples. They were celebrating the Passover. But it’s important for us to know that Jesus doesn’t just eat the Passover lamb, He is the Passover Lamb. In John’s gospel, in particular, Jesus clearly viewed himself as the lamb of the Passover (John 1:29, 36; 19:14). In 1 Corinthians. 5:7, the apostle Paul says makes this explicitly clear when he states, “…For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
The Israelites needed a spotless lamb. And they finally got one. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” The new Exodus has arrived and it turns out that Jesus is the Passover Lamb, the Host, and the Guest of Honor. We feast on Christ with Christ.
Christ Applies the Passover to Himself
In Matthew 26 we read the story of the Last Supper:
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you.”
Here is what Jesus is doing—He is taking the elements that symbolized the Exodus, and He applies them to Himself. It had to be shocking for His disciples when He broke from tradition and offered the cup of his own blood. This was the inauguration of something new. No longer will they merely celebrate the redemption from Egypt, now they will celebrate their own redemption from sin and death. How shocked they must have been to hear Him say, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
So this is the beginning of something new. Jesus was doing something radical. It’s impossible to overstate how significant this is. Jesus is re-applying the story of the Exodus to Himself and to His followers.
There is a new exodus, and it’s a Christo-centric exodus. And as a result of the impending cross, (the blood that’s about to be poured out) the Lord’s Supper will now be a time to focus upon Christ. He is the Host of this meal. The symbols and the signs represent Christ. His body was given. His blood was poured out. He has been raised and is now in heaven. He is our anchor of the soul. And it’s an anchor that goes up to where Christ is seated.
Christ is the Focus on the Meal
The whole meal is now focused on Christ. Who He is. What He’s done. It’s His command, His invitation, His sacrifice, and His coming kingdom. It all revolves around the Host.
I love that song, “Before the throne of God above.” “When Satan tempts me to despair, And tells me of the guilt within, Upward I look, and see Him there, Who made an end of all my sin.”
Upward I look. That’s an essential aspect of the Lord’s Supper—we look inward, and then we look upward! We look to the Host.
Robert Murray McCheyne famously said, “For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.” The Supper is one of God’s greatest tools for causing us to take ten looks at Christ. The best thing we can do for ourselves and for the assembly of God’s people, is to have more time of looking at Christ, the Host of the Supper. Why would any healthy Christian avoid this? Why would any church neglect this? Like a corrective lens, the Supper adjusts our focus upon Christ. Upward we look.
Keeping Our Focus on Our Host
Vernon Schlief tells a story in one of his books about his own experience in his home assembly many years ago.
“One Lord's Day, when Christians were gathered together to remember the Lord, my great-grandmother happened to lift up her head to glance out of the window, and was startled to see that our barn in the distance was burning, with great flames licking at the roof! She nudged her husband, my great-grandfather, and whispered excitedly in his ear, 'John, our barn is on fire'. Without so much as lifting his head, he whispered back to her, 'Hush, we're in the presence of the Lord’."
I’m not sure my reaction would have been the same, but I appreciate the seriousness and vitality of Schlief’s focus. The American church could use a dose of that kind of reverence for the Host.
Listen to the words of the great Charles Spurgeon:
“Amidst us our Beloved stands, And bids us view His pierced hands; Points to the wounded feet and side, Blest emblems of the crucified. What food luxurious loads the board When at His table sits the Lord! The wine how rich, the bread how sweet, When Jesus deigns the guests to meet! If now with eyes defiled and dim, We see the signs, but see not Him; O may His love the scales displace, And bid us see Him face to face! Thou glorious Bridegroom of our hearts, Thy present smile a heaven imparts! O, lift the veil, if veil there be, Let every saint Thy glory see!”
David Anderson is a pastor/elder at Littleton Bible Chapel in Littleton, CO where he lives with his wife and three kids. David also serves Biblical Eldership Resources in many areas, including hosting their new podcast.