The Lord’s Supper
February 6th, 1972
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
THE LORD’S SUPPER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
2-6-72 6:30 p.m.
It has been several months now since we began the memorial, eucharistic praise services as a separate part of the adoration and worship of our people before our living Lord. And though it adds to the number of the convocations of our people, with increasing meaning and appreciation do I look forward to these precious moments together.
And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.
After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come, till He come.
[1 Corinthians 11:23-26]
It is a memorial. “This do in remembrance of Me. This is My body” [1 Corinthians 11:24], bringing to mind His sacrifice and suffering. “This is my blood” [1 Corinthians 11:25], bringing to mind the encrimsoning of the earth at the foot of the cross [John 19:34]. And we understand what He means when He says, “This is My body” [1 Corinthians 11:24], and “This is My blood” [1 Corinthians 11:25]. Not the actual body, not the actual blood of our Christ, but to bring back to memory in symbolic form His suffering on the cross and the pouring out of His blood on the earth [John 19:16-34].
One of the affluent men in our church invited me to his palatial home. One of the rooms in the home, beautifully paneled in walnut, is a library. And on the wall in the library is a large, oval, old-fashioned picture of an old-fashioned girl. She looked to about eighteen or nineteen years of age, dressed as they did in the long ago with a high collar and her hair high on her head.
He said to me as I looked at the picture, he said, “That is my sainted mother.” He said, “She died when I was born. I have never looked upon her face.” And then with tears he added, “Someday when I arrive in glory the first thing I want to do is to see my angel mother.”
I understood what he meant when he said, “This is my mother.” I could have scoffed and in scorn said, “That is your mother? That is cardboard and ink and printing.” No, I understood. “This is my mother. And the picture brings back to me the memory of the life she gave that I might live, and someday in heaven I hope to see her sainted face.”
“This is My body” [1 Corinthians 11:24]. I understand. “And this is My blood” [1 Corinthians 1:25]. I understand. It brings back to our hearts the memory of the sacrifice of our Lord.
What is it in the Lord’s own estimation that He especially and particularly would have us to remember about Him? Would it be His wondrous words? “For never a man spake like that Man” [John 7:46]. Could it be His amazing miracles? Those who had read the history of God’s chosen family said it was never so seen in Israel [Matthew 9:33]. Could it be His flawless and pure and impeccable life?
No! For we are not saved by His wondrous works and we are not saved by His amazing miracles. Nor are we even saved by His beautiful life, though the lamb must be spotless, but “by His stripes we are healed” [Isaiah 53:5]. We are saved in the atoning death of our Lord [1 Corinthians 15:3].
What is His death like, and what was it for? Was His death one of a martyr, laying down His life for a great cause? Did He die in devotion, out of patient forgiveness to those whom He loved? What was the meaning of His death? He said that He was dying in our stead, and that His blood was for the remission of our sins [Matthew 26:28]. He died that we might have forgiveness and might someday stand in the presence of God, saved, washed, regenerated [Ephesians 5:27].
Saved by the death, by the blood of the Crucified One!
All hail to the Father, all hail to the Son,
All hail to the Spirit, the great Three in One!
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
Glory, I’m saved! Glory, I’m saved!
My sin is all pardoned, my guilt is all gone!
Glory, I’m saved! Glory, I’m saved!
I’m saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
[from “Saved By The Blood,” by S. J. Henderson]
“This is My blood shed, poured out, for the remission of sins” [Matthew 26:28].
His death is not only a memorial, bringing back to our hearts the remembrance of His sacrifice for us, but His death is also a glorious and incomparably precious prophecy. “For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show,” you portray, you dramatize, you picture, “the Lord’s death till He come; achris hou elthē, till He come” [1 Corinthians 11:26].
In the sixteenth chapter of this Corinthian letter you will find the word Maranatha, “the Lord cometh” [1 Corinthians 16:22]. It was a word used by the early disciples who were persecuted. It was a sign of their fellowship in Christ. Maranatha, maranatha. To greet one another. Maranatha, “the Lord cometh.” It was as word of encouragement and endearment in persecution. Maranatha, the Lord cometh. They also used the words in a like way that I have just read. “For as oft as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death achris hou elthē, till He come” [1 Corinthians 11:26].
And many, many times did those early Christians furtively, clandestinely, secretly meeting together, greet one another “Achris hou elthē, Till He come.” And bidding one another goodbye, some of them as they went to die at the stake, “Achris hou elthē, Till He come.” It is a promise and a prophecy.
Just as there is no such person as a Christ who was not born of the virgin Mary [Matthew 1:23-25], and just as there is no such person as a Christ who did not work miracles [Acts 2:22], and just as there is no such thing as a person as a Christ who was not raised from the dead [Matthew 28:1-7], and just as there is no such thing as a person of Christ who did not ascend into heaven [Acts 1:9-10], so there is no such person as a Christ who is not coming again [Acts 1:11].
“For as oft as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do portray, show forth, the Lord’s death achris hou elthē, till He come” [1 Corinthians 11:26].
The brother of George W. Truett, for so many years the pastor of this church, was named Jim Truett, and he lived Whitewright in North Texas, east of Sherman and above us. And for years in his age, Jim Truett each morning would arise at dawn, go to the east room of his house and raise the shade before the rising sun and say, “Perhaps He will come today.”
It may be at midday, it may be at twilight,
It may be, perchance, that the blackness of midnight
Will burst into glory. . .
When Jesus comes for “His own.”
Oh, joy! Oh, delight! should we go without dying,
No sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying;
Caught up through the clouds with our Lord into glory,
When Jesus comes for “His own.”
[from “Christ Returneth,” H. L. Turner, 1878]
“For as oft as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till He come” [1 Corinthians 11:26]. And He took bread: and blessed it and brake it, and said, “Take, eat: this is My body” [1 Corinthians 11:23-24].
Our Lord, as we lift up before Thee this unleavened bread, brings back to mind and memory the body of our Lord, nailed to the tree, torn and broken for us, that we might have eternal life in Thy name [John 20:31]. And as we share together this broken bread, may it find in us that holy reverential awe as we bow in the presence of the cross, and praise in thanksgiving for so great a love, so great a sacrifice, so great a promise, in our Lord’s dear name, amen.
“This is My body which is given for you: Take; eat, in remembrance of Me” [1 Corinthians 11:24].
“And in like manner also He took the cup, He blessed it and they all drank of it” [1 Corinthians 11:25; Matthew 26:27].
Our Lord, lifting up this cup before Thee, its red, crushed fruit of the vine vividly brings to heart and memory the crimson of life that poured out from Thy face, Thy hands, Thy feet, and Thy heart [John 19:34].
Was it for crimes that I have done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity, Grace unknown,
And love beyond degree!
But drops of grief could ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give my life away,
‘Tis all that I can do.
[“At the Cross,” by Isaac Watts]
And in this solemn moment, Lord, of sharing the cup together, may Thy presence and sweet tender mercy moving among us, felt by us all, lead us to a new dedication and a new consecration to Thee, and to Thy cause and work in the earth. Help us, Lord, to hope in Thee, believing that God hath prepared some better thing for us [Hebrews 11:40]. And we shall live and wait for that sweet tomorrow. In Thy precious name, amen.
“This cup is the new covenant in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me” [1 Corinthians 11:25].
And as you know, we have a sweet habit in our church after the Lord’s Supper of joining hands and singing “Blest Be the Tie That Binds.” You can join hands across the aisle, all of us, in an unbroken circle, singing this beautiful song of communion and fellowship.