Hymn of Death and Return

1 Corinthians

Hymn of Death and Return

July 6th, 1986 @ 7:30 PM

1 Corinthians 11:26

For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

7-6-86    7:30 p.m.


Beautiful, beautiful, choir.  We are going to turn to the eleventh chapter of 1 Corinthians, the eleventh chapter of 1 Corinthians; and we shall read out loud together verses 23 through 25.  First Corinthians chapter 11, verses 23 to 25, now let us all read it out loud together:

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread:

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 you eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.

[1 Corinthians 11:23-26]

There are two things that the Lord’s Supper does for us and for all who behold it.  One:  it looks back to the death of our Lord; “As often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death”—Then it looks forward—“till He come” [1 Corinthians 11:26].  It looks both ways.  It is a remembrance of the past, and it is a glorious promise of the future.

One of the unusual things that I saw in preparing this brief word tonight:  the same word, except in Hebrew, the same word is used with regard to the observance of the Hebrew Passover.  “For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye show the Lord’s death till He come” [1 Corinthians 11:26].  That exact word is used in Exodus 13:8 to describe the observance of the Jewish Passover:  “Thou shalt show thy son in that day, saying,” and then what it means.  The same word, “we show the Lord’s death till He come” [1 Corinthians 11:26].  The same word kataggelō in Greek and nagad in Hebrew are exactly alike; they are commensurate, they are corollaries.  Kataggelō means “to proclaim”; nagad means the same thing, “to proclaim.”  The Lord’s Supper is a preachment of Christ, and when we observe it, we are celebrating in a public presentation the glorious gospel of our Lord [1 Corinthians 11:23-26].

Now, taking those two things that the Lord’s Supper signifies, looking back and looking forward [1 Corinthians 11:26], I have chosen, as I have looked through these books, I have chosen beautiful poetry; that “looking back” and that “looking forward.”  Looking back:  from Paulus Gerhardt, one of the great, mighty poets of Germany—Paulus Gerhardt and Martin Luther were together the most gifted hymn writers and poets of the German nation.  He lived a life of infinite sorrow.  His wife was sick all of her life and four of his five children died.  And he lived in the horrors of the Thirty Year War.  And this is a typical poem and hymn of Gerhardt:

O sacred Head, now wounded,

With grief and shame weighed down,

Now scornfully surrounded

With thorns, Thine only crown…

How pale Thou art with anguish,

With sore abuse and scorn!

How does Thy visage languish

Which once was bright as morn!

What language shall I borrow

To thank Thee, dearest Friend,

For this Thy dying sorrow,

Thy pity without end?

O make me Thine forever,

And should I fainting be,

Lord, let me never, never

Outlive my love for Thee.

[“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”]

I don’t think in language is a more beautiful sentence:

O make me Thine forever,

And should I fainting be,

Lord, let me never, never

Outlive my love for Thee.

Isaac Watts was born in 1674; and never married, gave himself to a new thing in the church:  he published the first hymnbook.  Before him, they just sang metrical versions of the psalms.  He introduced the first hymnbook.  And Benjamin Franklin published that hymnbook; the first from his press.  If you ever go to Westminster Abbey, you’ll see a beautiful monument to Isaac Watts:  he’s at a table writing his beautiful verse, and the angels are whispering songs in his ear.  Oh, so many of the songs beautiful we sing are from Isaac Watts.

Alas! and did my Savior bleed

And did my Sovereign die?

Would He devote that sacred head

For sinners such as I?

Was it for crimes that I have done

He groaned upon the tree?

Amazing pity! grace unknown!

And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide

And shut his glories in,

When Christ, the mighty Maker died,

For man the creature’s sin.

Now we have never sung this stanza, that I’ve ever heard, and it’s one of the prettiest:

Thus might I hide my blushing face

While Calvary’s cross appears,

Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,

And melt mine eyes in tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay

The debt of love I owe:

Here, Lord, I give myself away

‘Tis all that I can do.

[“Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed?”]

It’s a strange thing:  in the little town of Olney, in England—I visited Olney the last time we were there—in the little town of Olney, John Newton was the pastor.  He wrote “Amazing Grace.”  He lived a vile and blasphemous life; was marvelously saved, and wrote “Amazing Grace.”  And he had William Cowper to come and to stay with him.  William Cowper, a single man, never married, was so stricken, and depressed, and sad, and sick; and the two men were there together, two of the greatest poets and hymn writers in this earth.  He wrote, among many others, “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood.”  And when I stood at Spurgeon’s tomb in London, this stanza is engraved on his sarcophagus:

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream

Thy flowing wounds supply

Redeeming love has been my theme,

And shall be till I die.

Now the other of our Lord’s Supper:  not only looking back to the sufferings of our Lord, but looking forward to the triumphant return of Christ [1 Corinthians 11:26].  John Milton is the greatest Christian poet who ever lived; born in 1608.  And one of his poems is entitled “The Lord Will Come”:

The Lord will come and not be slow,

His footsteps cannot err;

Before Him righteousness shall go,

His royal harbinger.

Truth from the earth, like to a flower,

Shall bud and blossom then;

And justice, from her heavenly bower,

Look down on mortal men.

For great Thou art, and wonders great

By Thy strong hand are done:

Thou in Thy everlasting seat

Remainest God alone.

And one other, looking forward to the coming of our Savior, the other part, the triumphant part of our Lord’s Supper [1 Corinthians 11:26]:  Charles Wesley was born in 1707; he was one of nineteen children.  And he and his brother John brought to England the greatest revival in Christendom.  And instead of being bathed in the blood of the French Revolution, England turned in a mighty revival to God.  And Charles Wesley took up where Isaac Watts laid down; and this is one of Charles Wesley’s beautiful and triumphant hymns of the coming of our Lord:

Lo, He comes with clouds descending,

Once for favored sinners slain;

All the many saints attending,

Swell the triumph of His train:

Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

God appears on earth to reign.

Every eye shall now behold Him

Robed in awesome majesty;

Those who once denied and killed Him,

Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,

Deeply wailing, deeply wailing,

Shall the true Messiah see.

Now redemption, long expected,

See in solemn pomp appear;

All His saints, by man rejected,

Now shall meet Him in the air:

Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

See the day of God appear!

Yes, amen! let all adore Thee,

High on Thy eternal throne;

Savior, take the power and glory,

Claim the kingdom for Thine own;

Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

Christ shall reign and Christ alone!

[“Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending”]

Oh dear, when I read these marvelous tributes to Jesus our Savior, my heart overflows!  And that was the kind of a devotion of your pastor, thinking of this beautiful Memorial Supper [1 Corinthians 11:23-26], looking back through the eyes of those who loved the Lord so beautifully, and looking forward through the eyes of those who speak of it so triumphantly.

Now Brother Rick, and Diane, if you’d play with him, we’re going to have your music; and our orchestra will find their places, and our men will come and be seated.  And we shall observe this beautiful preachment of the gospel in the breaking of bread and the drinking of the cup.