This evening we as a congregation will have a service that includes the Lord’s Supper. The Supper is a family meal in the sense that those who will take part in it profess to belong to the family of God. There are many ways of looking at the Lord’s Supper. We can view it as an Eucharist or Thanksgiving; we can see it as a Communion in which we interact with Jesus and he with us; we can regard it as a Memorial in which we remember what Jesus did for us; or we can consider it as a Covenant occasion in which we renew our dedication to the Lord – of course, we can use all these ways, even simultaneously.
One of the most helpful ways of participation that I have found was told to me many years ago and no doubt most of you will be familiar with the method as well. The individual who informed me of it told me to take five looks when at the Lord’s Table.
First, he told me to look back and recall what Jesus did when he was here in this world. Looking back, we can think of his teachings, his miracles, his disciples, but above all his death and resurrection. He did not die as a helpless victim of stronger powers. Instead he was the sinbearer who performed the amazing achievement of paying the penalty for our sins.
Second, he told me to look up to where Jesus currently is, seated on the throne of God. The Saviour has been exalted higher than we can imagine, than human words can describe. Although he is so high, yet he will remember us as we sit at his Table. We are in his heart and on his mind as he governs all things.
Third, he told me to look ahead to the time when Jesus will return. That day will be a marvellous one because it will be the occasion of the resurrection of the dead, of the reunion of believers who have died, and of the commencement of the new heavens and new earth. Faith is like a telescope that brings those future events closer to our spiritual vision.
Fourth, he told me to look around at the others who are also sitting at the Table. The Lord’s Supper should not be taken with our eyes closed; instead we should observe who is sitting beside us. Perhaps in heaven we will yet speak about this occasion.
Fifth, he told me to look within in order to find a personal reason for gratitude to Jesus. A short look there will reveal how sinful I am, and therefore give a reason for grateful participation in the Supper. But he told me to spend less time with the fifth look than with the other four.