Sermon 2595. What the Lord's Supper Sees and Says
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, JULY 1, 1883.
"For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord's death till He comes." 1 Corinthians 11:26.
THERE is something very tender about the Supper which Christ has instituted, for it very specially concerns Himself. Otherthings set forth the Truths of God which He taught, or the blessings which He purchased, or the duties which He enjoined,but this Supper has mainly to do with our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. True, as we think and speak of it, we shall learn preciousdoctrine and we shall be incited to gracious practice, but the central thought at this Table is concerning our Lord, Himself,and that part of Himself which it is most easy for us to realize-His flesh, with which He touches us so tenderly, making Himselfbone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. His blood, which makes Him so near akin to us-
"In ties of blood with sinners one."
It is very blessed not only to be reminded of Christ, but of that part of Christ to which we can most readily come. His Godheadis beyond us, but His Manhood is near to us, and I think that the tenderness of this Supper is greatly increased by the factthat it celebrates our Lord's death. If anything concerning our departed friends specially touches our heart, it is theirdeath. How lovingly we remember their last moments! Their final utterance sounds to us like the language of Prophets-wordsthat were commonplace, before, become golden when spoken to us by loved ones as they leave us. The tears come readily enoughto the eyes and the heart beats faster than usual when we begin to remember our well-beloved friends-and to remember themin the solemn moment of their death. At this Supper we shall not forget that our blessed Master is exalted and sits at theright hand of God. And we shall also, there, be forcibly reminded that He is coming a second time in the clouds of Heavenwith all the pomp and glory of His Father's court! Yet, the main intent of our gathering around this Table is to show forthHis death. That is the principal point and, therefore, Beloved, collect all your thoughts into one thought, all your contemplationsinto one contemplation and lay the whole at the foot of the Cross as you "eat this bread, and drink this cup."
To me, it is an exceedingly tender recollection that you and I should be called upon to keep up this memorial as if our Lordgave us this Supper with the commission that each one of us should see to it that His memory was always green-I was aboutto say, to keep His grave in order. But it is not so, He is not here, for He is risen! But, at least we are to keep the lettersupon this monument always deeply carved and legible, showing forth His death that everyone who passes by- that everyone whorambles into the cemetery where men have slept and pauses at this open tomb, and asks who once slept here-may know from usthat it was Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and the Son of Man, our dear and ever-to-be-adored Savior, who died, was buriedand rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures!
You see, then, that this Supper concerns our Lord Jesus and it especially concerns His death. And you have to attend to thisordinance and so to freshen up the memorials of the departed One. Do you not think that it will help you to do it if you rememberthat He has not gone far away? Before I rose to speak to you, I thought within myself that I could hear His footsteps uponthis platform-and I opened my eyes after my Brother's prayer almost expecting to see the Master here! He is not here in thatsense, though, if I said that He is here, who would dare to contradict me? He has so gone away as to be still present andHe is still present so as to be absent! Make what you can of that riddle-many of you understand the blessed paradox! We havenot lost our Lord's spiritual Presence, but we are looking for His bodily Presence and, I think, He is already so near thatif He were suddenly to appear in our midst, it would be no surprise to us and we would all clap our hands, and say, "Welcome,You long-expected One! We knew that You would come and we felt the influence of Your Presence-the coming event had cast itsbrightness upon us! We knew that You were on the way, for our hearts burned within us and we felt You coming nearer and thedays of Your Glory dawning!"
Very well, then, bearing all this in mind, we have now to consider what the Apostle said about this Supper and, first, I shallask you to think of the backward look of this ordinance-"You do show the Lord's death." Secondly, I shall ask you to listento the present voice of this ordinance, to try to hear what it now whispers in our ears. And then, thirdly, I shall speakof the prophetic glance of this ordinance, s ince the text tells us that in it we "do show the Lord's death till He comes."So there is, in the ordinance, a glimpse at Christ's coming Glory, a gleam of that long-expected light!
I. First, then, let us think of THE BACKWARD LOOK OF THIS ORDINANCE.
It was intended to be the memorial of the great event of Christ's life-and I think you will all agree with me that it is amost effectual memorial. I t has been said, by men well competent to judge, that there is no better memorial of an event thanthe celebration of some such festival as this. If you write the record of it in a book, the book may be placed upon a shelfand, perhaps, remain unread. Or it may be completely destroyed so that not a copy of it remains. If you set up a stone orbronze pillar and engrave upon it some words by way of memorial, that pillar may be turned to some other use and the originalintention of its erection may be wholly forgotten. I have seen marble columns, recording Roman triumphs, built into the housesof Italian peasants-and you may have seen the same. Painted windows are broken and even solid brass wears away. How can youkeep a thing upon the tablets of man's memory? Here is a nine days' wonder-will it last for nine centuries even in old worm-eatenbooks, or engrossed on parchment? Will not the Record Office be invaded by rats? Has it not often happened so and the bestpreserved documents have perished? But institute a Supper like this, so that wherever the followers of Christ meet together,a piece of bread and a little wine may suffice them to show forth Christ's death and you have instituted a memorial whichwill outlast your granite and laugh to scorn memorials of brass! Speak of imperishable marble? Here you have something farmore enduring and now, for nearly 19 centuries has the Church of God kept alive the memory of Christ's death by this sacredfeast. In the wisdom of Christ it was given to us-let us not grow so wise , or rather so foolish -as to neglect it!
In looking back from this ordinance, we see it to be not only a most effectual memorial, but also a most instructive symbol.Of what does this Supper consist? Simply of bread and wine. The bread must be broken and what better emblem of suffering canyou have than that? The bread, itself, if rightly viewed, appears to be a mass of suffering. The seed is cast into the groundwhich has been cut up by the sharp plow. It lies buried for a while in the cold soil. When it rises, it has to endure, first,the frost and all the trials of the wintry weather, and then the heat of summer. And when it ripens, it is cut down with asharp sickle. The sheaves press upon one another-they are thrown upon the barn floor and the precious grain is threshed outby severe beating. Next, it must be taken to the mill, to be crushed between great stones. And when it is utterly bruisedinto fine flour, it must be kneaded and made into dough. Then it must be baked in the oven and it has not finished its longprocess of suffering till, at last, it is laid upon the table and broken in pieces, and then further broken with the teethin order to enter into men and become their nourishment. So you see that the broken bread is an admirable emblem of that preciousbody of our Lord Jesus Christ into which all sorts of griefs were condensed till the "Man of Sorrows" was utterly consumedby them.
And look, too, at the wine in the cup. Does not that also indicate pain and suffering? Have you ever seen the vine- especiallyin the wine-producing countries-how it is cut down, till, in the winter, it seems to be nothing but an old dead stump? Howsharply do they prune it and cut it back if it is a good vine! And when, at last, it bears its clusters, the grapes are gatheredand thrown into the winepress and crushed beneath the trampling feet of the laborers. And the freely-flowing juice of thegrape is the picture of Christ's Sacrifice-the yielding up of His life-the pouring out of the precious blood of Jesus!
Now take the two emblems separately. You cannot make the Lord's Supper with the two joined together. You must have them both,but you must have them apart, for, when the blood is separated from the flesh, then death ensues. So, on the Table, you havenot only two tokens of intense suffering, but you have in the two, separate from each other, a most marked and instructivesymbol of death. This is just what the Lord intended that it should be. And when we come here, we can hardly keep from rememberingHis death, for it is so clearly set forth before us! I do not know what the Roman "mass" sets forth, with all its mummeryand mockery-what that can have to do with Christ, I cannot tell! But here you have, as Christ instituted the ordinance, afair token and symbol of His broken body and of His shed blood and, therefore, of His death.
You also have, in this Supper, something more than this, and that is, a most pleasing and happy exhibition of the result ofthat death. Our Divine Master died. "Woe, woe," we cry, "that Heaven's Darling should lie dead in the tomb!" Yes, but lookwhat comes out of His death! Men are now called to feast with God! Our Lord Jesus, by His death, has provided this sacredviand upon which hungry souls may feed to the fullest and they are invited to come and take of that which is provided-thegood cheer of Heaven, the bread that strengthens man's heart and that wine which safely makes glad his spirit. Yes, man isno longer an outcast. No longer does he wish for the swine's husks to fill his belly, even if they cannot satisfy it, buthe sits at the Table and a feast of fat things is prepared for him-necessities and dainties-bread and wine provided for himin Christ! And that is plainly set forth to all who care to see it in this Supper. Nor is this all.
There is, in this supper, a personal and yet united confession and testimony to Christ. It might have seemed difficult toblend these two, for religion is a personal matter. If Christ is to save me, I must personally feed upon Him, and yet, religionis also a social matter. If Christ is to save me, it must be in connection with the whole of His Church which He has redeemedwith His most precious blood. Now here, at the Table, eating is an individual act-no man can eat or drink for his fellow menand thus, each man sets forth that he does, from his own heart, of his own accord, by his own faith, receive Christ to behis Savior. Yet inasmuch as no one man, alone, can celebrate the Lord's Supper, but there must be two or three at the least,so the great fact is set forth that we are not saved alone, but saved as members of one body- the Church of God which He hasredeemed at so great a cost!
See, then, how the unit is lost in the mass. No, not lost-it is still there and yet it is no longer separate-and this Suppersets forth all that. Come, therefore, Beloved, to this ordinance which has such richness of meaning in it that the few wordsI have spoken do but touch the surface of the subject! Come, I say, and think of your Beloved. He has died- He has died foryou! That dear body of His, black and blue with the cruel stripes, and crimson with its own blood-that life poured forth,though it was for all His people, yet was especially for you, my Brother-for you, my Sister! You did not see Christ die, butif your faith is in a right condition, you may see Him die, as it were, emblematically. You may see His death vividly setforth, after a striking fashion, in those emblems on the Table. God give you Grace to see it and, in response, to love Himmore who died on Calvary for you! Oh, if you had seen Him die, the horror of that scene would have overcome you and, insteadof sweet thoughts of devotion, as you fancy might be the case, you would probably have been overwhelmed with terror!
But now, as through a glass, in the emblems of the body and the blood of Christ, you may see Him under a softer light. Thehorror may not oppress you, but you may sit in that pew and see Him who died for you-see Him with a holy joy that He couldhave loved you and given Himself for you! It is you who are to think of Him. It is you who are to discern the Lord's body.It is you who are to eat and drink worthily, with all your heart, setting forth Christ's death. It is you who are to representHim-you, with all your Brothers and Sisters, but you, none the less, as truly as if you were alone. "As often as you eat thisbread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord's death"
That is the backward look of this ordinance-may God's Spirit enable you to give that look at this moment!
II. And now, dear Friends, secondly and briefly, bow your ear a little and listen to THE PRESENT VOICE OF THIS ORDINANCE TOYOU. What does it say at this hour?
It says to me-and my heart shall hear it-that Christ's death must still be kept to the front. I am to "show the Lord's deathtill He comes." Whatever I forget, I am to remember that. And this Supper is instituted on purpose that I may do so. O myHeart, you must keep a dying Christ always before you! Christ to the front for myself! Christ to the front in my teaching!Christ to the front in all my prayers! Christ to the front everywhere! O Memory, leave no other name but His recorded on myheart! Whatever else may come or may go, my Heart, you are told that you must still remember His death and keep it right inthe forefront of everything!
But over the table I hear a whisper come, "You still need this memorial. " We are not only to remember Christ, we are to,"do this," in remembrance of Him. This ordinance is intended to help our memory. Is it possible that we can forget our Lord'sdeath? Ah, if it had not been possible and probable, that we should forget it, there would have been no need of this Supper!It is ordained because we are naturally forgetful, we are ungracious enough to let even the best things slip. We forget notour earthly beloved ones who have been taken from us-the dear infant child has its name inscribed on the tablets of its mother'sheart, the husband has not forgotten his wife-but yet we grow unmindful of our Lord, and hence He left us this sweet forget-me-not.He says to us, as it were, "No, My beloved, I will not let you forget Me. I will give you something that shall frequentlyremind you of Me. Come often to My Table and there constantly think of Me afresh and anew."
What else does this ordinance say? It says, "In this Supper I have fellowship with the centuries that have gone before andwith those which will follow." When our Lord said to His first disciples, "This do in remembrance of Me," He really gave thatcommand to each one of us who believe in Him. But He also gave it to all the saints who have gone before us and to all whowill come after us. Does it not charm you to think that you are eating as Paul did, and as James and John did-that you arein the fellowship of the martyrs and confessors, the Fathers and the Reformers, and that we, in this ordinance, enter intothe great cloud of witnesses and take our part with them? I look upon this Supper-which some seem to regard as an unimportantceremony-as a thing most august and sacred, seeing how many hands have combined to break this bread and how many lips havepartaken of this cup. So will it be in the future when you and I sleep with our fathers. If Christ shall not come for a long,long while, this ordinance will still be observed by the faithful. If His coming should be delayed for 10,000 years-whichGod forbid! -yet still this Supper table would be spread and loving hearts would gather around it to keep this memorial aliveon the earth "till He comes." Do you see what this communion really is? It is a bridge of diamonds! It springs from our Lord'sdeath with one grand arch and it spans the intervening space "till He comes." Blessed are they that are treading that gloriousbridge and marching on, washed in the blood of His death, till they shall wear the white robes of His victory in the day ofHis appearing!
I think I hear another voice coming out of the depth of the cup. It says, "He will come. He will come. " And, oh, blessedassurance, He must keep His promise! This Supper is His pledge and it would be a cruel mockery of us if He never came. Hemust come! My Brothers and Sisters, it is nearly 19 centuries since Jesus said to His disciples, "In My Father's house aremany mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a placefor you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." And He will come! Do notgrow weary or, if you do faint with the long watching and waiting, do not grow doubtful. He will come! Your fathers thoughtthat He would come in their time. Some of them fancied themselves very wise and tried to interpret the prophecies which neverwill be explained until they are fulfilled-and they lost themselves in endless mazes of conjecture. Do not so, but, still,do not fling away your faith because you cast aside your speculation! Believe and hope, and patiently wait, and look, eachday, for the returning Christ, for He may come before tomorrow's clock strikes at noon! He may come before the midnight hourshall fall upon the hush of this great city. Before the word I am speaking shall leave these lips and reach your ears, Hemay appear, for, "of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in Heaven." But it is ours to standwatching, waiting and hoping, for this Supper tells us that He will surely come again!
One more message comes to me from this broken bread and that is, that it is His first coming that makes us ready for the second.Is it not so? "You do show the Lord's death till He comes." You keep before your mind's eye the fact that He came once todie in order that you may feel joy in the fact that He is coming again, not to die, but to reign forever and ever! I thinkI hear the countless trumpets and see the dead rising, and behold the King attended by ten thousand times ten thousand kings!Kings, did I call them? They seem to me like stars! No, like suns, for "then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun inthe Kingdom of their Father." Their Lord has come and His saints are gathered around Him. Caught up into the clouds, the livingones are with Him and the dead have risen and joined them! Oh, the splendor of that tremendous day! Though we know not whenthat day shall be, we know that He will come-the angels gave the promise to the men of Galilee-and it shall be fulfilled."This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into Heaven."In the clouds of Heaven, with great pomp, will He appear and, as we come to this Communion Table, we must think of that gloriousappearing of our Lord!
III. Now, lastly, I have to speak about THE PROPHETIC GLANCE OF THIS ORDINANCE. I have partly referred to that, already, forone thought in our text blends with another.
The prophetic glance reveals to us the fact that Christ will come again. We are to celebrate this Supper "till He comes."Then, He wilcome! Fall not asleep, you virgins, for at midnight the cry shall be heard, "Behold, the Bridegroom comes." Oyou who serve Him, begin not to mistreat your fellow servants and to be drunk, for He will come and
He may soon be here! By this Supper are we assured that He will come. "But," perhaps you say, "His saints have waited forHim nearly 2,000 years." What is that? Two thousand years? Think of those who waited 4,000 years before Christ came here todie! Now, I reckon that to wait 2,000 years for our Lord's Second Advent is a trifle compared with waiting 4,000 years forHis First Advent, for, you see, on that first coming depended the salvation of all His people! The ancients might well ask,"Will He come to die?" O my Brothers and Sisters, if Abraham and the Patriarchs and the Prophets had been dubious about Hiscoming to bleed and die, I should not so much have wondered! Four thousand years passed and yet He had not come-might noteach man have put his hands upon his loins for fear that he would not come-that there would be no redemption-no pouring outof the great price by which men should be set free? Four thousand years to wait for that! Why, now, if we have to wait 40,000years for His Second Advent, it need not be such an anxious time of waiting because we may expect Him to come in His Glory-wemay expect Him to come to be admired in all them that believe! We may expect Him to come to reign forever and ever! We maybe sure that He who slew the dragon will come to divide the spoil! He that routed Death and Hell will come to lead captivitycaptive and to reign forever and ever, King of kings and Lord of lords! You are not waiting in the night, for the Day-Starhas risen. You are not waiting in the thick darkness-the Dawn has broken upon you. Christ has appeared once! You are redeemedby His blood, you are children of the living God! Patiently wait, then, for He will most surely come, and every hour bringsHim nearer.
What does this ordinance further say to me? Why, surely, that Christ's coming will be better than ordinances. If, when Hecomes, there will be no more Lord's Suppers as we observe them now, and if it is, as it certainly is, a rule of the Kingdomto always go from good to better-and from better to best, as God never brings forth the best wine, first, and afterwards thatwhich is worse, but it is always something better, and better, and better-then what must Christ's coming be? Brothers andSisters, communion with Christ in the ordinances is very, very sweet! Oh, sometimes, we have had such pleasure, such delight,such rapture at the Table of our Lord, that we could hardly have endured any more!
At such times I have sympathized, a little, with Peter when he wished to build three tabernacles and to remain on the Mountof Transfiguration! It is very easy to get up to a great height, but, alas, we soon get down again. I wish that we could alwaysdo, in spiritual things, what I have done, today, by God's Grace, in temporal things. I am so lame and it was so great a painfor me to get up here, this morning, that I said, "God willing, if I once get up to my platform and preach, I will not godown, again, till I have preached the evening sermon." So I have remained upstairs all day. When I was once up, I stayed up!Now mind you, do that in spiritual things! You know, if you go down, you lame folk, you may not be able to get up, again,so stay up when you are up, and try to continue enjoying the Presence of your Lord and Master.
But, if Lord's Suppers and communion with Christ in outward ordinances are so sweet and we are to go on to something evenbetter when the Lord, Himself, comes, then what excessive delight it will be! Oh, to catch a glimpse of Him! If the feet ofHis servants upon the mountains are beautiful, what must His own dear face be when He shall be down in the valleys among us?Oh, if the sound of His Gospel is as silver bells, what shall be the utterances of His own dear lips when His words shallbe as lilies dropping sweet-smelling myrrh? Ah, me, there is something coming for you, Believer, of which you know but littleas yet! Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into your heart to know them-yet God has revealed them to youby His Spirit. You know them, to some extent, but not wholly as yet, for here we see in part and understand only in part,but there we shall know even as we are known. Be of good comfort, Brothers and Sisters-get all the sweetness you can out ofthis Supper while it lasts, but do not forget that there is something better than this yet to be revealed. This ordinanceis only like a candle, or a little star-when Christ comes, you will not need it, for He is the Sun!
Further, does not this Supper, as it looks into the future, tell us that the time is coming when we shall be rid of all infirmities?What is the need of this Supper, but that we have such weak, frail memories? When it shall be taken away, it will be a tokenthat we have good memories-memories that will miss nothing, but will hold by that which is good and blessed forever and forever!When this Communion is no longer to be observed, it will be a happy sign that we have come to our perfection!
Here I will close, but I seem, in closing, as if I said to you, "This is a kind of preface." In my old Puritan books, I oftenfind a preface written by some other hand to introduce the author's writing. Well, this is my preface to introduce you tothis marvelous book-the Communion, the Feast of Love, the Lord's Supper. There is no teaching anywhere like it! I have beenin the habit of coming to the Lord's Table every first day of the week now for many years-I have never omitted it except whenI have been too ill to move. Has it lost its freshness? Oh, dear, no! It is always a standing sermon containing more teachingthan volumes of men's sermons. I do not know how they get on who have the communion only once a quarter or once a year. Paulsaid, "As often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup." He should have said, "as seldom as you drink it," according tothe habit of some! There is no law about the frequency of its observance, except the sweet Law of Love which seems to say,"If this is a window where Christ looks out, then let me often approach it. If this is a door through which He comes to myheart, then let me stand often at this door." "Often"-frequently-I think that at least once in the week it is well for usto come to the Table of our Lord.
But there are some of you who have never come to this Table. If you are not God's people, do not come-it would do you no good-itwould rather do you harm to partake of these emblems. If you are not believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, do not come to HisTable-you would be hypocrites or intruders. But if you are sincere believers in Christ, how can you stay away? "This do,"He says, "in remembrance of Me." Suppose your Lord were to come and you had never done as He bade you? What would you sayto Him? "It is such a simple matter," you say. Yes, in some senses it is. Therefore, attend to it! If it were a matter inwhich your soul was concerned, so that you could not be saved without it, you say that you would attend to it. Would you?What wretched selfishness that would be! Is this all that you are to live for- that you may be saved? Are you really worthsaving, such a miserable creature as you are? You seem to me to be too poor a thing to be worth redeeming. If you are whatyou should be, you are believing in Christ and you are saved-and now you say, "What can I do to show my gratitude to Him whohas redeemed me?" Your heart expands, your spirit is enlarged and if there is anything, little or great, which Christ commandsas a proof of love to Him, you are delighted to do it! Do you not sometimes wish that He would give you something very difficultto do-some difficult enterprise? Have you never envied the men that died, burning at the stake, for Him? Oh, it must havebeen grand to have thus proved one's love to Him! But He says, "If you love Me, keep My Commandments"-and this is one of HisCommandments, "This do in remembrance of Me."
Now come, dear Friends, to this Communion Table, seeking your Lord and Master, and may you find Him and your hearts be madeglad! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: MATTHEW26:17-30; 1 CORINTHIANS11:20-34.
Matthew 26:17-19. Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto Him, Where will You that weprepare for You to eat the Passover? And He said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master says, My timeis at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My discip1es. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; andthey made ready the Passover Note their prompt obedience-"the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them." In this respect,they set an example we shall do well to follow.
20. Now when the even was come, He sat down with the twelve. This was the memorable night when the Jewish Passover was tomelt into the Lord's Supper, just as the stars of the morning dissolve into the daylight.
21. And as they did eat, He said, Verily Isay unto you, that one ofyou shall betray Me. This saying of our Lord must havestartled His disciples! They had all made great professions of affection for Him and, for the most part, those professionswere true. But this sentence must have fallen like a bombshell among them! "One of you shall betray Me."
22. And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and began, every one of them, to say unto Him, Lord, is it? They did not doubt theirLord's declaration. They knew it must be true-and it produced in them deep emotion-"They were exceedingly sorrowful." It alsoworked in them earnest self-examination. They did not, any one of them, say, "Lord, is it Judas? " Perhaps there was not oneof them who could have thought so badly of Judas as to suppose that he would betray his Lord. They had such esteem for himthat they had made him their treasurer. It is always wise for us to turn the glass of critical examination upon ourselves-wecannot do any good by suspecting our brethren. Suspicion stings like an adder, but we may do ourselves great service by suspectingand examining ourselves. Self-suspicion is near akin to humility and truthfulness-it was so with all but one of these discipleswho began to say to Christ, "Lord, is it I?"
23, 24. And He answered and said, He that dips his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me. The Son of Man goesas it is written of Him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he hadnot been born. So, you see, dear Friends, that a man may get very near to Christ-yes, he may even dip his morsel in the samedish with his Lord, and yet he may betray Him, even as Judas did. We may be very high in office. We may apparently be veryuseful-I have no doubt that Judas was exceedingly useful to the 12 and to the Master-and yet, for all that, we may betrayHim! God grant that we never may! Far better that we perished at our birth than that we should live to be traitors to ourLord!
25. Then Judas, which betrayed Him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, You have said. And if he had notbeen a hopeless reprobate, this unmasking of Judas ought to have driven him to repentance. A man may secretly indulge in hisheart a wretched design and, when discovered, he may loathe it. But, alas, there was nothing in Judas which could respondto the Grace of God.
26-28. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take,eat; this is My body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it; for this isMy blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Go into any Romish church and watch the priest'sperformance at the altar, and see whether there is the least likeness between that mummery and this Divinely-appointed ordinance!I can hardly imagine two things which are so widely apart! How did the Lord's Supper ever grow into the "mass"? It must havetaken long years of moss and ivy and lichen and all kinds of clinging things to overgrow the original, natural column whichthe Savior set up and to turn it into that mingle-mangle of which the Romanists and Ritualists think so much! The only saferule is to keep close to Scripture in everything, for, if you add a little, somebody will add more-and if you alter one thing,the next person will alter another and, by-and-by, you will not know what the original was! I have seen a peasant, in Italy,wearing a coat of which I believe neither man nor angel could tell which was the material of which it was originally made,for it had been patched so often. And, in like manner, if we did not know what was the original of the "mass," it would beimpossible for us, now, to tell, for it has been so patched and mended that it is not at all like the original! Let us, Beloved,keep strictly to the letter of God's Word and also to the spirit of it, lest we err from the Truth of God as so many othershave done.
29, 30. But I say unto you, 1 will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new withyou in My Father's Kingdom. And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives. Was it not brave of ourdear Lord to join in singing a hymn at such a time as that and under such circumstances? He knew that He was very soon todie-He was going out to His last dread conflict-yet He went to it singing a Psalm! It was to His Passion that He was going-toGethsemane's agony and bloody sweat. Yet He led the way there with a sacred song upon His lips. "And when they had sung ahymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives." Now let us turn to Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians, at the 11th Chapter.We shall there see how this Supper of the Lord had been changed, even in the few years since the death of the Master.
1 Corinthians 11:20, 21. When you come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's Supper For in eating, everyone takes beforeothers his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunk. They seem to have brought their own provisions to the assemblyand to have made a feast, thereof, and they even thought that was an observance of the Lord's Supper! They differed in socialposition and, consequently, one had little and another much, and some even went to excess so that they were actually "drunk."Paul might well rebuke such unseemly conduct!
22. What? Have you not houses to eat and to drink in! Or despise you the Church of God? "Do you think that, as a nominallyChristian assembly, you are constituted merely that you may eat and drink? 'What? Have you not houses to eat and to drinkin? Or despise you the Church of God?'"
22. And shame them that have not? ' 'Making the poor who come to the gathering feel their poverty by observing the superiorityof your provisions to their own."
22, 23. What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. For I have received of the Lord that whichalso I delivered unto you. "And therefore you ought not to have gone astray. I told you how to observe this ordinance, soyou have willfully erred. This is what I delivered unto you."
23-27. That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread: and when He had given thanks, He broke 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 Hetook thee cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the ne w testament in My blood: this do you, as oft as you drink it,in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord's death till He comes.Therefore whoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily. That is, from wrong motives, without sincerefaith and devotion to God.
27-29. Shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread,and drink of that cup. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks condemnation to himself, not discerning theLord's body. You notice that I introduced the word, "condemnation," instead of, "damnation." That word does not correctlygive the meaning of the original-it is not damnation, but condemnation, or judgment, as is clear from that which follows.
30. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. There is no doubt that God visited upon the Corinthians,in the way of chastisement, their lack of reverence at His Table. Many were weak and sickly among them, and many died. Theywere not lost if they were believers in Christ, but the Church at Corinth sustained a great loss through their departure,and I have no doubt that God still exercises a singular discipline over His own people. They that are outside are, to a largeextent, left to sin as they please. Their punishment will fall upon them hereafter-but the child of God cannot be allowedto do so and he shall be chastened for his sin. The Lord still says to His spiritual Israel, "You only have I known of allthe families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." A father may let another man's child alone,but his own boy shall not transgress without smarting for it! Such conduct as is here described does not bring damnation,for there is no damnation to them that are in Christ Jesus-but it does bring the chastening with which God visits His childrenwhen they walk contrary to Him.
31. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when a Church has lost its conscience and gets into sucha state as this Corinthian Church fell into, then, as it does not judge itself, God judges it and chastens it severely.
32. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Perhaps somebodythought, just now, "I do not want to be in the Church of Christ if it gets special chastening." That is one among many reasonswhy I do want to be in the Church of Christ, for, "we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with theworld."
33. 34. Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hungers, let him eatat home; that you come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will 1set in order when I come.