Our Lord’s Jesus introduced two New Testament sacraments that are designed to nourish and strength our faith as well as point us to our risen Lord Jesus Christ. In many ways, both of these sacraments are very simple, very ordinary, and very straightforward. This implies that they are best understood when looked at most simply. One important way to understand and to deepen our appreciation for the Lord’s Supper is to examine the Last Supper on the night in which Jesus was betrayed. This scene is given in Luke 22:14-16
When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
With the Lord’s Supper we should take very seriously the obvious fact that Jesus sat at table with His apostles as one of the most basic dimensions of the ordinance. The table fellowship involved in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is basic to its meaning. It is one of the most obvious elements in the Eucharistic symbolism.
Furthermore, it is important to note that the Last Supper took place in a large upper room with a table in it. Nothing is said of an altar; it is simply a table. Nor is it suggested by the gospels that anyone knelt down before it. The apostles sat around a table. The sort of meal the apostles shared with Jesus implied a certain intimacy. There were many followers of Jesus (and many admirers of Jesus today) who were not yet disciples. That the apostles shared this meal with Jesus implied a sacred bond. This intimacy was forged based on Jesus’ own transparency with the disciples, as evidenced in John 15:15
No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
When we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we become the table companions of our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of eating the crumbs which fall from our Lord’s table, Christ invites us to sit with Him at His table and share His bread and His wine with Him. In preaching a sermon about the Last Supper, Charles Spurgeon states:
All the Lord’s believing people are sitting, by sacred privilege and calling, at the same table with Jesus, for truly, our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. He has come into our hearts, and He sups with us, and we with Him; we are His table-companions, and shall eat bread with Him in the kingdom of God.
To be table companions implies mutual fidelity. The sharing of a meal together is the sealing of an implied covenant which indicates that the table mates were under a bond to be faithful to one another. Thus, if we are truly really the friends of Christ, we may be well assured in eating this bread and sharing this cup that Christ has pledged Himself to be faithful to us. Spurgeon continues:
He has received you as His honoured guests, and fed you upon His choicest meats, and therefore, He does as good as say to you, ‘I will never leave you.’
Yet there is another pledge of fidelity here, and that is the covenantal bond between believers one with another. Often times, the Lord’s Supper is seen as being an intensely introspective and personal activity with God. However, this is only a portion of the picture. The covenant begins with God’s faithfulness to us and moves on to our faithfulness to God and to one another as well. As we receive the Lord’s Supper, may we deeply experience this bond of love and faithfulness from our Lord. He has proved His love for us in both his life and his death. Because God has pledged his faithfulness towards us, who will separate us from this love? As the apostle Paul writes,
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
As we receive this covenant meal, let us also refresh our love for our fellow believers in our local churches. For we do not sit at the Lord’s Table by ourselves; we are surrounding by fellow members of His body and fellow heirs to Christ.