Often, when we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we meditate on the triumphant Christ who has defeated all of His enemies. The reality behind the Lord’s Supper is the heavenly feast acclaiming the Lamb who has conquered. It is in the end God Himself with whom we have to deal in this sacred celebration. The Word became flesh that we might become companions of God. This is the essence of communion. We come to the Lord’s Table to enter into fellowship with God Himself. It is fellowship with triumphant Christ that we are being offered.
However, the celebration of communion also makes clear that the Jesus is the Lord and Savior who has been smitted by an unbelieving world. We commune with the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 at the Lord’s Table. However, the smitten Christ is also the smitten Shepherd of Zechariah 13:7
Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man, My Associate, declares the Lord of hosts. Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; and I will turn My Hand against the little ones.
When the Shepherd is smitten, the sheep are scattered. The reality of many Christians throughout history is that the unbelieving world smites the sheep no less than the shepherd. Samuel Rutherford uses this passage to comfort Scottish Christians who were going through genuine persecution. In the early 1630s, church leaders who refused to submit to government control were experiencing genuine persecution, as the Scots stoutly resisted Charles I. The leaders of the state smote the shepherds of the church and indeed the sheep were scattered. Within this backdrop, consider the words of Samuel Rutherford
Faith, as it were, goes through fire and water to heaven… It is because the elect are truly united to Christ that they are persecuted by the world. It is not because God has given us up that we are experiencing persecution, but rather because we are truly united to Christ. Some of you are troubled not only by persecution itself but by the way persecution has betrayed you into doubt. You find yourself doubting the resurrection, doubting heaven itself. Have no fear: This is only part of the trials and tribulations which come when the Shepherd is stricken. Christ suffered for our salvation and He came through triumphantly. The same shall be true for us. Hughes Oliphant Old, Holy Communion in the Piety of the Reformed Church, pp. 289
It is the refiner’s fire that the elect must go through; therefore, we ought not to lose our faith. We ought not to lose our faith in spite of suffering and in spite of our own weaknesses. The Lord’s Table has been given to weary pilgrims to confirm our hope and to strengthen our faith during times of great difficulty.
Our smitten and triumphant Lord seeks sinners in the sacrament; although our fears and doubts should say the contrary we shall seek Him again because there shall be a meeting at His table. The love of God awaits all those who would approach the Holy Table. Let His love get a meeting and let us seek Him through all troubles. The invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb has been made. Let us accept that priceless invitation.