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At the Lord’s Table, we feed on Christ and as we grow in the Christian life, we discover that sharing and feeding on Christ as He is offered at the Supper is central to the life of the Christian. In particular, feeding on Christ at the Supper empowers the Christian to live the Christian life and this empowering is the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Supper is spiritual nourishment that we might live in the Spirit. It is spiritual nourishment promised by the sign of bread and wine and realized by the Holy Spirit. If this empowering is the work of the Holy Spirit, it must also be said that the Spirit works through faith. This empowering comes through believing the Gospel, as it is preached and as it is offered to us in the sacraments. What the empowering does, as the prologue of John indicates, is enable believers to live the life of the children of God. John Calvin makes this point very clear

For though He has taken His flesh away from us, and in the body has ascended into heaven, yet He sits at the right hand of the Father – that is, He reigns in the Father’s power and majesty and glory. This Kingdom is neither bounded by location in space nor circumscribed by any limits. Thus, Christ is not prevented from exerting His power wherever He pleases, in heaven and on earth. He shows His presence in power and strength, is always among His own people, and breathes His life upon them, and lives in them, sustaining them, strengthening, quickening, keeping them unharmed… In short, He feeds His people with His own body, the communion of which He bestows upon them by the power of His Spirit. In this manner, the body and blood of Christ are shown to us in the Sacrament. Commentaries, 9:247

This makes the point that the sort of local presence experienced by the disciples is transcended by another kind of presence experienced by believers after the ascension. This is an experience of the glorified Christ who dwells in us through the Holy Spirit. It is an experience of power that dwells within us. It is a sort of experience which is not limited to any space or location, but it is real and effective nonetheless. In fact, it is more real and effective because it is not merely beside us, but within us. It is not a presence simply to aid but a presence to transform, so that we are empowered to live as children of God. This follows the Apostle John’s thought which understands the ascension of Jesus to be necessary that Christ might live within the hearts of His disciples (cf. John 12:24; 14:12). Christ’s presence with us after the ascension is experienced in the spiritual power of bearing fruit.

This empowering is properly pictured in terms of covenantal themes. Truly, we come to share in the benefits of Christ only after we are united to Him by grace through faith. Hence, our covenantal union with the risen Christ is the basis of this empowerment and as we approach the Table we are nourished by the blessing of Christ displayed in the Supper. We experience Christ truly in His sanctifying power. In other words, we feel His presence as we are transformed into His likeness. Therefore, as we approach the Lord’s Table, may we look to Christ in faith that His power will be poured into us by His Spirit.

 

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