LD 28: The Institution of the Lord’s Supper by the Lord Himself
by Rev Arie den Hartog
Read: I Corinthians 11: 18 – 34.
This Lord’s Day of the Heidelberg Catechism begins a very extensive discussion of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is the second sacrament which the Lord gave to His church for her comfort and the strengthening of her faith.
In our first meditation on this Lord’s Day, let us think about the truth that this sacrament was given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The Lord’s Supper is not a mere invention of man. It is not even a mere tradition begun by the church many years ago. This is the Lord’s own sacrament. It was given to us in the greatness of His love to help us to remember His greatest work, accomplished for our salvation, namely His sacrifice on the cross.
We should be deeply impressed by the fact that our Lord instituted this sacrament on the very night in which He would be betrayed into the hands of His enemies. The next day, He would be condemned to be crucified. This would be the most wicked deed that man has ever committed. But all this would happen according to God’s sovereign plan for our salvation. By means of His suffering and death on the cross, amazing as this truth is, Christ redeemed His people and fully accomplished their salvation. Through the death of the cross, our Lord would show us His own great love for us.
Christ Jesus Himself was gathered with His disciples in the upper room in intimate fellowship with them to celebrate the last Passover with them. Concerning this fact, Jesus was deeply conscious. So Jesus said to His disciples in words recorded in Luke 22, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:” The reason why this passover would be the last passover is because Jesus on this night would fulfill the passover. Jesus would be the passover Lamb. Jesus would not only be the high priest who would offer this sacrifice, but he would also offer Himself as the sacrifice.
At the time of this intimate profound meeting with His beloved disciples, He gave the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Our Lord desired that His suffering and death on the cross would be constantly remembered by them and meditated on again and again. This remembrance must be the source of comfort, hope and joy for all those who believe in Jesus. Jesus intended that the holy ordinance of the Lord’s Supper be continually observed in the church. For that reason, at the time of His institution of the Supper, Jesus said “This do in remembrance of me.”
That the Lord Jesus intended this ceremony to be continually observed by the church is clear also from the words of the inspired apostle Paul in I Cor 11. There, Paul speaks of having received special instruction regarding the Lord’s Supper directly from the Lord Himself. “For I received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you,” We believe that Paul received this special instruction while Paul was in Arabia, being prepared by the Lord for the work that the Lord had called Paul to do as an apostle.
Paul states in I Cor 11 that by celebrating the Lord’s Supper, the church of Jesus Christ “proclaims the Lord’s death” until the final and blessed return of the Lord. So, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper must cause us to look more and more earnestly for the return of the Lord Who so loved us that He gave Himself for us. Whenever you celebrate the Lord’s Supper, think of the fact that this sacrament was given to His church by the Lord, and think also of the circumstance in which it was given.
Originally posted here.