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The Institution of the Lord's Supper.
HAT was the original intention of the
Sacrament of the Lord's Supper? An answer to this inquiry we find in the Catechism. The first question in the Church Catechism about this Sacrament is as follows :
“ Why was the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper ordained ? ” The answer supplied is this :
“ For the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and of the benefits which we receive thereby.” For a remembrance. So we read in the Communion Service : "I purpose, through God's assistance, to
, administer to all such as shall be religiously and
devoutly disposed the most comfortable Sacrainent of the Body and Blood of Christ; to be by them received in remembrance of His meritorious Cross and Passion."
“To the end that we should alway remember the exceeding great love of our Master and only Saviour Jesus Christ, thus dying for us, and the innumerable benefits which by His bloodshedding He hath obtained to us; He hath insti. tuted and ordained holy mysteries as pledges of His love, and for a continual remembrance of His death, to our great and endless comfort.”
“He did institute, and in His holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that His precious death until His coming again.”
Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee."
“ Drink this in remembrance that Christ's blood was shed for thee."
This language of the Prayer Book is founded upon the plain teaching of Holy Scripture, and is in precise harmony with it. The Lord Jesus Christ intended the Lord's Supper to be a continual remembrance to the Church of His atoning death upon the cross. The bread broken, given, and eaten, was intended to remind Christians of His body given for our sins. The wine poured out, and drunk, was intended to remind Christians of His blood shed for our sins. Our Lord mercifully provided an ordinance in which faith might be quickened by seeing lively emblems of His body and blood, and in the use of which believers might be strengthened and refreshed.
Thus, in the account of the Institution of this Sacrament given by St. Luke, xxii. 19, 20, we read :
“ And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you : this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”
In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, xxvi. 26-29, we read :
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake 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 ye all of it ; For this is
my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.”
The Apostle Paul, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, the eleventh chapter, verses 23-26, thus writes of the Sacrament, which (verse 20) he terms “the Lord's Supper :"
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread : and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat : this is my body, which is broken for you ; this do in remembrance of
After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood : this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as oft as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.”
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, therefore, according to the Scriptures, was instituted
for “a continual remembrance” of the Saviour's atoning death. It is our “duty to receive the Communion in remembrance of the sacrifice of His death, as He Himself hath commanded.” And this holy ordinance is commanded to be used and continued until the Lord Himself shall come.
But, further, the Holy Communion is not a mere Commemoration; it is a Feast. At the Lord's Table believers “ feed on the banquet" of heavenly food.
In the Exhortation before the Sacramental Service, we read that " it is our duty to render most humble and hearty thanks to Almighty God our heavenly Father, for that He has given His Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, not only to die for us, but also to be our spiritual food and sustenance in that holy Sacrament.” And likewise in the Exhortation to Communicants we read that, “If with a true penitent heart and lively faith we receive that Holy Sacrament... the benefit is great, then we spiritually eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood.”