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Presence and Proclamation

Understanding the Lord's Supper. 1 Corinthians 11.23-26

1 Corinthians 11 (5)

Pray Psalm 143.1, 2.
Hear my prayer, O LORD,
Give ear to my supplications!
In Your faithfulness answer me,
And in Your righteousness.
Do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no one living is righteous.

Sing Psalm 143.1, 2.
Divinum Mysterium: Of the Father’s Love Begotten)
Hear my earnest prayer, O LORD! Give ear to my pleas for grace!
In Your faithfulness and righteousness, look upon me with Your face!
Enter not to judgment with Your servant, LORD,
with Your loving servant, LORD:

None can stand before Your Word.

Read 1 Corinthians 11.1-26; meditate on verses 23-26.


1. What did Jesus say about the elements of His Supper?

2. What are we doing as we take the Supper?

The practice of taking the Lord’s Supper is not well understood these days. All who do will say that by doing so we are remembering the Lord’s death for our sins. That certainly is the case (vv. 24, 25) But not the whole of it.

Paul adds two dimensions to the Supper which are largely overlooked. The most obvious is his comment in verse 26, that as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we proclaim His death till He comes. This proclamation—this witness—to the death of Christ is made by the act of taking the elements of the Supper. We proclaim His death to all who are present with us, that we might remember, be grateful, and be renewed in devotion to Him.

But we go forth from the actual supper to proclaim Jesus in our daily lives. The Lord’s Supper is food for witness. It fortifies our soul and reorients it to our proper calling (1 Thess. 2.12). The soul, thus strengthened, directs the body—words and deeds—to proclaim the death of Jesus and the Good News of His resurrection, ascension, and Kingdom. The Supper helps to prepare us to give a reason for the hope that is in us to all who ask (1 Pet. 3.15).

The Supper feeds our soul because Jesus is really—albeit spiritually—present in the elements. As we eat the bread and drink the cup we enter as fully and truly into the life of Jesus as is possible for us now. We know His Presence in us for revival and renewal, and we devote ourselves to going forth from His Presence more like Him than we were before, and more ready to proclaim Him to our world.

No wonder it’s so important that we get this right.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
A simple blessing before a meal is:
“Thank You, Lord, for this food.
Bless it to the nourishment of our bodies
and our bodies to Your service. Amen.”

Most of us eat several times a day. And each time we do, we are reminded of God’s goodness and provision, as we thank Him for His bounty toward us. “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6.11).

But the Lord’s Supper is to be totally focused upon Him. Through it we are called to remember His suffering, His separation from His Father, and the reason He went through all that pain. It was for us.

I daresay, if a dear loved one of ours, in anticipation of their impending death, asked us to regularly remember them in a certain way, I am sure we would go to any lengths to make that happen with love, and proper respect. We would not be—checking our watches, thinking about what’s for lunch, jocularly referring to our solemn remembrance, or in any way minimizing our loved one. I’m just pretty sure we wouldn’t.

Why then it is OK to take the Lord’s Supper—this meal that He has commanded we do in remembrance of Him—in the cavalier way we do? If God does not look kindly on that sort of thing, then why should we? “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little” (Ps. 2.11, 12).

Our simple dinner blessing requests that we are nourished, so our bodies will be of service to God. The same holds true for the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, but even more so. This meal feeds our souls as well—it “fortifies our soul and reorients it to our proper calling”— “that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2.12).

“Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” (Ps. 103.1).
“Serve the LORD with gladness…” (Ps. 100.2).

“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do [including taking the Lord’s Supper], do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10.31). Remembering Jesus, just as He requested.

For reflection
1. How do you experience the Presence of the Lord in the Lord’s Supper?

2. How does the Lord’s Supper encourage and embolden you in your witness for Jesus?

3. How would you counsel a new believer to prepare for taking the Lord’s Supper?

But the outward acts are not the whole, or the principal part, of what is to be done at this holy ordinance. Those who partake of it, are to take him as their Lord and Life, yield themselves up to him, and live upon him. Here is an account of the ends of this ordinance. It is to be done in remembrance of Christ, to keep fresh in our minds his dying for us, as well as to remember Christ pleading for us, in virtue of his death, at God’s right hand. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11.23-26

Pray Psalm 143.5-12.
Thank God for the work of Jesus Christ, your salvation, your calling in the Lord, and the opportunities you will have to serve Him throughout this day.

Sing Psalm 143.5-12.
Divinum Mysterium: Of the Father’s Love Begotten)
I recall the days of old; on Your works I meditate—
all the wonders of Your mighty hand, works both small, O LORD, and great.
LORD, my thirsty soul cries out for help to You! 
To You, LORD, I reach my hand
in a dry and weary land.

Answer quickly, O my LORD! Do not hide from me Your face!
For my spirit fails and I am like those who do not know Your grace.
In the morning let me hear Your steadfast love;
LORD I trust You, show my way!
I lift up my soul and pray!

Rescue me from all my enemies! LORD, I refuge seek in You.
Let me know Your will, O LORD my God; make me know what I must do.
Let Your Spirit lead me on to level ground;
save my life! Preserve my soul!
Rescue, LORD, and make me whole!

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today is in need of revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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