Consuming Jesus

The Lord’s Supper is a time to remember the Lord’s sacrificial death on our behalf, certainly. But it is far more. It is one of the ways that God imparts grace to us, strengthens our faith, and grows us up into Christ. This doesn’t happen automatically, as a result of swallowing food. It comes as we look through the bread and wine to Jesus Himself. As believers we have union and communion with Christ. The sign of this union with Christ is our consuming something. Now, we are not often accustomed to think very deeply about eating—we’d rather just do it. But bear with me a moment. If you just stare at your meals, you will starve. So we chew up the bread and swallow it, and drink the wine.  The bread and wine are consumed and forever become a part of us—they are absorbed.  But remember, in the Lord’s Supper what are the bread and wine signifying? Christ.  So when we take the Lord’s Supper we appropriate Christ into our persons by faith. John 6:53—we eat his flesh and drink his blood—symbolically… covenantally.

There is a prejudice out there against John Calvin–that he is freeze-dried theology, and about just as appetizing. But as you read the quote below, you’ll see a pastor pointing his people lovingly to Christ in the Lord’s Supper:

2. Pious souls can derive great confidence and delight from this sacrament, as being a testimony that they form one body with Christ, so that everything which is his they may call their own. Hence it follows, that we can confidently assure ourselves, that eternal life, of which he himself is the heir, is ours, and that the kingdom of heaven, into which he has entered, can no more be taken from us than from him; on the other hand, that we cannot be condemned for our sins, from the guilt of which he absolves us, seeing he has been pleased that these should be imputed to himself as if they were his own. This is the wondrous exchange made by his boundless goodness. Having become with us the Son of Man, he has made us with himself sons of God. By his own descent to the earth he has prepared our ascent to heaven. Having received our mortality, he has bestowed on us his immortality. Having undertaken our weakness, he has made us strong in his strength. Having submitted to our poverty, he has transferred to us his riches. Having taken upon himself the burden of unrighteousness with which we were oppressed, he has clothed us with his righteousness. “  Calvin institutes, 4.17.2.

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