Observing the Lord’s Supper properly involves engaging our minds. But just what should we direct our minds toward? There are a number of paradoxes associated with the Supper that provide fertile ground for good meditation. This little article stresses the use of these conflicting ideas or paradoxes as an aid to our worship during the partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
For example, we can’think of how the terrible physical and mental anguish suffered by the Christ contrasts markedly with the ebullient joy caused by the resurrection. Death by crucification is perhaps the most terrible way to die that we can imagine. Yet, the resurrection was an outstanding and glorious work of God. They said He deserves to die. God reversed that decision as a stunning victory over the work of the devil (see Col 2:15). How happy we are. In this way we think of both death and life. We are sad and happy. Almost unconsciously we think of ourselves - we can be resurrected because He was!
Consider also the contrasting feelings of the enemies of Christ and the disciples before and after the cross and resurrection. At the death of Jesus the enemies surely felt victory, while the disciples must have felt crushing defeat. All appeared to be lost! Listen to the conversation Jesus had with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel? (Lk 24:18-21). What despair! Yet after the glorious resurrection was realized, victory was certain for the disciples and defeat for the scribes and Pharisees. In many ways this paradox applies to us today. Before we come to avail ourselves of the benefits of the cross and resurrection we are lost. We are and were defeated. Yet after touching the blood of Christ in baptism we have victory as a child of God and the hope of eternal life in Heaven.
Although we surely must think of Jesus we must also think of self. 1 Corinthians 11:28 instructs Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. As we think of serving the risen Savior we think of our work of proclamation of the gospel to the world. Surely this great memorial deserves to be made known to a world lost in sin and despair. Christ did so much for me! Here is something I can do for Him. When these thoughts come to mind, let us think of who we can present a crucified but risen Savior as their only hope of eternal life. Thus weekly I am reminded of a most important part of my life as a forgiven sinner.
The blood shed on the cross reminds us also of another important paradox. To the world this death was small and useless, perhaps just another Jew killed. After all, Jesus was not forming a government to challenge the Romans. Even Pilate, the representative of Rome, could find no reason to condemn Him. Pilate gave Jesus to the Jews because it was politically expedient to do so. What was another dead Jew to Pilate? Yet Jesus was innocent. Jesus did not represent a new commercial business or bank which might caused havoc with the economy. He did not even formulate a formal educational institution such as a university to challenge the schools of the day. Despite all of this, His death was the most important and most significant death in the history of mankind because it was followed by the resurrection to prove that He was Who He claimed to be: the Son of God. [He] was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 1:4). These thoughts stress again that they crucified the Son of God!
Finally, I am reminded in the cross of the old admonition, Like teacher, like student. Jesus did the will of God from start to finish (Phil 2:8-9). So must I, as I dedicate my life to His service. Once a week I dedicate myself to serving the Lord and not the world. Once a week I realize that the most important thing in my life is to please God, and not self. Once a week I see myself as I really am: a pilgrim on the road to Heaven to serve God throughout eternity.
Realizing these paradoxes in the partaking of the Lord’s Supper helps me worship my Savior more acceptably. Somehow a paradox holds our attention and concentration well, as we turn over its contrasting and almost contradictory ideas that are held together as one. Think on these things and our observance of the Supper will be richer, fuller and more pleasing to our God.