The Backward, Forward, Inward and Outward Focus of the Lord’s Supper
I would compel you to ask the Holy Spirit to make your participation of the Lord’s Supper more meaningful. It is a powerful opportunity to look backward, forward, inward and outward as a recipient of the gospel and a participant in the new covenant. 1
As we embrace the implications of the new covenant in the Lord’s Supper we look backward in gratitude and worship, reflecting deeply on the life and finished work of Christ. We do so “in remembrance” of Jesus’ all-sufficient and life-transforming work on the cross. We cherish his promise, “this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:26–28).
The apostle Paul admonished that as we commune at the table we “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). We Look forward with new covenant hope, beyond our present troubles, for his sure return and reward. We anticipate our future participation with him in the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:9)
Paul commanded us to “examine ourselves” by looking inward with self-honesty, confessing our heart condition and personal relationships. (1 Corinthians 11:27-32). The Spirit imparts grace for us to align our obedience with the person and purposes of Christ through truthful and heartfelt confession. To engage in this commemoration while cherishing sin or tolerating broken relationships speaks of a lifestyle unworthy of the gospel.
We also look outward as we cherish the new covenant. Gathered with us, we see other members of the body of Christ. We participate in rich community. We affirm that we are a vital part of a blood-bought spiritual family on a mission to proclaim the gospel in a needy world.
In the introduction, I told of the extended, unrushed experiences of the Lord’s Table in the prayer summit environment. This has birthed in me a longing for better, more thoughtful, more regular commemorations and celebrations of the “new covenant” secured for us by the blood of Christ.
John Piper summarizes the meaning of this, “When Jesus died, his shed blood and broken body, offered up in his death on our behalf, purchased all the promises of God. Paul says, ‘All the promises of God find their Yes in him’ (2 Corinthians 1:20). Every gift of God, and all our joyful fellowship with God, was obtained by the blood of Jesus.” 2 Then, based on the promises of the new covenant prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-34, and fulfilled in Christ, Piper explains, “Live by faith in the great gospel, new-covenant truth of the Lord’s Supper all the time. By faith your sins are forgiven. The will of God is becoming increasingly your delight (and not just your duty). You know him personally. And he is your God. Savor this when you drink the cup. And make this truth the means by which you love each other and point others to it. 3
I would add, “And remember that because of the new covenant, you are now his temple — holy, purified and indwelt by his resurrection power, through the Holy Spirit.” Andrew Murray declared, “If we are to look carefully at what the new covenant promises mean, we shall see how the ‘Sending, forth of the Spirit of his Son into our hearts’ is indeed the consummation and crown of Christ redeeming work.” 4
1 These thoughts adapted from the excellent article by Pastor Matt Damico: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/lay-down-your-burdens-at-the-table
4 Andrew Murray, The Two Covenants, (San Bernardino, California: Andrew Murray, 2017), 54