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Holy Communion: It’s meant for sinners

On this third Sunday of the month, our regular custom at Hermon is to participate in Holy Communion. The remembrance of the Lord’s Supper is one of the two sacraments implemented by our Lord Jesus Christ (the other being baptism). Over the past two decades, it has been our tradition to commemorate it every third Sunday. This is the result of coordination with our sister church Hebron at CCKBC, with them having it every first Sunday. Now that we are at Henderson, we will be moving it to the first Sunday of each month from 2023 onwards. Let us start each new month by remembering God’s grace towards us in His Son Jesus Christ.

As we prepare for Holy Communion this Sunday, may I share an extract from an article by Luke Stamps titled “It’s meant for sinners”. The article reminded me of last week’s sermon. From Luke 22 and 23, Ps Luwin showed us that the death of Jesus was all according to God’s plan to liberate sinful humanity. Since Jesus’ sacrifice at Calvary was meant for sinners, as believers, we can come to eat the bread and drink the cup in spite of how we have lived this past month.

“My own church celebrates the Lord’s Supper on the first Sunday of every month, and I can see the benefit of doing so even more frequently. Knowing that we will come to the Lord’s Table at the end of a worship service gives added significance to the prayers, readings, songs, and sermons of our corporate gatherings. The Supper looms large in the worship service as a reminder of our sin and God’s provision of forgiveness in Christ.

Recently, our pastor’s sermon text was Luke 12:35-48, where Jesus warns his disciples to be ready for his return. Jesus’ words seemed especially relevant as we prepared our hearts to receive the Lord’s Supper: “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them” (Luke 12:37). Isn’t this astonishing? The Master returns, not to recline at table and be served, but to dress himself for service, to have his servants recline at table, and to serve them! This shocking reversal of roles characterises the very heart of Christ’s mission: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

And isn’t this exactly what the Lord’s Supper is all about? As Michael Horton has pointed out, the covenant ratification that takes place in the Supper does not involve God’s people standing in his presence and promising that they will serve him (as at Sinai; Ex. 24). Instead, it involves God himself, in the person of his Son, sitting his people down and girding himself to serve them. The blood of the New Covenant doesn’t ratify our words — “All that the Lord has spoken we will do” (Ex. 24:7) — but Christ’s — “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). The Supper isn’t about our giving, but about Christ’s: “This is my body given for you” (Luke 22:19). As such, it is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet that the church, as a sanctified bride, will one day share with her Messianic groom.

This emphasis on the Lord’s giving can sometimes be obscured by the way that we approach the Lord’s Table. Taking our cue from 1 Corinthians 11:28, we rightly wish to “examine” ourselves so that we do not take the Supper in an “unworthy manner.” But we distort this passage if we begin to think that it calls for worthy recipients, rather than worthy participation, at the Lord’s Table. Some might be so trained to think of the Supper as an occasion for introspection that they dread the meal. In previous centuries, some Christians were so fearful about taking the Supper in an unworthy manner that few would actually participate when the elements were distributed. Surely something is amiss when believers in need of grace are hesitant to receive the sanctifying grace of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. Examination is good. But being overly introspective is counter-productive, because it diverts us from the very gospel of grace that is displayed before us at the Lord’s Table.

After hearing Christ’s Word and receiving Christ’s Supper this past Lord’s Day, I was reminded of the astounding mercy of God to give sinners like us these means of grace. I was also reminded of the story, relayed to me by one of my seminary professors, of the old Scots minister who once noticed a young lady in his congregation so gripped by guilt over her sin that she hesitated to take the Lord’s Supper. The minister’s counsel to her is worth remembering every time we come to the Lord’s Table: “Take it, lass. It’s meant for sinners.’”

Because Holy Communion is meant for sinners like you and I, let us partake of it as the Eucharist (Greek for thanksgiving). Let our hearts be filled with humble gratitude for the undeserved favour God has shown us.

- Ps Daniel Tan

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