WHEN announcing the date of the Memorial Supper and stating our reasons for its yearly commemoration, in our issue of March 1, we promised that in this issue we would examine briefly the import of the emblems used to represent the body and blood of our Redeemer.
Of the bread our Lord said: "This is my flesh;"—that is to say, the unleavened bread represents his flesh, his humanity, which was broken or sacrificed for us. Unless he had sacrificed himself for us, we could never have everlasting life, as he said: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood ye have no life in you."—John 6:53.
Not only was the breaking of Jesus' body thus to provide bread of life, of which if a man eat he shall never die, but it also opened the "narrow way" to life, and broke or unsealed and gave us access to the truth, spiritual food, as an aid to walk the narrow way which leads to life. And thus we see that the broken loaf fitly represented the breaking of him who said, "I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE; no man cometh unto the Father but by ME."—John 14:6.
Hence, when we eat of the broken loaf, we should realize that had he not died—been broken—for us we would never have been able to come to the Father, but would have remained forever under the curse of Adamic sin and in the bondage of death.
Another thought: the bread used was unleavened. Leaven is corruption, an element of decay, hence a type of sin, and the decay and death which sin works in mankind. So, then, this symbol declares that our Lord Jesus was free from sin, a lamb without spot or blemish, "holy, harmless, undefiled." Had he been of Adamic stock, had he received his life in the usual way from any earthly father, he, too, would have been leavened with Adamic sin, as are all other men; but his life came unblemished from a higher, heavenly nature, changed to earthly conditions; hence he is called the "bread from heaven." (John 6:41.) Let us then appreciate the pure, unleavened, undefiled bread which God has provided, and so let us eat of him—by eating and digesting the truth, and especially this truth—appropriating to ourselves, by faith, his righteousness; and let us [R1637 : page 99] recognize him as both the way and the life.
The Apostle, by divine revelation, communicates to us a further meaning in this remembrancer. He shows that not only did the loaf represent our Lord Jesus, individually, but that after we have thus partaken of him (after we have been justified by appropriating his righteousness), we, by consecration, become associated with him as part of the one broken loaf—food for the world. (1 Cor. 10:16.) This suggests the thought of our privilege as justified believers to share now in the sufferings and death of Christ, the condition upon which we may become joint-heirs with him of future glories, and associates in the great work of blessing and giving life to all the families of the earth.
This same thought is expressed by the Apostle repeatedly and under various figures, but none of them more forceful than this, that the Church, as a whole, is the "one loaf" now being broken. It is a striking illustration of our union and fellowship with our Head.
We quote: "Because there is one loaf, we, the many [persons] are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf." "The loaf which we break, is it not a participation of the body of the Anointed one?"—1 Cor. 10:16,17.—Diaglott.
The "fruit of the vine" represents the sacrificed life given by our Lord. "This is my blood [symbol of life given up in death] of the new covenant, shed for many, FOR THE REMISSION of sins." "Drink ye all of it."—Matt. 26:27,28.
It was by the giving up of his life as a ransom for the life of the Adamic race, which sin had forfeited, that a right to LIFE may come to men through faith and obedience under the New Covenant. (Rom. 5:18,19.) The shed blood was the "ransom [price] for ALL," which was paid for all by our Redeemer himself; but his act of handing the cup to the disciples, and asking them to drink of it, was an invitation to them to become partakers of his sufferings, or, as Paul expresses it, to "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ." (Col. 1:24.) It was the offer to us that if we, after being justified by faith, voluntarily partake of the sufferings of Christ, by espousing his cause, it will be reckoned to us as though we had part in his sacrifice. "The cup of blessing, for which we bless God, is it not a participation of the blood [shed blood—death] of the Anointed one?" (1 Cor. 10:16.—Diaglott.) Would that we all might realize the value of the "cup," and could bless God for an opportunity of sharing with Christ his "cup" of sufferings and shame: all such may be assured that they will also be glorified together with him.—Rom. 8:17.
Our Lord also attached this significance to the "cup," indicating that it signified our participation in his dishonor, our share in his sacrifice—the death of our humanity. For instance, when asked by two of his disciples for a promise of future glory in his throne, he answered them: "Ye know not what ye ask; are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?" On their hearty avowal he answered, "Ye shall indeed drink of my cup." The juice of the grape not only speaks of the crushing of the grape till blood comes forth, but it also speaks of an after refreshment; and so we who now share the "sufferings of Christ" shall shortly share also his glories, honors and immortality—when we drink the new wine with him in the Kingdom.
Let us then, dearly beloved, as we on the evening of the 19th inst. commemorate our Lord's death, call to mind the meaning of what we do; and being invigorated with his life, and strengthened by the living bread, let us drink with him into his death, and go forth more determined than ever to be broken with him for the feeding of others. "For if we be dead with him we shall live with him; if we suffer we shall also reign with him."—2 Tim. 2:11,12.
It is left open for each to decide for himself whether he has or has not the right to partake of this bread and this cup. If he professes to be a disciple, trusting in the blood of the New Covenant, for forgiveness of sins, and consecrated to the Lord's service, his fellow disciples may not judge his heart. God alone can read that with positiveness.
Because of their symbolism of the death of Christ, therefore let all beware of partaking of these emblems ignorantly, unworthily, improperly—not recognizing in them "the Lord's body" as our ransom, for in such a case the partaker would be as one of those who murdered the Lord and would, in symbol, "be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." 1 Cor. 11:27.
"But let a man examine himself:" let him see to it that in partaking of the emblems he realizes them as the ransom-price of his life and privileges, and furthermore that he by partaking of them is pledging himself to share in the sufferings of Christ and be broken for others; otherwise, his act of commemoration will [R1637 : page 101] be a condemnation to his daily life before his own conscience—"condemnation to himself."—1 Cor. 11:28,29.
Through lack of proper appreciation of this remembrancer, which symbolizes not only our justification, but also our consecration, to share in the sufferings and death of Christ, the Apostle says, "Many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." (1 Cor. 11:30.) The truth of this remark is evident: a failure to appreciate and a losing sight of the truths represented in this Supper are the cause of the weak, sickly and sleepy condition of the church nominal. Nothing so fully awakens and strengthens the saints as a clear appreciation of the ransom sacrifice and of their share with their Lord in his sufferings and sacrifice for the world. "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup."