Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Last Supper

The Lenten season is probably my favorite time of year.  I received this in email today:

The Last Supper
Visitors to Milan, Italy, for the past several centuries have paused in the dining room of the monastery to view one of the most famous paintings of all time: Leonardo de Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”

The artist attempted to capture one of the most poignant moments of Jesus’ life—the announcement of His betrayal by Judas. The painting also captures the apparent consternation of the other disciples as well as Judas’s defensiveness.

But much more was happening in the Upper Room. Jesus was saying farewell to His disciples, trying to prepare them for what was coming yet that night, and instituting an ordinance that would be practiced throughout Church history. He also referred to His future Kingdom.

We malign the disciples for their lack of understanding, but we can also miss the point of Jesus’ words in the Upper Room if we are not careful. The Lenten season is a good time to again contemplate His teaching that causes us to:
•Remember the past.

•Reflect on the present.

•Rejoice in the future.

Remember the Past

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me’” (Luke 22:19, NIV).

Though Jesus had not yet gone to the cross, He asked the disciples to partake of the bread in remembrance of Him. How strange the words must have sounded to them, but they understood after the cross.

Our communion services, which sometimes we participate in casually, are to be times of remembering the love of Christ which took Him to the cross. The coming weeks before Easter are a good time to give special thought to the sacrifice which was made in our place. Take time to remember Him!

Reflect on the Present

The Apostle Paul challenged the Corinthians to take seriously the practice of taking the Lord’s Supper. It was not to be just a ritual to commemorate the past, but a time of reflecting on their present spiritual condition.

“A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Corinthians 11:28, 29, NIV).

By partaking of the Lord’s Supper, we acknowledge our appreciation for the work of Christ on the cross, and that we are appropriating His sacrifice for our own sins. This time of self-reflection is a vital part of participation in the Lord’s Supper.

Rejoice in the Future

As wonderful as it is to have our sins forgiven, it is not the only provision of Christ’s work on the cross. We have the hope of spending eternity with the Lord. Even on that dark night in the Upper Room, Jesus pointed His disciples to the future home of sharing together in the eternal Kingdom.

For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26, NIV).

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