Bread and Wine

Desiring God 2012 National Conference

Act the Miracle: God's Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification

It is great to be with you. I have been to this conference a number of times, almost all of those as one of you — someone coming, registering, and hoping to learn something for ministry or just for life as a Christian. And so my prayer has been, as Jason has already prayed, that there will be something here that the Lord will say to you through his word that will be a means of grace to your soul.

The Centrality of the Lord’s Supper

We are gathered to talk — I guess that’s a little bit of euphemism — for me to talk and you to listen, but for us to think together about the Lord’s Supper. I have in my study back at the church a number of books by John Calvin. One of the more obscure ones is a collection of Calvin’s smaller theological treatises. There are, in this volume, 15 to 20 documents — confessions, catechisms, short theological works, the kind of stuff you take alongside Harry Potter to the beach during the summer, just this kind of thing. I’m sure you all have it and were reading it this week.

The last treatise in this collection has a terrific title, Brief Reply in Refutation of the Insults of a Certain Worthless Person. You can be glad it was not written about you. They didn’t have dust jackets or blurbs for the book, so you had to kind of get everything out there and just guess if you were this certain worthless person. What struck me about this particular volume of Calvin is how many of the works deal with a subject that very few of us ever think about. Listen to some of the titles: Short Treatise on the Lord’s Supper, Confession of Faith Concerning the Eucharist, Summary of Doctrine Concerning the Ministry of the Word and the Sacraments, and The Clear Explanation of Sound Doctrine Concerning the True Partaking of the Flesh and Blood of Christ in the Holy Supper. Over and over, we see Calvin and all of the Reformers very concerned and writing often about the Lord’s Supper.

Now, granted some of the controversies of the day, we would look back and say they were unfortunate and they dealt with matters that were not worth dividing over. But more than we think, the issue of the Lord’s Supper touches the very heart of the gospel. And so why is it that many of us, I imagine — though maybe not you because you’re here to hear this talk — hear the Lord’s Supper and we think, “Well, that’s maybe something that Roman Catholics are into or some of my high-church Lutheran friends,” but it doesn’t seem to be a central part of our worship as evangelical Christians and largely into the free church tradition. But over time, theologians have generally spent considerable effort in understanding the Lord’s Supper.

I just was pulling off some of the systematic theologies on my shelf, and I saw that John Calvin spent 90 pages talking about the Lord’s Supper. Someone after him, Francis Turretin, spent 130 pages. Charles Hodge spent 80 pages. Bavinck spent 50 pages. One of the most popular systematic theologies today, and a very good systematic theology by Wayne Grudem, spends 12 pages, perhaps a reflection of the way in which many evangelicals, not Dr. Grudem probably, think about the Lord’s Supper as less significant. Perhaps there’s just not as much to say or as many controversies, but the danger is that perhaps it’s not something that we give a lot of thought to, that the Lord’s Supper is celebrated infrequently and often haphazardly, often with little thought and little attention.

There’s no doubt that in the early church, the preaching of the word and the partaking of communion were the central elements in the worship service. In all four Gospels, we have Jesus’s words to the disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me.” In Acts 2:42, this description of the church says they devoted themselves to the breaking of bread, which could simply mean fellowship, or could also encompass the breaking of this communion bread. Acts 20:7 says, “On the first day of the week when we were gathered together to break bread . . .” and Paul preached until midnight. Whoa, man, those were the days. You could do that. I mean, somebody died, but whatever.

Forgotten Factors in Sanctification

We see in 1 Corinthians 11:20 this reference that whenever you gather together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you are eating. He’s criticizing because they have a divisive way of taking the Lord’s Supper. But the assumption seems to be when they’re gathered together, the Lord’s Supper is there. Now, I’m not saying you have to have Lord’s Supper every week. Indeed, we don’t have it every week. We have it once a month at our church. I’m not saying at all that the takeaway from this message is to go back to your church and be really aggressive and start thinking, “You know, if there’s one thing the Lord’s Supper is about, it’s about dividing us over the Lord’s Supper. And we need to have it more often and the bread’s too small and I’m tired of saltines and all the rest.” That would not be the right takeaway.

But the title of this message is appropriate, Forgotten Factors in Sanctification. When you think about your life as a Christian, growth in godliness, progress in the way of faith, very few of us think of the Lord’s Supper. If you were to ask the average Christian what is really key to your growth in Christ, to your Christian walk, to your perseverance in the faith, you would have more Christians say journaling than the Lord’s Supper. I have absolutely nothing against journaling. I’m glad you do it. But we should note that when Jesus gathered the disciples together in the upper room before his crucifixion, he did not have them sit down to journal. Do it. But why does he gather them together for this meal?

Institution of the Supper

If you have a Bible or something on your phone that you’ll actually look at, your Bible on your phone, turn to Mark 14:12–31. This is Mark’s account of the Last Supper. It says:

And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

Christ, the Host of the Supper

I want to show you three things about Christ from this passage and then will conclude with three ways in which the Lord’s Supper can be a means of grace to us. So first, three things about Christ in this passage. Number one: notice that Jesus is the host of this meal. You have at the beginning of this passage these strange instructions. Jesus is telling his disciples, “I want you to go and you’re going to find a man carrying a jar of water.” It’s unusual that a man would be carrying a jar of water and that Jesus would just know. Perhaps this is some level of divine omniscience. More likely, Jesus has arranged for some sort of signal and is making preparations for this meal. So he could say, “Go into the town, find a man carrying a jar. He’s going to lead you to an upper room where things are set up for the Passover.” This is probably a big room that would fit more than just 12.

You notice when he predicts Judas’ betrayal, he says, “It is one of the 12,” suggesting that there is probably a larger group here gathered for this Passover meal. So he goes and he arranges for a traditional Passover meal, which would’ve had the cups and the unleavened bread and the bitter herbs. Why does Mark bother to tell us these instructions? What’s with all these clandestine arrangements? Why does Mark include them? Well, he does so to show us that Jesus is going to be the host of this meal. He is not going to be a victim of circumstances outside his control. Even the meal at which he knows he will be betrayed, he is the one preparing the table, arranging for the room. He will run the Passover meal. He will be the father of this family.

And so, when we come to the table, we think of Jesus inviting us as a host for a meal. There’s a reason that Protestants have always understood that it is a table and it’s not an altar. Without being too picky about these things, I think churches ought to think about their table for the Lord’s Supper looking like a table. Sometimes it gets all decorated and there’s elaborate candelabra and there’s a potpourri of things and incense or something. That’s what you put on an altar. This is a table for a meal. It’s not an altar where another sacrifice needs to occur, but it is a table in which Jesus is the host.

Think of Psalm 23. When you think of Psalm 23, you think, “Yes, this is a picture of the Lord as our shepherd.” But remember the second half of that Psalm. It is the Lord as our shepherd host. Not only does he have this staff and a rod to comfort me, but, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5). What is the picture there of the Lord? He is our shepherd and he is our host saying, “Let me prepare for you a great banquet.”

That’s part of what you’re doing when you come to your weekly worship service. You gather around the throne because Christ is worthy, and he prepares a meal because we are not. It is a service for God for his glory and it is a service for us to receive more grace. Let’s not get into this sort of fight, “Well, the worship service is about what we want.” And then other people react and say, “ The service is about God.” Well, it’s really about both, God’s glory and more grace for us. Jesus says, “I want you to come to this table and I’m a host. I’ve prepared a meal for you.”

Wouldn’t you like to get an invitation from Jesus to come over? You get one of those little email invitations that are impossible to figure out and you have to respond to it. It says, “Yes, press this.” And then, “No,” and then, “Maybe put your thumbprint,” and then it has a little code at the bottom with jumbled up letters all squiggled around, and you say, “I didn’t go to school to figure this out.” It’s all more simple. Jesus just says, “I want you to come. I’m preparing a meal.” He’s the host of this Passover.

Christ, the Feast of the Supper

Here’s the second thing I want you to see about Jesus. He’s not only the host, he’s the feast. In Mark 14:22, he takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it, gives it to them, and he says, “Take, this is my body” (Mark 14:22). This is not in the way of transubstantiation, the Catholic doctrine which depends on these categories from Aristotle of substance and accidents, and that the bread and the cup and at communion it looks like and has these physical dimensions of real bread but actually it’s becoming to us at the same time, the physical body and blood. Those sort of Aristotelian categories would not have been on anyone’s radar screen in the gospel of Mark.

Do you know the Latin phrase “this is my body”? Hoc est corpus meum. I’m told, and I don’t know if this is apocryphal, but I was told this in college and seminary so I believe it’s true, and I saw it on the internet once, that phrase is from the phrase from which hocus pocus comes. Hoc est corpus meum. Because it was sort of a way of saying, “Look, this is not hocus pocus kind of magic, the elements turning into the physical body and blood.” That’s not what Jesus is talking about. I mean think about it. He’s right here. He’s holding bread, and he says, “This is my body.” Are they confused? They can see him right there.

It’s just like if you hold up a picture. You don’t have pictures anymore, but if you hold up your iPad and you say, “This is me on vacation,” does anyone think that they can touch that photo and be touching you? No, they’re just saying, “This is me. This is my representation. Here I am.” The normal Passover liturgy, however, was a little more than just a symbol. The normal Passover liturgy said, “This is the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate when they came from the land of Egypt.”

So if that was the normal Passover liturgy, “This is the bread which our ancestors ate when they came out of Egypt,” nobody would’ve thought, “Man, you got the real bread, 1,500 years old? Wow.” But they mean something more than just, “Here’s a symbol of the bread.” The idea was that when we partake of this we’re joining ourselves into this same story. It’s a kind of reenactment that the Jews understood. They thought, “We too will enter into this Exodus story. We’re participants just as our ancestors were and God’s redemption. He saved them. He’ll save us.” The language here of bread and wine, of body and blood, was Jesus’s way of saying, “Unless you feast on me by faith, you have no part in the story of God’s redemption.”

In the traditional Passover meal, the head of the family was to give an interpretation at each step and so it’s fitting that Jesus here gives a new interpretation. He says, “This bread is my body, and this cup is my blood.” He’s saying, “I am the new Exodus manna. I am the new blood of the lamb.” He takes the central event in Israel’s history, celebrated on the most holy of days, and he makes it all about himself. Have you ever thought of that? If you want to just make Jesus into a nice guy and kind of a good teacher it’s not going to work. I mean, it would be like your pastor standing up on Easter, saying, “Christ has risen. Worship me.” Well there would be a little disconnect there. Imagine him saying, “Glad you can come here for this Christmas service. Three wise men brought me gifts in the manger.” But it’s not strange when Jesus does it because it’s true.

When we gather around the table, we are gathering as participants not only in the Exodus story but more fully and finally as participants in the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection. He lays out a feast and he says, “I am your host and I’m the meal.”

Christ, the Covenant Keeper

Now here’s the third thing. Jesus also shows us he is the covenant keeper in the midst of covenant betrayal. One of the features of Mark’s Gospel are what scholars call Markan sandwiches. Yeah, you didn’t know a Scholar came up with such a cool name, but Markan sandwiches. There are as many as nine of them.

For example, in Mark 11, you have Jesus cursing the fig tree, then he cleanses the temple, and then he goes back to draw a lesson from the withered fig tree. So you see there’s a kind of sandwich. Fig tree, fig tree, and in the middle he cleanses the temple. Why? Because the cleansing of the temple is to show the reality of this withered fig tree. That just as he has cursed the fruitless life of this fig tree, so he is cleansing out the fruitless religion of so much of first century Judaism. There are all kinds of these sandwiches.

Well, here in chapter 14 is another one of these Markan sandwiches. Let me show you what I mean. In Mark 14:17–21, you have a prediction of ultimate betrayal. Jesus says that one of the 12, dipping the bread with him, will betray him. It’s a prediction of ultimate betrayal. Now you look at Mark 14:26–31, and here we have a prediction of temporary betrayal. They all say it just like Peter, “We’ll never deny you. We’ll die first.” And then they can’t even stay awake in Gethsemane. And then when the soldiers come, they all run away and he’d rather curse his Lord to a servant girl than stand up for him. They all desert him.

So we have covenant betrayal predicted in Judas and covenant betrayal predicted with Peter and the others. And in the middle of this sandwich, we have the Lord’s Supper. We have Jesus as the covenant-keeping Messiah in the midst of covenant betrayal. He says, “This is my blood of the covenant.” The blood was a sign and seal of the efficacy of the covenant. In Exodus 24:8, it says:

Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Zechariah 9:11 says:

As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free . . .

The blood of the covenant was the wedding ring. It was the signing on the dotted line. It was the firm handshake. It was the legal documentation. That was the blood of the covenant. Now Jesus says, “It won’t be blood from a lamb but from your Messiah that will ratify all of your blessings and will assure to you the reality of all that is promised in the one covenant of grace, that they would be a people to him and he would be their God.” Or as it’s described in Jeremiah 31:34, relative to the new covenant, it says that he would forgive their iniquities and remember their sins no more. He will be their God and they will be his people (Jeremiah 31:33). He says, “My blood will ratify all of these blessings. As I offer you this cup of salvation, you can drink of it because I am going to drink a cup of condemnation.”

Do you notice what happens right after this story? Jesus is praying in the garden and he says in verse Mark 14:36:

And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.

Here’s another cup. Jesus is saying, “I’ll give you the cup, the blood of the covenant, the blessings, and I will drink a different cup because I will be the covenant keeping Messiah in the midst of all of your covenant betrayal.” Christ serves us as host, he becomes for us the feast, and then he gives his life as a ransom for many to be the covenant keeper in the midst of all of our covenant betrayal. That’s what’s happening at the Supper.

The Means of Grace to Us in the Supper

Now what I want to do as we close is to give you three ways, with this understanding of the significance of this meal, in which the Lord’s Supper can be a means of grace to you and your sanctification, a means of grace and your walk of faith and your life in Christ. I’m going to give you three words. I belong to a denomination, the Reformed Church in America, that has some very good things in its heritage and it has a lot of struggles and problems. Today it is a mixed denomination. One of the things that is good about the denomination is our liturgy with the Lord’s Supper and it uses this language: “The Lord’s Supper is a feast” — and here’s the three words for you that are the three points of application — “of remembrance, of communion, and of hope.” Each of those can be a means of grace to you in your Christian walk.

A Feast of Remembrance

Let’s just look at remembrance first. Now, we get that one. That’s the obvious one. Christ says, “Do this in remembrance of me.” We take it, we remember, “Yes, that happened long ago. Jesus died and that’s sad. Isn’t that amazing?” But it’s more than that. The bread and cup aren’t here just to help you remember an event in the past. They are here to remind you that God’s promise is really true because Christ’s death for your sins is as real as the bread you taste and the cup you drink. That’s what you’re supposed to remember.

I love what the Heidelberg Catechism says. There’s not many times where I’ve gotten teared up in worship. I guess I’m not that kind of guy. But I have in administering the Lord’s Supper and reading these words:

How does the Lord’s Supper remind you and assure you that you share in Christ one sacrifice on the cross and in all his gifts?

Here’s the answer:

In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat this broken bread and to drink this cup. With this command, he gave this promise. First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup given to me, so surely his body was offered and broken for me and his blood poured out for me on the cross. And second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the one who serves and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, given me as sure signs of Christ’s body and blood, so surely he nourishes and refreshes my soul for eternal life.

Did you hear that language? As surely as you can see the bread and you taste it. That’s why I always tell people when we pass around a loaf of bread, “Take a big chunk. Don’t get a little crumb that dissolved. I want you to taste it, feel it, smell it.” As surely as you can see and taste that, so surely has Christ died for you.

Do you ever come to worship weighed down with sin? I do. Have you ever come to worship and you thought, “I can’t believe I blew up at my kids this morning? Why do I do that?” Have you ever thought, “Well, I can’t believe how long I stared into that certain store as I walked through the mall. Why did I do that? I can’t believe that as the pastor was preaching, all I was thinking about was football and how glad I am that the replacement refs are back.” You sit there and you think, “I don’t even know how to worship right. As I’m trying to ask the Lord for forgiveness of sins, I don’t even know why I’m doing it. I’m doing it just to be seen or to be heard. I can’t even repent in the right way.”

Have you ever wondered if God can really be for you when you are oblivious of him so much of the time? If you’ve ever come to worship like that, you need this table. As surely as you can see the bread and drink from the cup, so surely did Christ die for the forgiveness of your sins. This is to remind us of the reality of Christ’s sacrifice, that his suffering and his obedience meant our suffering and our obedience as if we too suffered the pain on the cross for our sins. “Do this in remembrance of me,” and to remember how real it was and how real it is this morning.

A Feast of Communion

It’s a feast of remembrance, and second, it’s a feast of communion. This may be a new idea for you. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul is arguing why the Corinthians need to take more seriously their idolatry, participating in these idolatrous feasts and sacrifices. And he says, “When you do it, you’re participating in something demonic” (1 Corinthians 10:21). That’s the conclusion he wants to reach. He’s saying, “Don’t participate in these feasts because when you do so you’re participating with demons in this idolatry.” That’s the conclusion he’s going toward, and in order to get to that conclusion he makes an argument that he assumes they will all agree with. You know how that works.

You’re trying to get to conclusion C and you start with A, which we all agree on. And you give B, which we all agree on. So this is one of those minor premises which he seems to assume that they will agree with. It’s in 1 Corinthians 10:16. He says:

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

He says it’s a participation. He says, is it not that when you eat this bread, you participate in the body of Christ and when you drink from this cup, you participate in the blood of Christ?"

The Greek word for “participation” there is the word you’ve probably heard before, koinōnia, or fellowship. You see, there’s something more going on at the table than just a mental exercise of remembering something that happened two millennia ago. Paul says, “Is it not the case? You all get this. When you take this bread and you take this cup, you’re participating. You’re entering into that story. You’re having fellowship. You’re having communion with Christ.” This is why I think we ought to believe in a real presence of Christ at the Lord’s Supper, not a real physical presence, but the reality of Christ’s spiritual presence joined with the Spirit bringing us up to Christ, who is seated in the heavenly places.

The Puritan Richard Baxter said, “Nowhere is God so near to man as in Jesus Christ and nowhere is Christ so familiarly represented to us as in this holy sacrament.” It ought to be after your service every Sunday you can say, as Jacob said in Genesis, “Surely God was in this place” (Genesis 28:16). And it’s not because you have to pray for Christ to show up. Some of us have a theology of worship that affirms the real absence of Christ. In that, we are just trying to, “Could you drum a little louder? Christ isn’t here yet. Preach a little longer. Get Jesus to show up.”

Wherever the word is preached or the word is displayed, there Christ is present. He gathers us around the preaching, the proclamation of his word, which he does by the mouth of the preacher, and then he gathers us by these elements at the table so we could have a real presence of Christ, a real fellowship.

Now, there’s a mystery here. I don’t quite know all the words to describe it to you, but when you take of those elements, you ought to think, “It’s not just that Christ did something for me a long time ago and I’m very thankful,” but you think, “Christ is now here with me. I participate. I have koinōnia, fellowship with him.” He’s not an absent host. He’s here at the table calling you.

A Feast of Hope

The Supper is a feast of remembrance, communion, and of hope. I don’t know what your pastor does or what you do if you’re a pastor, but before our Lord’s Supper, I always say the words of institution given in the Gospels and in 1 Corinthians 11, which says:

The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:23–26).

Have you ever thought of that? When you take communion this next Sunday or next month, whenever, do you realize you are announcing something to the world and to everyone there? You’re saying, “The Lord Jesus died for my sins, the Lord Jesus is coming again, and I will wait for the Lord Jesus.” You proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again. There is an inherent element of hope. Whenever you come to the table, you’re taking the bread, you’re drinking the cup, and you’re telling the world and each other, “This is not the final meal. Our Lord is coming again. This is but a little teeny appetizer. There is a great wedding supper of the Lamb, and who we are is not what we will be.” That can help you in your sanctification.

Do you come to the table just sort of, “Okay, I know I should be very sad and I should be a little bit somber”? Do you come with any hope? Do you think, “There’s a meal coming and glory is coming. I will feast with Christ and there will be such an end of suffering and such an end of sin. I want to live as much as I can right now to live in that reality later”?

As you look forward to heaven and to Christ’s return, I know you look forward to the end of suffering. Do you look forward to the end of sin? I do. I get very tired of my sins. I do the same ones. I get tired of your sins too, but I get tired of mine. I get tired of the sting of death. I have hope that Jesus is going to come again and he’s got such a party for us.

Enemies of Sin

My wife called me last night. She’s kind of catching me up on the day and she was saying there was a bee in the house. It’s a big deal when you have five little kids that there was a bee in the house. She said, “I tried to get it in a cup. I tried to get it out. I couldn’t find it and I thought it was gone.” And then our three-year-old, all of a sudden, starts screaming, “It’s in my shirt! It’s in my shirt!” And he was crying. And so I just picture my heroic wife there without me. She is like a mama bear. She ripped off that shirt and she said, “I was scared and I was so angry. I threw the shirt down and I started stepping on it, and I said, “Stupid bee! Stupid bee!” And she said, “Then I held little Paul and I said, ‘Are you okay, Pauly?’ and he said, ‘Stupid bee.’ I said, ‘Did it scare you?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, scared me.’”

That should be our attitude towards sin. “Stupid sin! I hate this sin. I hate what it does to me. I hate what it does for our church. I hate what it does to my family. I hate this. I hate what it does to our world. Stupid sin!” And praise be to God that he has won the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ and that we can come on Sunday and partake of a meal that reminds us that there is great hope. It’s not wishful thinking. It’s not sort of just, “Let’s hedge our bets,” but it’s a great hope.

The Lord knows that our faith is weak. That’s why he’s given us the sacraments to see and to taste and to touch so that faith can become sight. I know that some of you say, and I’ve heard it before, “Look, we live in a visual world.” Well, they lived in a visual world back then because people couldn’t read. So we live in a visual world. We need to do movie clips. I need to do a drama. I need to do something. People can’t handle it. They need to see something. I say you’re absolutely right.

What if we gave them the sight that Christ instituted for us? He said, “Here’s the movie I want you to roll.” Now, I know I’m not getting into whether you do that or not. I would go to your church even if you did that. But I wouldn’t go to your church if you didn’t do this, this table, this meal. You think of the prodigal son. The father runs with open arms to welcome him home. This is what the table is. Every week or every month or whenever you have it, it is our Father in heaven sending out a special invitation for you saying, “Prodigal sinner, would you come home? I have a meal for you. And instead of slaughtering the fatted calf, I have killed the Lamb of God to take away your sins and the sin of the world.” We can hear the gospel every Sunday. And praise God, he wants us to feast on it too.

(@RevKevDeYoung) is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church (PCA) in Matthews, North Carolina and Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte). He is the author of more than twenty books and a popular columnist, blogger, and podcaster. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have nine children. Browse all of Kevin’s articles, sermons, books, podcasts, and more at