What is the Lord’s Supper? Have you ever stopped to ask yourself that question?
As usual, the Westminster Shorter Catechism has a very helpful answer to that very question.
Q.96. What is the Lord’s Supper? A. The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ’s appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporeal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace.
So first things first, it is a sacrament. What does that mean? A sacrament is a “holy ordinance instituted by Christ” in which Christ and the benefits of the gospel are signified or represented, sealed, and applied to believers (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.92).
So the bread and the wine are signs or symbols of the body and blood of Christ. In the words of Q.96, the bread and the wine ‘show forth’ or represent the death of Jesus Christ. They call our attention back to the remembrance of the gospel itself – Christ’s death on the Cross to save sinners; His body broken and His blood shed to atone for our sins.
But that’s not all. The Lord’s Supper is a reminder, but it is much more than that. It is not just a sign, but a seal as well. By faith (not in a mechanical fashion, and not physically or outwardly), believers are made partakers of His body and blood – we feed on Christ spiritually and by faith alone.
And what is the result (and the purpose)? The “spiritual nourishment and growth in grace” of believers. And who among us doesn’t need that (and need it on a very regular basis)?
Are you a Christian? If so, do you want to grow in grace? Then you need the Word and the Sacraments that our Lord Jesus Christ has ordained for your growth in His grace!