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Looks of Love

In Taking God Seriously: Vital Things We Need to Know,  J. I. Packer says that during the Lord’s Supper, our thoughts of love should be focused in four directions.

Look Up

We should reflect on Christ as he reigns right now at the right hand of the Father. He is 

our Redeemer-ruler, our sovereign Savior, the supplier and sustainer of our peace, love, joy, and strength, and as the sender of the Holy Spirit to generate within us, in union with himself, the fullness of our newness of life.

The Lord’s Supper is an opportunity to praise and thank the ascended Lord Jesus for interceding for us and and feeding us.

Look Back

Paul’s instructs us that in the Lord’s Supper, we “proclaim the Lord’s death.” 

Christ’s transcendent achievement by his death on the cross must ever be central in our remembrance of and communion with him who is now our risen Lord and our true host at his table… . Glorying in the cross … should be part of each Christian’s mental and spiritual exercise as we come to receive the bread and wine.

As we partake, we should contemplate Calvary and everything Jesus achieved for us there.

Look Ahead

The Communion table points us forward, too, to the future coming of the Lord. As we partake in the bread and wine “we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

[C]ommunion with the Father and the Son in prayer no will bring joy, but the joy will be greater in heaven, where each of us will simultaneously receive Jesus’s full attention … and we shall see him face to face, and our fellowship of love with him will be unimaginably close and rich. 

In the Lord’s Supper, we should anticipate our future with him forever.

Look Around

We are members of the spiritual body of Christ, and in the Lord’s Supper, we partake with the other members of the body. The Lord’s Supper is a family meal, strengthening our bond with the other family members, and reminding us that, as a body (or family), our purpose is loving service to our Lord, our fellow-believers, and needy people outside of the body.

[A]s we share in the Supper, we should be asking ourselves, and asking the Lord Jesus to show us, what human needs we should devote ourselves to serving once our Eucharist service is over and we have scattered back into the wider world.

Packer urges us to “reconsecrate ourselves at each Communion service” to serve those around us.

My mind tends to wander more than I’d like during the Lord’s Supper, and I’m hoping these four directions to circumscribe my communing in love (to use Pacter’s language) will give direction to my meditation.


Theological Term of the Week

A biblical title (Hebrew) meaning “annointed.” The equivalent Greek title Christ is used frequently in the New Testament. 

  • Used in Scripture:

    One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. (John 1:40-42a ESV)

    The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4:25-26 ESV)

Click to read more ...


Heidelberg Catechism

Question 59. But what good does it do you to believe all this?

Answer: In Christ I am righteous before God and an heir of eternal life. (a)

(Scriptural proofs after the fold.)

Click to read more ...


Christ's Presence at the Supper

In what way is Christ present at the Lord’s Supper? In Taking God Seriously: Vital Things We Need to Know,  J. I. Packer answers like this:

[W]e need to be clear that the presence in question is the same presence that Jesus promised when, before his passion, he said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them” (Matt. 18:20), and when, following his resurrection, he told his disciples, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Is is the presence of the triumphant, sovereign Savior, who is there in terms of his objective omnipresence and here in terms of being always alongside each believer with a sustaining an nurturing purpose. Clarity requires us to say, then, that Christ is present at, rather than in, the Supper. Though not physical, his presence is personal and real in the sense of being a relational fact. Christ is present, not in the elements in any sense, but with his worshippers; and his presence is effected, not by the quasi-magic of ritual correctly performed by a permitted person, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, who indwells believers’ hearts to mediate Christ’s reality to them. It is not a passive but an active presence, known not by what it feels like (often it is, in any ordinary sense of the word, unfelt), but rather by what it does. For by it our risen Lord draws us close to himself and renews our assurance of possessing, either now or in days to come, all the good things that he died to secure for us. And then, as a good meal energizes the body, so our Savior energizes us for renewed ventures in faith and love, faithfulness and obedience, worship and service. This is what we who believe should seek when we come to the Supper, and if we do, then we shall surely find it [page 162].

You probably understand that when Packer refers to Christ being at, rather than in, the Supper, he is contrasting his conviction about the Lord’s Supper (The Holy Spirit conveys Christ’s reality to each partaking believer—see above.) with the views of Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Easter Orthodox, who all teach that Christ is uniquely present in the table elements in some way. Not only, argues Packer, are real presence views mistaken because they don’t “match actual biblical teaching,” they have an “unhappy implication”:

[I]f the consecrated elements are unique because Christ is present in them in a unique and special way, and if Christ is received in unique fullness and with unique efficacy by partaking of them, as is regularly assumed, then Christ is neither so fully present nor so fully available anywhere else. To believe in this unique presence is likely to generate superstition about the Supper and to weaken the everyday exercise of faith in Christ [page 159].

The believer partaking in the Lord’s Supper, Packer writes, should be looking up, back, ahead, and around. I’ll post more quotes explaining what this means later this week.


Sunday's Hymn: Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus

Hail, thou once despised Jesus,
Hail, thou Galilean King!
Thou didst suffer to release us:
Thou didst free salvation bring.
Hail, thou agonizing Saviour,
Bearer of our sin and shame!
By thy merits we find favor;
Life is given through thy name.

Paschal Lamb, by God appointed,
All our sins were on thee laid;
By almighty love anointed,
Thou hast full atonement made:
All thy people are forgiven
Through the virtue of thy blood;
Opened is the gate of heaven,
Peace is made ‘twixt man and God.

Jesus, hail! enthroned in glory,
There for ever to abide;
All the heav’nly hosts adore thee,
Seated at thy Father’s side:
There for sinners thou art pleading;
There thou dost our place prepare;
Ever for us interceding,
Till in glory we appear.

Worship, honor, power, and blessing
Thou art worthy to receive:
Loudest praises without ceasing,
Meet it is for us to give.
Help, ye bright angelic spirits,
Bring your sweetest, noblest lays;
Help to sing our Saviour’s merits,
Help to chant Immanuel’s praise.
—John Bakewell


Other hymns, worship songs, prayers, sermons excerpts, or quotes posted today:

Have you posted a hymn (or sermon, sermon notes, prayer, etc.) today and I missed it? Let me know by leaving a link in the comments or by contacting me using the contact form linked above, and I’ll add your post to the list.