In the Fulness of Time/Part 146

By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2011
G. Campbell Morgan suggested these three words summarize the full meaning of the Lord’s Supper: “commemoration, communion and covenant.”

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Provision for the Lord’s Supper. Matthew 26:26-30

Mt. 26:26-30 “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

At some point during the Passover meal, Jesus paused to introduce a new ordinance. It is obvious that whatever He was saying had a relationship with the Passover itself. John the Baptist presented Jesus as: “the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 36), at the very introduction of Jesus’ ministry. Here, at the conclusion of His ministry, Jesus said that the cup of wine symbolized the “blood of the new testament, which is shed for the sins of many” (cf. Matthew 26:28 and Luke 22:20). The apostle Paul repeated these words of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 11:25: “This cup is the new testament in my blood.”

G. Campbell Morgan suggested these three words to summarize the full meaning of the Lord’s Supper: “commemoration, communion and covenant” (Morgan, G. Campbell. The Gospel according to Matthew. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell, 1929. p. 299).

It is a commemoration since Jesus said: “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24). Paul made reference to this in 1 Corinthians 5 when he was dealing with a believer living in an incestuous relationship with “his father’s wife” (5:1). He connected the puffed-up attitude of the Corinthian church with the Passover and feast of unleavened bread, saying: “Purge out therefore, the old leaven, that ye be a new lump, as ye are unleavened, For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (5:7-8). Later he reminded them to examine themselves, so that they would not eat the bread nor drink the cup in an unworthy manner; this had been the cause for which many of them were weak and sickly, and some had even died! This was not the way to commemorate the death of our Lord as our Passover Lamb! We should judge ourselves and come to the Lord’s Table to remember Him, not to indulge in the leaven of malice or wickedness. After all, our worthiness is in the very fact of His crucifixion for us, so our commemoration should be of that which He did to make us worthy to approach God.

It is also a time of communion, as Paul recorded in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, being many are one bread and one body; for we are all part of that one bread.” Therefore, Jesus said, “This do, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (11:25). The observance becomes a common bond of all the members of the Body of Christ; we are all on the same level; we all need the same Savior. Thus, the Supper brings us together in communion with the same Lord (Acts 20:6-7).

Finally, the Lord’s Supper is a covenant. The Lord Jesus said: “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20; cf. Mark 14:24; 1 Corinthians 11:25). The word diatheke, “testament,” is better translated “covenant,” since it is a direct sign of the new covenant, reminding us that it is the result of the shedding of His blood for us.

Much has been written from the Premillennial position, questioning whether there is only one New Covenant in the blood of Christ, or two New Covenants, one exclusively for Israel, and the other solely for the Church. Those who support the two covenant idea claim that the original New Covenant prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and quoted in Hebrews 8:6-13 is strictly Jewish and has no mention of the Church. They contend that a separate New Covenant must have been made for the Church, the Body of Christ; otherwise, the promises of Israel would be confused with those of the Church, and this tends to weaken the argument for Premillennialism, though it does not destroy it.

Arguments for the one New Covenant are as follows: There is only one covenant made in the blood of Christ. Nowhere are two covenants mentioned. It is “the new covenant” in Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 9:15; and it is contrasted with the old, Mosaic Covenant in 2 Corinthians 3:6-7 and in Hebrews 8:6-8 and 9:15. Further, Galatians 4:19-16 lists only two covenants: “the one from Mount Sinai” (verse 24) and the other, the “Jerusalem, which is from above” (verse 26).

This New Covenant is already in effect for the Church with Paul and others being called “ministers of the new covenant” (2 Corinthians 3:6), and it is the source of all our spiritual blessings in Christ. This in no way cancels out the future fulfillment promised to Israel in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and repeated in Hebrews 8:6-13. This will occur at the Second Coming of Christ to earth (Romans 11:25-27).

These two concepts are not contradictory, and should not be considered as overlapping. This same double application is true of the Abrahamic Covenant, since: “the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Christ” (Galatians 3:14) without annulling nor compromising the physical or spiritual promises to the Jews in that covenant. The same can be said for the Davidic Covenant. Christ will rule for 1,000 years on the throne of David, yet, the Church shall reign with Him: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:12), and there are multitudes from all nations who will reign with Christ in His Davidic, Messianic, earthly kingdom: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them . . . and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years . . . Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection . . . they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-6). Why, then¸ should it be considered strange that the one New Covenant of which Christ is the Mediator should have both Israel and the Church in its fulfillment without any confusion of their promises?

In Matthew 26:29 Jesus reminded the disciples that He would drink wine with them in His “Father’s kingdom.” In Luke 22:16-18 He included both the bread and the cup of which He would no longer partake: “until the kingdom of God shall come.” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:25: “For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye show the Lord’s death till he come.” The Church will be taken up at the Rapture, but will also return with Christ to reign with Him on earth. Even in the millennial Kingdom there will be feasting and a remembrance of His salvation: “And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto the peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined . . . He will swallow up death in victory; and the LORD GOD will wipe away tears from all faces . . . And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us; this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:6, 8-9).

At the end of the supper Jesus and His disciples sang the final hymn of the Hallel (Psalm 118) which, among many other things, makes reference to His refusal by the Jews, His becoming the “head of the corner” (verse 22), the new “day” He established by His resurrection (verse 24), and His second coming, when they shall say: “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the LORD (verse 26, cf. Matthew 23:39). All of this will surely happen “in the fulness of time.”

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