Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 1 - Christ In His Suffering: 14. Chapter 14: Christ at the Communion Table

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Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 1 - Christ In His Suffering: 14. Chapter 14: Christ at the Communion Table

TOPIC: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 1 - Christ In His Suffering (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 14. Chapter 14: Christ at the Communion Table

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Christ at the Communion Table

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake 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.


IN the two preceding chapters we fixed our attention upon a two-fold reality. We noted, first, that Christ, while seated in the room of the passover, suppresses nothing. On the contrary, He is sensitive to every phenomenon, visible and invisible alike, which confronts Him there. He keeps everything in mind, acknowledges each detail completely, gives every fact a full measure of attention. And, secondly, we discovered that Christ appears in the room of the passover in the capacity of His office, keeps His office constantly in mind, vitally preserves the sense of His official calling in His own soul besides transplanting it to the souls of His apostles.

We shall now observe that these two emphases become one truth, that these two lines meet at a point.

The merging of the two takes place in the institution of the Holy Supper. For if Christ is indeed the valiant Hero and the pure and genuine Prophet-Priest-King, who ignores and suppresses nothing but in His soul acknowledges everything to the full extent to which it can lay claim to His attention, He, having achieved this, can rise in the assembly, take the cup in one hand, the bread in the other, and say: I accept these signs in order to relate them to My person: eat, drink, and do it in remembrance of Me. By creating a memorial for Himself, Christ is telling His people: Do not forget Me; do not put Me out of mind; carefully remember My person and My work, great and mighty as they are; do not suppress Me until I return. Do that till I come.

By that request, you see, Christ asks a compensation for His suffering as the Messiah who Himself suppresses nothing for His life’s sake.

Besides that, however, we must know that in instituting the Supper He is acting in the capacity of His office. It is not as a man among men that He requires a memorial, and that memorial is not another one of the many monuments dotting the face of the world. No, no. He makes His appearance as office-bearer. His request for a remembrance in the world after His death is not like that of those mundane great, who, knowing that death will rob them of their office, try to keep some vestige of their meager humanity alive in those who come after, by requiring monuments for themselves. On the contrary, He wants to continue ministering His office to the world: the remembrance of His death is a sharing in His Mediatorship. The memorial He seeks to create for Himself is not the remembrance of a person whose office ceases the moment memory begins; instead it is a communion with His person, a ministering of His office. He remains the living one in the thoughts of His own, maintains His office, and continues to be the Mediator to those who by faith support the communion.

Now you can see what warranted us in saying that in the institution of the Holy Supper two lines meet: that of Christ who never suppresses anything in the world — who can, therefore, lay claim to remembrance in that world; and, secondly, the line of official life and service.

The institution of the Holy Supper, at this moment, and in this room, consequently, places Christ in a four-fold relationship: to God; to Himself; to the World; and to the church.

In the first place, Christ, at the institution of the Holy Supper, enters into that particular relationship with God which fully becomes Him now. On this occasion Christ confesses that He is perfectly conjoined with God. “I and the Father are one.” “He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father, Philip!”

Consider: what was God’s primary will and intent throughout the Old Testament? What single word epitomizes, and that as early as in the books of Moses — what single phrase precisely designates the activity of the God of revelation as it operates in Israel’s trekking through the world? What formula is the compendium of all liturgical ordinances and accomplishments? The answer is easy: the Bible constantly stresses the thought of creating a memorial in remembrance of the name of the Lord.

Those words epitomize the whole purpose of all of God’s activity in Israel in giving revelation and special grace to that people and making it fruitful in their lives. The whole purpose of the busy, colorful public worship among them is just this: God causes His Name to dwell there.

The place where the tabernacle will stand is called the place where God will cause His name to be remembered. So also the place where the temple later rises from the ground, and even every altar which God Himself dedicated and assigned, rests in a place where God wanted to create a memorial to His name.

This same purpose now permeates the soul of the Servant of the Lord, the Priest in the house of God, of Him who has been faithful in that temple to the last detail.

He does just one thing: He causes His name to be remembered.

Such an emphasis is an idolatry, deserving the curse; or it is an obedience which will achieve the award of glorification for itself.

For it is true that the question might well arise: Does not this matter suggest idolatry? There is but one name in the world which may create a memorial for itself. That one is the holy name of God. All thoughts must rise up to Him. If God, from whom, by whom, and to whom all things are, creates a memorial for Himself and for His name, He is sounding a bugle-blast over the world, which emphatically declares: I am the only One who has being in myself alone; I am the only One who can completely express My being in Word; I am the One whose self-expression releases influences, so that through the Word I reveal my image and send My name among men. Therefore all thoughts will be directed to Me. Therefore all that has breath, and soul, and spirit will have to remember Me, saith the Lord.

God, who creates His own memorial, is a jealous God, anxious for His honor. He gives His honor to no man. He gives neither man nor angel the privilege of creating a memorial for Himself; He does not simply because God alone is memorable.

And Christ, seated at the table in the room of the Passover, declares in full, round tones: Do it in remembrance of Me. And it is sheer revolt, is satanic, is the great rebellion, is incarnate godlessness for Christ to create a memorial for Himself, personally; —that is, for Himself, isolated from His office or from Him who gave Him that office.

If Christ had designated His own name and person as the great goal of the journey of a “remembering” mankind, if He had wished to be remembered by man after He, be it only for a second, had expunged God from His soul, and had regarded Himself as greater than God, or if in instituting the Lord’s Supper He had but momentarily done so independent of His Mediatorship, then in that instant Christ would have become the Antichrist.

Then the Supper would be the food of dragons. Then the table of the New Covenant would be impure. Then communion with Jesus Christ would be identical with sitting at meat with devils.

You see that this matter, like the several others we have studied, is again a delicate one. The issue obtaining in this room of the Passover is one of eternal right or of eternal wrong; it is a question of all or of nothing, of being a servant or of being a rebel.

But we can thank the Word of truth for preaching a Christ to us who never thrusts God out of His thoughts, and who never expels His own mediatorship from Him. He never does, and hence He does not do so in instituting the Supper — in remembrance of Him·.

In this way we can understand how it is possible for Christ to institute the Holy Supper without hearing the world creak on its hinges and without seeing Christ obliterated as an Antichrist by a stroke of God’s lightning.

That is because Christ in this moment appoints a memorial to His own name, solely thereby to create a memorial unto the name of God. He does so simply as a Servant of the Lord, who, by exercising communion with His people in the Supper, is by that means as a Mediator sustaining the relationship of that people to God. This He will do until He returns. As soon as is possible. He will take the Supper out of the world. He will Himself set fire to the last Supper-table, and gladly stride over its ashes in order, in the company of the Supper-celebrating congregation, to give up the kingdom into the hands of the Father, so that God may be all and in all. That will take place as soon as may be: Lord, thou knowest it; He desired no more than became Thy shepherd (compare Jer_17:16).

This point of view helps us to see why Christ, in instituting the Supper, begins by saying “do it in remembrance of Me,” designating His own name and constraining us to continue pronouncing that name, and, later, at the institution of baptism, continues calling that name when He says “make them all my disciples,” but thereupon puts it into the service of the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. “Baptize them,” He says on that occasion, “in the name of the Triune God, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”

Christ, who establishes a memorial for His name, establishes a memorial for the name of God.

He is able to do that because He is the temple of the living God, as well as the Priest of that temple. He can do it because He is at the point of supplying the altar with His sacrifice. God Himself is creating a memorial to His name by letting the Son institute the Supper in the world.

Consequently Christ stands over against this God in full consciousness of the mediatorship.

It is remarkable that Jesus does not hear a single voice from heaven in reference to instituting the Supper. The circumcision was introduced after a special command had come from God. Just so the Passover was instituted upon the expressed commandment of the Almighty. But the sacrament of the New Testament is introduced without any definite command to do so from above. Christ heard voices from heaven more than once. Even in the last week, when His lips uttered the prayer “’Father, glorify Thy name (that is, create a memorial for it)” a voice was heard from heaven in answer to that petition. But now, here in the room of the Passover, no “voice” is heard.

No voice is necessary. Christ is so permeated with the Messianic consciousness that He acts on a basis of infallible certainty as He takes the bread from the table and, by blessing it, segregrates it from any other bread in the world. And He takes the wine from the table, pronounces thanks over the cup, and in that way lifts that wine out of all other liquors of the world. Thus He accepts bread and wine as the means which God Himself allows Him to use, so revealing Himself as the Messiah, who knows unhesitatingly what He may do.

In that way Jesus Christ in His Messianic awareness not only directed all things to God, in order to culminate in God as the final cause of things, but also in that Messianic consciousness dared to superintend the gift of God, that is, God Himself.

As the servant of the Lord He wants to put Himself into the service of the Lord, and to create a memorial for Jesus’ name only for the sake of God’s name. That we have seen already. Moreover, this Servant of servants is confident that He dares to superintend the powers of the Holy Spirit, the full majesty and omnipotent activity of the triune God. Surely His taking the bread and wine at the institution of the Supper is taking them not merely as signs of His death but as coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Only when that Spirit joins itself to the eating of the bread and the drinking of the wine can there be a strengthening of faith and a mystical union of Him who eats and drinks at Christ’s table with Christ, and in Him, with the living God. So does the confident spirit of Christ superintend the Holy Spirit of God. He does it because He can act from the complete certainty of His purity and virtue, because He is beforehand perfectly sure of His right to claim a reward. He superintends the Holy Spirit in order that this One may later keep the believers in relationship with God by means of bread and wine and may sustain the communion of human souls with Christ’s body and blood.

Such is confidence in its highest conceivable form. Such is the confidence of my Lord Jesus. He dares to place His broken body and poured blood on the very apex of the world, right under God’s eyes. He dares to say: Father, it is my will that the Holy Spirit work with this body and blood until the day of days. Father, I take Thy Spirit out of Thy hands. My brokenness, which stands over against heaven and its beauty, surely is the great unity and the most beautiful gem of purity and virtue. I come, Father, and my reward is with me.

No, voices were not necessary to Jesus as they were necessary to Abraham and to Moses when these instituted the circumcision and the Passover, respectively. Externally considered, the sacrament of the New Testament is less exciting, is weaker, is more meager than that of the Old. But in its essence it is infinitely stronger, ampler, more puissant than the sign and seal of the Old Testament, and it appears as both of these in the very manner of its institution. Christ carries the voice inside Himself. The thunder of voices occurs but it is so powerful that earthy ears cannot hear it. That thunder echoes in Jesus’ soul. The sacrament of the New Testament does not get its approbation in thunder or theophany; it vindicates itself solely by the fact of its origin in the Messianic conscience.

Such “poverty” of course, constitutes great wealth.

In the second place, Christ consciously enters into a pure relation over against Himself upon this occasion.

It is an astonishing thing to consider that the very table upon which the slain Passover-lamb[1] has a place is the same at which Jesus is lying in the capacity of a host to His disciples; and to think that Christ removes that lamb from the table after it has served its purpose and He has accorded it full respect—removes it, in order to put Himself in its stead.

[1] Our belief to the effect that the meal, concluded by the Hallel, was indeed the Passover meal, is related to this fact as well as to the argument of Chapter 10. There is an opinion which asserts that the Passover meal was another, different from this. The nature of this book does not allow us to expose the reasons for our holding to the opinion that Jesus actually participated in the Passover meal. We shall simply say that our opinion rests on arguments derived partly from the history of revelation, and from its structure, but especially and primarily on exegetical bases. It can be very generally said here that the intimate relation between Jesus’ commission to find a room where the Passover could be celebrated and their sitting down in (this) room (the one requested) immediately afterwards makes the interpretation very tenable.

Christ does this on purpose. The moment in which He blesses the bread, and, giving thanks, also blesses the wine, is the moment in which the Passover of the Old Testament has to give way to the Supper of the New. As a matter of fact the food and drink of that supper had been “blessed” at the beginning of the meal also. But until Christ blesses them again these belong to the Passover-meal of the Old Testament. Christ does “bless’’ them again. A second time He blesses the remnant of bread and wine. The first blessing served to segregate this bread and this wine from its use in natural, daily life, to dedicate it to its ritualistic function in the sacrament of the Passover. But the second thanksgiving- blessing pushes the segregation farther; by it Christ separates what belonged to the Old Testament from that Testament; this bread and wine He sets aside exclusively for the New Testament: “This is the New Testament in My blood.”

You see that this second thanksgiving which was pronounced over the bread and wine throws the helm of the world completely around. That thanksgiving, that event, is momentously important. By it Christ recognizes that in brokenness and death, He must as the Messiah stand at the turning point of history.

Up to this time every eye looked forward to Him; from now on every eye will have to look back upon Him. Until this moment the lamb of the Passover had to serve as symbol and type of the coming Christ. By means of that lamb He taught all men to look forward to Him. But now that the end of the beginning of God’s time has come, now, in this center of the world’s time, now the beginning of the end is approaching. That is why Christ removes the lamb and places Himself upon the table. He places Himself there, and places there also the bread and wine. And He says: Do it in remembrance of me. Do it as a retrospective memorial.

So it is that He asserts Himself as the fulfillment of the lamb of the Passover, as the crown of the Old Testament, as the content of the Supper, and as the cornerstone, the sustaining power, and the Mediator of the new covenant.

Nor could it be otherwise. The Passover lamb was a mere thing, and a religion cannot, in the last analysis, get its support from a thing. We need a person, not a thing; not a shadow of the reality, but the personal reality itself. For that reason Christ puts Himself in the place of the lamb as a person, asserting Himself as the Messiah at the proper time.

All roads lead to this point, all the ways of the world had to meet at this place. For the laughter of mockery had cut its way through the world. The devils had laughed. The Passover had been slain and the blood of a thousand lambs had this very day reeked to the heavens. The true Lamb stood in the midst of the slaughter and no one noticed Him. Therefore hell laughed. The court of the temple was teeming on this same day with these shadow-symbols, with innumerable lambs. But He who was the absolute reality of those symbols passed unnoticed. So hell’s demons laughed. A hundred priests appeared, each supposedly a connoisseur of lambs: these must be tender, unblemished, perfect. And these priests tested the quality of the lambs; that was their duty. But this whole service of testing had become a shockingly superficial routine. The priests did not understand the important meaning of it all, did not see that the requisite of a tender and perfect lamb was but a “shadowy” preface designed to point out the perfect tenderness of the better Lamb who should come, and who should be without sin. See, He is here now, He, the sinless, tender, perfect, unblemished, holy, and “innocent” one. Yet, no one sees Him. Because of the abundance of lambs, people can no longer see the one lamb. And Satan’s sheering mockery shatters the atmosphere with derisive laughter.

Christ hears it; He takes note of the laughter.

He rises to His feet. He sees the vault of heaven arching high over the roof of His house. He counters the mockery of the devil’s laughter, which is tearing the night apart, with His own solemnly earnest voice. His words go out to the spheres as heralds of a King’s will: This is my body, this is my bread, take, eat, do it in remembrance of me. Does the whole world overlook God’s one true Lamb—then It will elevate itself. It forces itself upon the attention of all the believers with a sovereign bearing. He who suppressed nothing outside Himself may impel everything unto Himself in purity and virtue.

That is His fullest right; it is His right to receive worship.

Christ also enters into a pure relationship with the world at the occasion of the institution of the Supper.

This Supper, you must know, is in no sense a private celebration. This most holy Supper is open to the public. Its holiness is not that of the Old Testament. The holiness of seclusion? In essence, yes, the holinesses of the New Testament are also secluded; for the rest this new holiness brushes all curtains aside, pushes every ladder of hierarchy away, and, although insisting upon a holy essence, it displays its holy forms to every eye. The public worship of the New Testament is conducted in front of the curtains.

For this reason the Supper is not exclusively an affair of the church, but affects the whole world. Christ does not take the bread and wine, turn His back to the world, and so in the company of a few “initiates” isolate Himself from the world. No, His actions are “open and above board.” What He offers His disciples at this time, He later allows them as office-bearers to “take over,” in order that they, in turn, may distribute it among others. The Supper is not a sacrifice for “initiates,” conducted behind the curtains; it is a “breaking of bread” in the open court in front of the palace of highest Wisdom, who, while eating, continues to invite others to the feast. By the Supper Christ completely fulfills the priesthood in Himself. Therefore, by it the priesthood becomes general, spreading out among all the believers. It steps away from the curtain, displaying itself to every eye. The Supper is not a sacrifice; it is a breaking of bread.

Precisely, then, because the Supper is not a mystery for a cult but an exercise in communion with the living Christ by faith, that Supper affects the whole world. For Christ affects the world.

Just what is it that Christ tells the world by means of the Holy Supper? How does it happen that this sacrament, although it points back to the inauguration of Israel’s public worship, at the same time has bearing upon the world, is actual, modern, if you will, and a sign and a word of the times?

To explain that we shall have to allude briefly to our preceding chapter. There we observed that the Roman Caesars were letting themselves be worshipped as gods at exactly the time of Christ’s birth. And we pointed out that this coincidence, so far from being accidental, was quite according to the wise direction of God, Who Himself shapes history.

Such deification of kings and Caesars was a religious action. By such conduct the world of that day asserted that the Caesar-king was a kind of mediator capable of uniting the physical world of men on earth to a supersensuous world where God dwelt. Plainly, how very plainly, the world of that day was looking for the mediatorship, and in its own way giving expression to the mediator- concept. It elevated kings. Because the king is the apex of human attainment, it made him a mediator and a god. To call the king, as the most princely and accomplished of men, a god, is to call him the mediator. So a people raises itself up into heaven by means of its king.

In that fashion kings were raised to a position of divine prestige at that time. The lustrous cock upon the tower of Babel was none other than the king-god. The leaders of the people were the stones that went into the formation of the tower, and its top now touched on the heavens. In that way, you see, everyone was reaching heaven in the person of the king.

So did the Roman Caesars have their people name them Lord and God. Thomas says it to Christ: My Lord and my God. In Rome they address Caesar so. The church confesses of Christ that He is Lord. The same word is current in the courts of the dazzling Caesar and king. Herod in his circus paraded before the people in his silvered costume, scintillating from myriad facets under the brilliant sun, and let people burn incense before him with the flattering assurance: The voice of a god, and not of a man. That incident was not the exception but the rule. Such deification, such naming the king a God and not a man was the general practice of the time. Herod was punished; his body was eaten by worms. The penalty did not accrue to him, however, because he allowed himself to be named a god; the same God who has jurisdiction over worms had allowed such haughtiness to continue for years. Herod’s penalty must be explained by the fact that he dared to accept such praise in the shadow of the temple of the living God—close to the supper-table of Christ’

Christ—and this is the point that has bearing upon our discussion—in instituting the supper asserts a kingship which is different in kind from the kingdom of the princes of the world. They can recognize as gods only such heroes as have been anointed with nectar and adorned with splendor. To be a god, the king must move in a medium of glory. God according to this interpretation represents sheer strength and beauty.

The King lurking in the room of the Passover is not so. True, He knows Himself to be the King, for He requests that a memorial be created for Him until the end of the world. No man can enjoin his will upon others more forcefully and strongly than by making a request. But this King, although He wants to be the center of all culture, and therefore bases culture upon religion, makes His appearance in brokenness. Broken bread and poured wine—those will remain the symbols of His kingship until the end of time. Observe that He does not present His brokenness as something that must be quickly overcome and soon forgotten. Standing before the cross, He does not advise His aides to engrave a crown upon His royal weapon, or to embroider a wreath of victory upon His floating banners. On the contrary, although He knows that within a few days His kingdom will be in glory and that the crown and laurel will be handed to Him from above, He nevertheless accepts the cross and desires that the memory of the brokenness of His body and the loss of His blood be perpetuated in the world until the end.

He wants His splendor as a King to be just such brokenness and loss. So Christ declares the law of His own Kingship and Kingdom in opposition to the deification of the earthly king who is able to live only upon the condition of wholeness. He makes His declaration by giving His broken existence, His broken shape and design, form and color in the symbols of broken bread and poured out wine. Thus He declares to the world that which He soon confirmed to Pilate: My kingdom is not of this world. Pilate’s astonishment as expressed in the question, “Art thou, then, a King?” is in the essence of the matter an utterance of amazement prompted by the paradoxical meaning of the Holy Supper. In this way, then, that is, by the sacra coena, Christ denies the kingship of the world with its self-arrogated, divine privileges as well as the mediatorship which that world had conceived. So He preaches to the world the one truth about the real mediatorship between God and man.

Exactly because that Roman practice of exalting kings and Caesars to the plane of the divine was a religious action, the poverty of a paganism which must call its best and most accomplished man a god and mediator appears. The exaltation always took place, of course, by the grace of man. This, then, is just one more instance in which man asserts himself as a very god; he conceives the mediatorship as a self-prompted intervention between himself and the gods. In this case the intervention for man is merely an invention of man. But Christ Jesus, by holding up the picture of a broken King before the world, shows us that the mediatorship cannot be found where man asserts himself, exalting himself in his king, and that it can be found where man (as the Son of man) is crushed, broken, annihilated.

Such is the evangelized significance of the Supper. By putting this festival of a king, this sacrament of a mediator, into the hands of Galilean fishermen, rather than into those of ordained priests, Christ, from the privacy of the room of the Passover was also directing a message to the world. This was the message: Intervention with God for man can only be the invention of God Himself (1 Corinthians 2). May He forbid that the church should ever neglect to preach the world-message contained in the Supper. That Supper has bearing upon the church and therefore affects the whole world.

And, finally, the institution of the Supper affects the church. In instituting it, Christ places Himself in the position of a pure relationship over-against it.

In the first place, He immerses it in the communion with His passion. Notice how He is doing just that in connection with the specific matter we have just been discussing. The Kingship was being deified, the King being called to serve as a mediator. Obviously, therefore, the service of the state will honor the king from this time on only when, as a flawless hero, he is seated on his throne. Accordingly, you see how the Holy Supper of the first Christian church actually was a violation of state law. It represents the confession of a Lord and Mediator other than the pagan world of that epoch chose to honor. Precisely so the Supper became the incorporation of the believers into a communion with the suffering of Christ. From this time forth Christ is making martyrs.

He is fully conscious of the fact that He is doing so.

Only by entering into the communion with His suffering can the believer “fulfill the remnants of Christ’s suffering and exercise communion with the Lord in it.” As often as he wants to feel the power of the Holy Supper burning within him, he must seize upon his Lord, triumph in His death, rise with Him in brokenness to confess that to lose everything in the world’s terms is equivalent to gaining God and His Christ for eternity.

Christ is seeking His church in the Holy Supper. Yes, He has seen the altars in Israel and watched the temple rising from the ground. But altars and temple, both, stood still. That is the pathetic thing, that the places where God creates a memorial to His name are quite static; the kingdom is still immobile, cannot yet go out into the world.

Christ, however, is not static. He takes the bread and He takes the wine; He sends out His fishers of men; He dispatches men and women; later He sends humble shopkeepers from the alleys and by-ways of Asia Minor—these He sends to the farthest parts of the world. Everywhere, now, bread is available, and wine can be obtained; the table is a static altar no longer; it can be set everywhere. Today, you see, the Old Testament almost passes into the New. The Old Covenant was aware of only a few wayfaring places at which God prepared a memorial for Himself; the New will make it possible to prepare such remembrance everywhere—that is, wherever “two” or “three” are gathered in Christ’s name. Ours is a portable supper-table, a movable dish, a cup that can be folded and taken along. The catacombs can accommodate no altars but they can contain a supper table, and that is the blessing God gives His church in the institution of the Supper. The tabernacle traveled; that was a frail beginning of movement; the temple was fixed firmly upon stationary rock; that was the poor sequel. But the highest temple spreads itself over the world, accompanying God’s royal priesthood wherever it may go.

Today the church is seeking the Saviour. Heretofore in moving through the world it waded through blood, the blood of lambs, of steers, and of bullocks. Even the blood of the Passover lamb saturated the earth, soiled the clothes of those who celebrated the feast, almost caused the angels in the presence of God to suffer, reeked up to heaven. The earth could not get enough of it; heaven, it seemed, could not get its fill of blood.

But heaven is satisfied today. In this unique hour the Holy Spirit broods over the room of the Passover and moves the soul of the man Christ, who Himself is also active to that end, to give the Holy Supper to the church. He takes bread; bread is that which has no blood in it. And He takes wine; wine, too, has no blood in it. He takes bread and wine, bloodless symbols both, as His signs. The agonizing bleat of the dying lamb will never rend the atmosphere again; every pain will be subdued by the one cry of the dying Lamb of God: it is finished! By this single shedding of blood every other stream will be effectually stopped.

So Christ puts His church at rest. He chooses His signs for her from the bloodless order of created things, and chooses them from the most ordinary of daily needs, the popular food and the popular drink! By these means He tells His church: The pain has been fulfilled, the grief infinitely multiplied. At My table I give you Myself in complete communion: Take and eat, and create an eternal memorial for Me as your Lord and Servant.

Thus the Supper becomes a festival for angels as well as for men. Of course, the angels do not actually taste of the food, but partaking of it with the lips is not the important thing. True, it is necessary for us to eat of it. But in this matter, too, the needful thing is that we sympathetically turn to God. The main issue in the world is not that we be saved, that we enjoy ourselves, that our faith be confirmed. The final cause, the chief end of all things in this matter also is that Christ create a memorial to Himself, that the one name given under heaven actually be declared among men, in order that so the name of God may be remembered and glorified. God created all things for His own sake. He prepared the Holy Supper for His own sake. If we acknowledge this as the intrinsic essence of the Holy Supper, that in it God enters into the remembrance of faith, in other words, into the community of life with His creature, then we can acknowledge that the angels also partake of the Supper, for it is also their “meat” to create a memorial to the remembrance of God, and in creating it to be edified, and built up in love.

Christ, then, proves to be the Man of sorrows precisely because He acts as a king of glory. The moment in which the sense of royalty and that of menial service meet in the same mind, the former in no sense suppressing the other, is a painful moment. At the same time in which he senses an unmitigated ambition for the kingship, which is whole and unbroken, He has to enjoin upon His disciples the task of celebrating that kingship until the end of the world in the form of His brokenness and humiliation. That conflict in His inevitably significant soul causes Christ a grievous suffering, an unutterable tension.

But the Man of Sorrows also bore this suffering at the institution of the Lord’s Supper willingly and in love.

Rely upon it, His human soul felt crucial pain as He weighed the bread in His hands and poured the wine into cups. In doing so, He saw Himself before His eyes, Himself crucified. Only a few moments later Satan will dangle that placard before His eyes, “Christ being crucified,” and that taunt will drive the sweat of anxiety, the sweat of blood, out of His pores. Here in this hall of the Passover, however, in this meeting-place for the first Holy Supper, Christ courageously and firmly depicts Himself before His eyes, Himself crucified. Although His soul trembles in longing for God, His hand does not betray a quiver. His eye is not darkened, although He offers Himself up to the inertness of death. A secret light glimmers in His eyes and plays upon His face, even while He is depicting Himself, and stamping Himself as a seal upon the heart of His own, the glimmer of light is there, even when He gives Himself away as one broken, when He pushes the sign of His death as close to the moment of that death as is possible. His doing that must cause Him unspeakable anguish, for the closer a thing approaches the thing symbolized, so much more eloquently does its form address, startle, or comfort the human soul. Yet, so profoundly did Christ love His own, that, although the sign and the event signified almost touched each other, He could, nevertheless, prophesy of the meaning of these sacrednesses, could command them, as a King, that they could do this until the end, and, as a Priest, could pray for the Spirit, to enjoin Himself with the sign.

Jesus’ eyes rested calmly upon each of His disciples, yes; but they also peered out into the distance, out to the farthest horizon. There they saw the figure of another.

That other was the Antichrist.

It was the man of sin who taught the thousands to say at that other table, the table of the deification of man, the deification of the king of the world: He is the perfect, the whole, the unbroken one; his glamour will always be his; his flesh will not be broken, nor his blood poured out: Kneel ye all before him, for he is a God, man, and mediator. The voice of a god, and not of a man.

In that guise Jesus sees the Antichrist, he who prepared the festival for the deification of man.

When Christ sees him, wrath springs from the soil of His love. In that moment the zeal of His love, which by means of the Supper would strengthen His people till the end of time, bums ardently; but in it the will to revenge flows hot. Standing beside the supper table He takes it upon Himself to destroy the Antichrist by the sword of His mouth.

We cannot go farther than that.

And we need not go farther. Before our very eyes the Son of man stood in the presence of “the Ancient of days.” His Messianic consciousness drove Him there. Thence He came as God and man.

We cannot go farther; we know nothing more. But what we know and have suffices. We heard His voice: the voice of God, and of man.

Now we know that this Holy Supper is both ancient and modem. It blesses the humblest and curses the proudest. It represents love and wrath, tenderness and force, antithesis and synthesis. We should be in a great darkness in which our feet would stumble upon all those murky mountains, if the Person of Christ had not given Himself to us with the clarity of prophecy, the steadfastness of kingly conduct, and the communion of priestly love.

His grace sufficeth us. Beyond that phrase we may not go: it sufficeth.