On the night he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus wanted to give his people a sign of his covenant love. As God had once assured Noah with a rainbow, and lifted Abraham’s eyes to the stars, and sanctified the Sabbath for Israel, so now Jesus wanted to give his disciples, and us, some tangible token of his promises, some visible seal of his faithfulness. And so, he broke a loaf of bread, and he poured a cup of wine.
Bread and wine, loaf and cup: in these two ordinary elements, our crucified, risen, and reigning Lord declares to us his victories. He tells us who we are. And he gives us a taste of his coming kingdom, when once again he will preside over a supper, this time with no coming sorrow.
And yet, if we are going to receive Christ’s covenant love in this meal, and not just bread and wine — or crackers and juice, as the case may be — we need the meaning of the elements clear in our minds. As John Calvin writes, “Assuredly this is the chiefest thing in all sacraments, that the word of God may appear engraven there, and that the clear voice may sound.”
What word, then, has Jesus engraved upon the bread and the cup? What voice sounds forth from the Supper?
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