This is my third note in a series of five notes on the Lord’s Supper. There are five words that help us think about the meaning and significance of the Lord’s Supper: remembrance, covenant, anticipation, invitation, and examination. Last week I considered what Jesus means when he says, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (1 Corinthians 11:25). This week I want us to see the connection between hope and Communion. After quoting Jesus’s words of institution, Paul writes, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
The Lord’s Supper is a perpetual proclamation of the Lord’s death. Whenever we receive this bread and eat it, whenever we receive this cup and drink it, we declare that Jesus gave his body for us and shed his blood for us. This is a perpetual proclamation, but it’s temporary. We eat and drink at the Lord’s Table, again and again, until he comes. We eat and drink in anticipation of his coming.
Jesus ordained this meal so that we would remember him, and have the assurance of his abiding presence with us, even though we can’t see him. When he comes, however, we won’t need this meal to remember him. We will see him face to face. When he comes, we will eat and drink with him in the great marriage supper of the Lamb, revealed in Revelation 19. All creation will be gathered and Christ the Bride Groom will take his seat at the head table with his bride, the church: “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).
The Lord’s Supper is a foretaste of that future marriage supper. It’s fitting that the portions are small – one bite, one sip – because it’s only a foretaste of the future marriage supper. Our participation in this meal assures us of our reception and participation at that future meal. This is why the Lord’s Supper is a joyful meal, because we eat and drink in hope, knowing that one day Jesus himself will eat and drink with us. For he promises, “I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom” (Matthew 26:29). We eat and drink in remembrance of him, until he comes. We eat and drink in anticipation, in the hope of his coming, when he will drink the fruit of vine anew with us in his Father’s Kingdom.