The Lord’s Supper: A Remembrance of Jesus
“This do in remembrance of me.” — Luke xxii. 19.
“THIS do”— that is, take bread, give thanks, break it, and eat it— take the cup, filled with the fruit of the vine, give thanks, and drink ye all of it. “This do.” Take care that you do just what Jesus did; no more, and no less. This act was done at a table where they had been eating the Passover. This act was performed at a common meal, and was not a sacrifice, nor a celebration, nor a function, nor anything more than a significant eating of bread and drinking of wine after a devout fashion. This do, then. As often as ye break the bread, and as often as ye drink of the cup, remember the Lord Jesus. It is this that we are to do, and not something else which may be supposed to grow out of it. He does not say, “Do something else in remembrance of me— something which you may choose to do, retaining this act as the backbone of it; but this do.” This which has just been done: this in all its simplicity, solemnity, and intent.
Alas, how sadly have men forgotten this! The plain supper has not been a grand enough display. To break bread, and to drink wine, have not seemed to them to be sufficiently solemn, or sufficiently gorgeous, and so they have added all kinds of rites and institutions. That which was only a table, they have made into an altar, and that which was a supper and nothing more, they have changed into a celebration. They do not this, but they do something else which they have devised and elaborated. Imagine Paul or Peter attending mass, and observing the various genuflexions— the movings to and fro, the liftings up, and the stoopings down, and all the various operations of the Roman priesthood too many to describe! Paul would pluck Peter by the sleeve, and say, “Our Master did nothing like this when he took bread and gave thanks and brake it.” Peter would reply, “Very different this from the guest-chamber at Jerusalem!” And Paul would add, “Ay, indeed, my brother, very different this from the time when the first believers met together, and brake bread, and drank of the cup in common, in remembrance of their Lord.”
Whatever other communities may do, be it ours, my brethren, to stand fast by “This do in remembrance of me.” “This” simply “this,” and nothing more, and nothing less; bread, not a wafer; fruit of the vine, not the concoction of chemistry inflamed with fiery spirit. We use this fruit of the vine in a cup, and that cup not reserved, but partaken of by all. We have before us bread, and that not worshipped, as at the elevation of the host; but broken and eaten. The Lord and his disciples sat at a table and ate: it was a feast, and not a sacrifice; they reclined, and did not kneel. So would we do, because he has said, “This do,” and not something else.
Then, beloved friends, we shall have to be very watchful upon another point, namely, that if we do this, we do it for the purpose for which he gave it, namely, in remembrance of him. Jesus never said, “This do, that ye may offer an unbloody sacrifice.” Where in Holy Scripture is there a syllable like it, either from our Lord’s own lips, or from those of the apostles? He never said, “Do this as the perpetual repetition of my death.” To my mind the very thought is blasphemy, for our Lord claims to have finished his work, and having died unto sin once, death hath no more dominion over him. The Jewish sacrifices, by reason of their insufficiency, were often repeated, but “this Man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” They blaspheme the sacrifice of Christ who imagine that any man, call him priest or not, can continue, repeat, or complete that sacrifice for sin. It is finished, and our Lord has gone into his glory. Sin is put away by his bearing it in his own body on the tree. This do ye in remembrance of Christ, but not as continuing his sacrifice, which is for ever perfect.
I would not, for my part, on any account adopt the posture of kneeling in receiving the Lord’s Supper, because if it does not actually imply worship of the bread and wine, it has a tendency to lead us away from remembrance of the person himself into an adoration of the memorials. The sacred supper was a feast, not a ceremony. The posture used at the feast was that of lying along— the easiest posture into which they could put themselves. That is not congruous with our western custom; but the analogous position is that of sitting as much at ease as possible, which posture I would encourage you to persist in. Let us keep the feast as a feast, but by no means kneel as though we were performing an act of worship before an altar. Adoration of the invisible God is always right and proper; but if a certain posture seems to take away from the very essence of the festival— and a festival it is; and if in addition it encourages superstition, then kneel not, but sit, and do this in remembrance of Christ. Do this, and nothing else, and do it in remembrance, and for no other purpose; and if any other posture looks another way, abjure it, and keep close to that for which you have a precedent. The church of Home prizes the great picture by Leonardo da Vinci, and in it all the apostles are seated at the board. Is this at all like the mass? The supper is to be eaten in remembrance, and for nothing more; but that, as we shall have to show you, is no little thing. “This do in remembrance of me.”
Seeing that his is a feast of remembrance, let us ask ourselves a question—Do we know the Lord? “This do in remembrance of me.” If you know nothing of a person; if you have had no acquaintance with him, you cannot remember him. Like a two-edged sword, this simple statement of truth sweeps through this audience tonight, and divides it in twain. Whether or not I may come to the Lord’s table must depend upon whether I know the Lord Jesus, or do not know him. If I am a stranger to him, I may not come, for I may only come to remember him, and I cannot come to remember him if I do not know him; so that it were a profanation of this blessed institution for any man to draw near to the table who does not know Christ already. O sirs, this is no saving ordinance: it was never meant to be; its intent relates only to those who are saved. To know Jesus Christ is eternal life; and as you may not come without that knowledge, it is clear that you may not come unless you are saved. If any of you dream that your participation in your last moments in what is called “the sacrament” will save you, you are under a deep delusion. You may as well trust to the incantations of a witch as to the performance of any ceremony whatever, by whomsoever, in order to convey salvation to you. Salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ; and that is not wrought by the corporeal act of swallowing bread and wine. Ye must be born again; and that is not effected by material substances, however consecrated; it is the work of the Holy Spirit. Until you have believed in Jesus, and so know him, and know his power within you, and have come to personal dealings with him, instead of getting a blessing from the ordinance, you would eat and drink condemnation to yourselves, not discerning the Lord’s body. You are not capable of discerning that body if you have no faith. Let every man examine himself as to his knowledge of our Lord, and so let him eat of this bread and drink of this cup. If you do not know him you cannot remember him, and therefore, hands off from the tokens of remembrance.
One word — one solemn word here, which I would speak with my whole soul. Remember, if you do not know him, the day will come in which he will say to you, “I never knew you.” If there is no personal intimacy between you and Christ, he will disown you in the day when he cometh in the glory of his Father, and all his holy angels with him. It will be idle to say, “Lord, we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.” If you do not know him, he does not know you, and there will be simply this reply to all your claim derived from external religion— “Depart from me, ye cursed, I never knew you.” But, dearly beloved, if you do know the Lord — and I trust that many here do indeed know him— then it is certain that he has manifested himself to you. Wondrous love! Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us? You have looked to him; you have trusted in him; you have lived upon him; and all this because he has remembered you in your low estate. You remember him with joy at this moment because of your past experience of him. He is so dear to you that you must remember him. You could not live without him. He is all your salvation and all your desire. Well, then, it is for you to come to this festival, and do this in remembrance of him.
I. My first point shall be, that THE MAIN OBJECT OF THE LORD’S SUPPER IS EVIDENTLY THAT WE SHOULD REMEMBER CHRIST BY IT. Notice this particularly. It is not that you should call to mind doctrine, though I would not have you ignorant or unmindful of any truth which the Spirit of God has revealed; neither is it that you should be mindful of a precept, though, beloved, I would have you careful that in all things you do your Saviour’s will. But the pith and essence of your business at his table is, “This do in remembrance of me,” that is, of himself— of his own blessed person. Think not of him as an abstraction! Dream not of him as a mere idea! Do not merely contemplate him as an historical personage who was once before men, and has now passed from off the canvas of history, as Confucius, Zoroaster, or the like. No; he ever liveth, and abideth an actual, ever-energetic force and power among men of every age. Jesus is of that divine nature which dwells perpetually in the present tense— the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Beloved, as you live by him, you must learn to live in him, and with him, so as to know him as a friend with whom you are really familiar. The Christ of our dreams is but a dream; we need a real, living, personal Christ, and it is Jesus Christ himself that we have to remember to-night at this table.
And if we do this, we shall remember him, first, with gratitude as our Saviour. If I have aught of hope, I owe it all to thee, incarnate God, Son of the Highest, and Son of Mary, too. Thy love, thy life, thy death, thy resurrection, thy power at the right hand of God— these must be the pillars of my hope, if hope I have at all.
“All our immortal hopes are laid
In thee, our Surety and our Head;
Thy cross, thy cradle, and thy throne,
Are big with glories yet unknown.”
He has saved us, brethren, and loved us, and blest us with everlasting consolation within himself. Oh, let us think of him! The streams of which you drink are sweet; but think of the fountain-head. Your healing is a thing to sing of for ever. Remember that you are healed by his stripes, and think of those cruel scourges, those five wounds, that body covered with a bloody sweat, that dear, thorn-encircled brow, those eyes all dimmed with blood. Remember Jesus himself, I pray you, and think neither of pardon, nor of justification, nor of sanctification apart from him. The streams of love I trace up to the fountain in the heart of Christ, and remember him to-night with deepest gratitude. Follow me, my beloved, in this meditation; yea, go before me, and get more nearly to the heart of your Redeemer.
You must remember him, next, with profound reverence as your living example— your living and reigning Lord. Know ye not that as many of you as have been washed in his blood are henceforth God’s servants, even as he was? You are not to do your own will, but his will who has redeemed you. His example is to you the embodiment of the Lord’s will. Do we not sweetly sing—
“My dear Redeemer and my Lord,
I read my duty in thy Word;
But in thy life the law appears
Drawn out in living characters”?
It is yours, then, to remember the Lord Jesus that you may follow him. In sickness, recollect him in his patience. When you are persecuted, recollect him in his gentleness. In holy service, remember him with his burning zeal. In your times of solitude, remember him and his midnight prayers; and when you are in public, and have to bear witness, remember him and his lion-like declarations of the gospel. Remember him so that he becomes your pattern, and you are the reproduction of himself, and so the best memorial of him.
Thus enabled by the Holy Spirit to remember your Lord with gratitude as your Saviour, with reverence as your Lord, you will remember him with confidence as your strength. He has not left you in this world to serve him at your own charges, and to bear his cross alone. Remember him, for he remembers you so as to be ever with you. “Lo, I am with you alway,” saith he, even unto the end of the world.” Will you let him be near you unnoticed and unremembered? Never say, “I am lonely.” You are not alone if you remember Jesus. O widow and fatherless one, say not, “I am comfortless.” He hath said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” Remember him without ceasing. When you are strong, remember him; for your strength comes from him. When you are weak, remember him; for he can give you the help you need. Oh, that in all times and places Christ were all in all to us!
“Remember thee! thy death, thy shame
Our hearts’ sad load to bear!
O memory, leave no other name
But his recorded there!”
I would have the image of my Lord printed on the palms of my hands, that I might do nothing without him; and I would have it painted on my eye-balls, that I might see nothing except through him. It were better still to have it stamped upon the heart, that my very life might not beat except to the music of his name.
Remember him, too, beloved, as your great representative before the throne of God. O believer, at this very moment heaven is yours! Jesus, your forerunner, has taken possession of eternal glory in your name. The throne of God has in the midst of it the glorified Man, the everlasting Son of God, who is the Covenant Head and Redeemer of his people. Never forget him, but keep your eye fixedly upon him, even as he keeps his eye upon you. He lives! The great Redeemer lives! He lives to plead for you. Do not get into the habit of the Romish church, which exhibits its dead Christ everywhere, or its baby Christ in the virgin’s arms. Jesus is neither of these at this present. “He is not here: he is risen.” He lives! It is the living Christ that we believe in, the ascended Christ we are trusting in, the Christ to come that we are hoping for. There, where he pleadeth with all authority, is our grand hope, for “He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
Remember him, once again, as soon to come. Perhaps while yet these lips are feebly fashioning halting words concerning wondrous mysteries, the trumpet may ring out above all earthly sounds. Even on this Sabbath night we may be called to behold the cloud upon which the Son of Man has come! “Of that day and hours knoweth no man”; and vain is the folly which is perpetually prophesying of that concerning which it knoweth nothing. Yet this is certain: the Lord Jesus will come to judge and to reign. “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh.” He said long ago, “Behold, I come quickly.” He has been coming in haste ever since, and he must be drawing very near. Now, this is what we are always to remember, for his coming will be the manifestation of his people as well as of himself. His coming will witness the reward of his saints as well as his own reward. Then shall he shine forth; and with him “the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
Alas, we too much forget him in all these aspects! I fear that we more easily forget than remember; and yet the remembrance of one so dear should be natural to us. Did you suspect, when you were first converted, that you could ever forget him? “Oh, no,” you said—
“Let the babe forget its mother,
Let the bridegroom slight his bride;
True to thee, I’ll love no other,
Clinging closely to thy side.”
So we said, but not so have we done. How often we act as if we had not the living Christ to run to! We fret as if Jesus were still lying in the sepulchre. We act as if we were going to live here for ever, and did not expect our Lord to come and take us away to be with him. We act as if we had no Master but our own wanton will. We act despairingly as if we had no Shepherd to take care of us, and no Saviour who had redeemed us with his precious blood. Come, brethren, this will never do. It is dishonourable to our Lord, and disgraceful to ourselves. You see the reason why the supper should have been instituted: our treacherous memories require it. Let us gather to it as to a most needful though right royal feast; for we have need to be reminded of our own dear Lord, who sweetly says to us, “This do in remembrance of me.”
II. And now I take a second point. I want to show you all that THE MODE WHICH OUR LORD HAS ORDAINED OF HELPING OUR MEMORIES IS IN ITSELF EXCEEDINGLY STRIKING. It could not be more so. If I stood opposite to an altar garnished with paper roses and other childish things, and if I were to try and perform, before you all, some of these prettinesses which are considered sacred by the followers of Rome, I should want a long time to explain it all to you; and when I had done my best, you would not be able to make head or tail of it. I have stood and watched the Catholic priest at the altar with the earnest desire to see if there was anything to be learned, and I could not learn anything. I could not make out what the ornamental person was at. I think I have read as much as most people about such things; but it does seem to me that if the behaviour of the priest at the mass be a symbol, it is a very dark one: if it is intended to teach the people, they need to know a great deal before they can learn anything from it. Surely to find anything in the mass, the devout must bring it with them, for there is nothing there. But if you take the cloth from yonder table, you will see before you simply bread and wine; and when you see us celebrate the ordinance to-night, you will notice that we do nought but break the bread and eat it, and pass round the wine-cup and drink therefrom. All that is done is extremely simple; and the Saviour seemed to wish for that simplicity, because he was himself a very simple, unaffected, plain man. All the pomp that he ever had was when he rode through Jerusalem; but it was on a colt, the foal of an ass. Even then all the pomp consisted in this, that the people laid their garments in the road and strewed branches along the way in the excess of their joy. Golden ornaments, and flowers, and incense, and acolytes are far removed from his plain and natural habits. Only fancy some of his disciples rising from the dead and stepping into—well—St. Paul’s cathedral, which is called Protestant, but is about as Popish as it very well can be. Supposing they walked in there—James and John together—the two sons of Zebedee. Perhaps, stopping before some of the pretty things, James would wonderingly ask, “John, where have we got?” And John would say, “We are in a chamber of imagery, a temple of idols. Our Lord Jesus would not be happy here.” “Why,” says James, “it is Paul’s church; fetch him in.” Surely when Paul came in, and looked at all those images and decorations, he would say, “Here I see another gospel, which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” That is putting it mildly. We are getting to have the idolatries of Rome set up in the churches called national; and this is not done by those called, outwardly and honestly, Romanists, but by those who are really so in their hearts, and yet wear the Protestant name. The Lord Jesus Christ was just a simple peasant at Galilee, and the dress he wore was analogous to our common smock-frock, a garment “without seam, woven from the top throughout.” There was not a bit of stateliness or affectation about him; and in all that he ordained you cannot find one single pompous ceremony. His followers were baptized in water, but where did he ordain salt, and oil, and spittle? Where did he bid them make the sign of the cross or set forth sponsors? His followers gathered for worship and sang hymns in his praise, but where were their “thurifers,” and their “crucifers”? Where were “the stations of the cross”? Where are all these things in the Scriptures? They are inventions of later and darker days, but Jesus knew nothing of them; neither did his apostles and those who followed them know anything of such rubbish. It was all plain telling out of the dear love of God to men, and of how men should love one another, and love Jesus as their Saviour; and that was all. Our Lord instituted this simple supper as the memorial of a plain, simple, honest Saviour, who had no gaudy tricks or priestcraft about him, but was simply a man among men.
But, next, our Lord’s Supper was intended to be very frequent. “This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” He has laid down no rule as to when we shall break bread; but the custom was certainly to break it on the first day of the week, and I think oftener, for it seems to me that they broke bread from house to house. It was not a ceremony that required a minister or a priest. When believers were together they broke bread in memory of Christ— any two or three of them— and so they remembered him. It is most delightful, when travelling, to remember Christ in your own room, where two or three brethren meet together. You have nothing to do but to break bread and drink wine in remembrance of him. I know of nothing more sweet or more instructive than this divine ordinance, which grows more impressive the oftener you attend to it. It ought to be frequent. Our Scotch friends were wrong as wrong could be in having it so seldom; but they are mending. The frequency of it is to show how often we need to be reminded of our dear Lord, for we are prone to forget him. We ought always to remember him; and therefore an institution intended to keep up our memory should be frequently used. Since he bids his disciples do it often, there is an instruction in it that we should constantly remember him in our inmost souls. Inasmuch as he gave this for a memorial, and for nothing else, and gave it to all his disciples, bidding all his followers, until he should come, do this in remembrance of him, it was to show that we all need to remember him, and all need help to do so. We are all forgetful: the best Christian, highest in grace, still needs this memorial, for he is apt to forget. Backsliding Christians need it, if possible, still more, that their failing memories may be revived. Sinners will do well to look upon it, for it may be that the memorials of the Lord’s death may cause them to remember their sins, and turn to their Saviour.
But to come a little closer to the table. I want you to notice that when our Lord bids us remember himself — “This do in remembrance of me”— he gives us an ordinance which brings before us his death. Now, this, though it looks a very trite saying, is a very important point. The bread is his flesh, the wine his blood. They represent those two things. But they are separated: the bread is not in the wine, nor the wine in the bread. The two in separate vessels represent a body with the blood separated from it, and thus they are the token of death. Very well, then. When the Lord says, “This do in remembrance of me,” he gives us a memorial of his death, which plainly teaches us that the chief point of remembrance in our Lord Jesus is his death. He himself regarded his death as the very centre, heart, and soul of what he would fix on our memories. Therefore those who say that his example is everything, or his teaching is everything, do greatly err; for when we remember him, the first thing to be remembered is, “He hath redeemed us to God by his blood.” “Redeemer” is the name to which our memories must most tenaciously cling. His blood, his redemption, his atonement, his substitutionary sacrifice are always to be kept to the front. “We preach Christ crucified,” and you believe in Christ crucified. The reason of our success under God in this house of prayer is, that we have always preached Christ as the atoning sacrifice, the sinner’s substitute; and whosoever shall preach this boldly, clearly, and thoroughly, putting it as the crown of the gospel system, shall find God bless his word. As for you, if you would have comfort, and joy, and peace, cling to the cross; look steadily to the accepted sacrifice. Never get away from your Lord Jesus; and when you remember him, let his passion be the main thought which rises before you.
Next, notice another thing: this festival reminds us of the covenant of grace. Our Lord Jesus Christ, while he bade us remember himself, said of the cup, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” That is the word. Bead “testament,” if you prefer it; but I feel sure you are nearer the sense when you read "the new covenant in my blood.” What, then? When I am to remember Jesus himself, I am to take the cup which is the token of the covenant. Ah, beloved! you cannot know Christ thoroughly unless you understand the doctrine of the two covenants, and connect him with the covenant of grace. You must know that “covenant, ordered in all things, and sure”; for the cup is to remind you of it, by reminding you of him. Christ is best seen when you see him in his covenant relationship. Do you all know about that covenant? You know there was a covenant made with Adam in which we were all included; but that covenant failed. Father Adam broke it, and we all lost the blessing which his obedience would have procured us. There is another covenant made with the second Adam, Christ Jesus, and because he has kept the covenant, all that are in that covenant stand for ever in him. “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive” who are in Christ. The one covenant ruined all that were in it; the second covenant saves all that are in it. As we take that cup, we do own and accept joyfully our interest in that covenant which was made with Christ, which is established on the sure foundation of his perfect obedience. Behold the blood of the everlasting covenant! May the Lord Jesus be brought to your memory to-night as your covenant head and surety; and as you drink of the cup, may you feel confidence and joy in him who is your Surety! May your soul sing, “Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure. This is all my salvation, and all my desire.” You see, then, the oceans of instruction which lie in one of the emblems. Lose none of it.
But there is yet one more thing. It is this. You are taught by this institution that the very best way in which you can remember Christ is by receiving him. Oh the sweetness of that truth if you will remember it when you come to this table! You are not asked to bring bread with you. It is here. You are not asked to bring a cup with you. It is here already provided. “What have you to do? Nothing but to eat, and to drink. You have to be receivers, and nothing more. Well, now, whenever you want to remember your Lord and Master, you need not say, “I must do something for him.” No, no, let him do something for you. “Take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.”
“The best return for one like me,
So wretched and so poor,
Is from his gifts to draw a plea,
And ask him still for more.”
Lord, I cannot love thee as I would love thee, but I can accept thy love. Let thy love drop into my heart just now. Lord, I cannot serve thee as I would, but I adore thee because thou dost become my servant, and wash my feet as thou didst thy disciples’. Lord, I cannot bring thee coals of fire out of my chilly heart; but here is my heart, come thou, and cast the coals of fire of thine own divine love into it!
O my brethren, come and receive; come and receive! Now, I think this is a very sweet intimation to those of you who feel as if you had nothing to come with. You do not need to come with anything except your hunger and thirst. A man that is invited to a meal need not say, “Oh, but I have no bread.” You are asked to a royal feast, and you need not bring bread with you. He that invites you to his table will provide you with all you want; and, when you desire to remember him, your surest and best plan is to enjoy the good things which he sets before you. I have thus shown how suitable the ordinance is to help our memories.
III. Now, lastly, THE OBJECT FOR WHICH WE ARE TO COME, NAMELY, TO REMEMBER CHRIST, IS ONE WHICH IS IN ITSELF MOST INVITING. Let me show you what I mean. There is one here who cries, “I have forgotten my Saviour. I did love him. I hope my love has not quite gone, but I seem to be very chill and cold. Alas! I have forgotten my Lord.” Where should you go to have that love revived and refreshed? Should you not come where you will be helped to remember him? He says, “This do in remembrance of me.” You say that you have forgotten your Lord. Come, and remember him again. Do not stay away, but come with all the more eagerness. Remember him as you did at first, when you came laden with guilt, and full of fears, and when you just cast yourself upon your Lord, and found peace. Come, and rest in him over again. Dear brother, you that are afraid that your first profession was a mistake, come and begin again at the table. We have got into midsummer, and the plants put out the midsummer shoot, you know: I want you to put out new shoots also. What! do you say that it is long since you thought of growing? It is time to think of it again. If the spring shoot seems to have grown old, now is the time for a midsummer shoot, for a new beginning. Begin with Christ over again. Repent and do your first work. “This do in remembrance of me.” Does not that exactly suit you who fear that you have for a while forgotten him?
“Oh, but I feel so weak.” Yes, but when a little child is very weak, there is still one thing which it can surely do: it can remember its mother. Memory is often quickened by our need: it is well when our sense of weakness makes us remember where our great strength lieth. Remember then the Lord who is your strength and your song, for he also hath become your salvation. Now, you poor little weak ones, where are you to-night? How gladly would I help you; but what better help can you desire than that which your Lord sets before you in these dear memorials of his death! I know that some of you have been cruelly pushed about of late. The strong ones have said sharp things to you. Your Lord invites you to a cheering exercise, which shall help you to forget the ill-behaviour of the proud. Poor, timid, trembling, half-believing, half-doubting one, and yet truly the Lord’s, come to the table, come to remember your loving Redeemer! It is painful to remember yourself, but it will be sweet to remember him. “Oh,” say you, “I cannot forget him.” I am glad you cannot. Still, come hither and indulge your memory to-night, and say—
“Gethsemane, can I forget,
Or there thy conflict see,
Thy agony and bloody sweat,
And not remember thee?
When to the cross I turn my eyes,
And rest on Calvary,
O Lamb of God, my Sacrifice,
I must remember thee.”
There is one more thing I am going to say, and I feel half ashamed to say it. Some professedly Christian people urge that they cannot come to the table because there are certain persons there who, in their judgment, should not be allowed to come. Is the Lord’s table to be a judgment-seat, whereat we are to revise the verdict of the church? “I cannot,” said one to me, “join a church, because I cannot find one that is perfect.” No, I said, and if you do not join a church till you do find a perfect one, you must wait till you get to heaven; and, besides, my dear friend, if you ever find a perfect church they will not take you in; for I am sure they would not be perfect any longer if they did. One sickly sheep would then have passed into the fold. So it is idle for you to be looking out for perfection.
“But there is a person at communion who acted inconsistently.” That is highly probable; and he may be wearing your coat, and looking out of your eyes. If you know of any case of open sin, let the elders of the church be informed, and it will be dealt with tenderly and firmly. In so large a church as this there may be cases of evil living not known to the overseers of the flock; but we invite the co-operation of all in maintaining the purity of the entire body, and we trust that we have it. But now, really what have you to do with the faults of others when you are remembering Christ Jesus? Surely this is the most unseasonable time for harsh judgments, or indeed for any judgments. I know many a brother with whom I could not agree in certain points, but I agree with him in remembering the Lord Jesus. I could not work with him in all things; but if he wants to remember Jesus, I am sure I will join him in that. It will do him good, and it will do me good, to think of Jesus. That dear name is so sweet to me that I will remember Jesus with the poorest, meanest, and most imperfect of mortals.
I am never happier than when I am in your midst, my beloved brethren, and we all sit around the table, because I think of all the Lord has done for you and for me. "Why, it is not worth while going to heaven alone. A little lost child sits down on the doorstep of a West-end mansion and cries because it is so lonely: is that to be our position in heaven? Are we to take no friends there with us? Who wants to be solitary in the New Jerusalem? But oh, to come with all of you to the table, and to look into the faces of all God’s people, and to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is in each one of them! They are a poor lot, full of mistakes, full of errors, full of infirmities, just like their minister; but the Lord has loved them, and bought them with his blood. A precious Christ he is, not only to have saved me, but tens of thousands of his saints everywhere; for there are people of his in all churches, even in the churches that are most full of error. He has redeemed by his precious blood his own elect in the midst of them all. Why, the sight of you helps me to recollect Jesus, and to get a better idea of him— both your Christ, and my Christ; and not our Christ alone, but the Christ of all the myriads redeemed by blood. Shall I then set myself up for a judge, and say, “No, I will not remember my Lord, because one of the brethren does not behave properly”? What would you say to your child if he said, “Father, I shall not come to see you on your birthday; I shall not join with the rest of the family in the usual festival”? Why not? “Because my brother is not what he ought to be; and till he mends his ways, I shall not keep your birthday.” Your father would say, “My dear son, is that any reason why you should not remember me? Surely I am not to blame for what your brother does. Come to the feast, and think of me.” So do I say to you if you have any personal angers and differences, do not smother them, but end them. Do not come to the table till you have got rid of them, for you have no right to come; but end all wrath at once. Get rid of every ugly feeling you have towards everybody in the world, and love all believers in Christ for Christ’s sake, and then come to this table, and you will find it help you to remember your Master as you shall join with others who remember him. I think I may say that you will not be likely to see anybody at the table worse than yourself. So come along, and let not pride keep you back. May God’s infinite mercy bless the Lord’s Supper to the Lord’s people!
And as for those that cannot come and remember him because they do not know him, may they this night go home and seek him; and if they seek him, he will reveal himself to them. If you desire Christ, Christ desires you. If you have a spark of love to him, he has a furnace full of love to you; and if you want to come to him and trust him to save you, come and welcome. The Lord bless you, for his name’s sake! Amen.