The Lord's Table

by Andrew Murray

Book and Audio Reading

Chapter 1

 

 

Part 3

PART III
The Week after the Supper

Too soon we rise: the symbols disappear.

The feast, though not the love, is past and gone;

The bread and wine remove, but thou art here,

Nearer than ever, still my Shield and Sun.

I have no help but thine: nor do I need

Another arm save Thine to lean upon;

It is enough, my Lord, enough indeed;

My strength is in Thy might, Thy might alone.

Mine is the sin, but Thine the righteousness;

Mine is the guilt, but thine the cleansing blood;

Here is my robe, my refuge and my peace

Thy blood, Thy righteousness, O Lord my God.

Feast after feast thus comes and passes by,

Yet, passing, points to the glad feast above,

Giving sweet foretaste of the festal joy,

The Lambs great bridal feast of bliss and love.

--Horatius Bonar.

I. MONDAY MORNING
The Power of the Food

My flesh is meat indeed and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood abideth in Me and I in Him. -- John 6:55.

 

Life must be fed with life. In corn the life of nature is hid, and we enjoy the power of that life in bread. As with the body, so is it with the spirit. The body is fed by the visible, the changeable life: the spirit must be fed with the invisible, unchangeable life of heaven.

It was to bring to us this heavenly life that the Son of God descended to earth. It was to make this life accessible to us that He died like the seed corn in the earth, that His body was broken like the bread grain. It is to communicate this life to us and to make it our own, that He gives Himself to us in the Supper.

By His death Jesus took away the cause of our everlasting hunger and sorrow, namely, sin. The spirit of man, his undying part, can live only by God, who only hath immortality. Sin separated man from God, and an eternal hunger and an eternal thirst of death were now his portion. He lost God, and nothing in the world can satisfy his infinite cravings. Then comes Jesus. He takes sin away and brings it to nought in His body, and gives us that body to eat and to do away with sin in us. Since in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily, whenever I receive and enjoy Him, not only have I the forgiveness of sins, but the life of God, the life of heaven is implanted within me.

Wonderful grace: may I understand it aright. The man who uses the Lords Supper aright is one that is distinguished from other men by the fact that he has partaken of the Bread of Life. He has really received Jesus Christ into his innermost being, and with Him the powers of the eternal life, as this is the life of heaven. It is to bring His own eternal life near to us, that God has given His Son as the food of the soul.

Glorious food: wonderful heavenly bread: what a heavenly life it imparts to us. Love to God, blessed rest, real holiness, inward power, all that characterizes the life that is enjoyed in heaven, all that shall be in me the fruit of this Bread of Life.

Let me remember and believe the wonderful virtue of the food with which I am fed. Let me have strong expectations that this food shall work out its divine energy in me. Let me walk joyfully and full of courage, knowing that I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me. For He gives me strength. He dwells in me. He is my food.

Prayer.

O how wonderful is Thy grace, my precious Lord, that Thou Thyself hast become my food, which abides in me, gives me strength, and upholds and increases the life that is in me.

Lord, I have but one boon to crave of Thee this morning. It is this: that Thou wouldst increase my faith, that I may know aright what Thou art prepared to be to me. I feel that this is especially to be blamed as my weakness that I do not understand what Thou art willing to be and to do for me.

Precious Lord, make me to know this. Strengthen my faith to say continually: Jesus abides in me, Jesus is my food: fed with such nourishment, my life shall be powerful for the glorifying of God. Strengthen my faith to appropriate Thee continually for all my needs. Thou art the Provision in every necessity, the satisfaction of every desire. Strengthen my faith, Lord, to think no more of my weakness but of Thine own power: for Thou, O my Lord, Thou art always my food, my power of life. And strengthen my faith especially to receive this my heavenly food daily as its nourishment, to open my mouth wide every day, in order that it may be filled with Thee, with Thyself.

Lord Jesus, my food, which abides in me, Thou wilt surely do this for me. Amen.

II. TUESDAY MORNING
Sanctification

Sin no more. -- John 5:14, 8:11.

 

Thus Jesus spake to the sick man whom He had healed at the pool of Bethesda. Thus He spake also to the woman whom He liberated from the hand of her persecutors. Thus He speaks to every soul to which He has shown mercy, whose sickness He has healed, and whose life He has redeemed from destruction. Thus He speaks to everyone who goes forth from the blessed feast of the Supper: Go hence: sin no more.

It was in order to save from sin that God sent His Son, that Jesus gave His life and His blood, that the Spirit came down from heaven. The Redeemer cannot suffer a, ransomed soul to go from the table of the covenant, without hearing anew this glorious word: Henceforthlet there be no more sin. In the presence of the Cross and what thy sin cost Him, in view of His love and all the blessings which He has bestowed upon you, this word comes with divine power: Go hence: sin no more.

But, Lord, must I not always sin? In me dwelleth no good thing. I thought that the Christian continues to sin to the end.

And have I not redeemed thee from the power of sin? Does not My Spirit dwell in you? Am not I Myself your sanctification?

But, Lord, can anyone, then, in this life be entirely holy?

The sinful nature you shall continue to have, but its workings can be overcome. You may become more holy every day. I am prepared to do for you above all that you dare ask or think.

O my beloved Lord, I would so very fain be holy. Thou knowest how sin grieves me, how I pant after holiness. O, pray, teach me how I can be holy.

Soul, I am thy sanctification. Abide in Me and thou shalt be holy. Entrust thyself to Me: I shall keep you holy. Believe in Me, that I shall fulfill My word. Let My word, My will, My mind, keep thy thoughts, thy heart occupied. Let Me dwell in thine heartthy heart be full of Me: that will keep sin outside.

O Lord, may it only be so in my case.

Soul, fall down before Me, bring thyself to Me in sacrifice. Be not faithless, but believing. Look not upon thy weakness, or upon all that which is dead. Give Me the honor of being strong in faith, and confident that what I have promised, I am mighty and faithful to do, and it shall be to thee according to thy faith.

Lord, I come.>I fall down before Thee to dedicate myself now as a sacrifice to Thee.

Prayer.

(of a soul that surrenders itself to the Lord to be purified from every sin)

 

Blessed Lord, Thou art my sanctification. From Thee I have not only the command, but in Thee the power to go hence and to sin no more. Lord, now I give myself anew to Thee, and declare myself ready to be purified from every sin.

Of every known sin, of which I am already convinced, I do this very moment make renunciation. However deeply it may be rooted, however little I feel power to overcome it, in Thy name, my blessed Redeemer, I Hereby renounce it. I surrender myself to Thee to combat and overcome it in Thy strength. Lord, here am I, in order that Thou mayest cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Lord, this is my prayer: whatever it may cost me, through whatever pain or humiliation it may be achieved, take my sin from me. Lord, spare no single sin: make me holy.

And no less for the sin in me that is still unknown to myself, sin which Thy people or the world or Thou Thyself mayest see in me, but which my own self-love has not yet been willing to acknowledge, I place myself in Thy hands. Lord, make it known to me: use friend or foe to discover it, but, pray, let not my sin continue longer hid from me. I would fain know it, in order that I may bring it to Thee, and that Thou mayest cleanse me from it.

And strengthen my faith, precious Saviour, that I may very joyfully reckon on Thee to show Thyself to me as my sanctification. Thou art my Surety, who has not only atoned for the old guilt, but art also in a position to secure that every day and every moment the requirements of Gods law may be fulfilled by me. Lord, cause me to believe this, and by a life of unceasing trust to experience how constantly Thou wilt keep and cleanse the soul. Then shall I go away from every observance of the Supper, to show anew that thou art my daily bread, and my daily strength: that Thy life is the life of my life and that Thou hearest my prayer:

 

"Jesus, come and live in me.
That I may ever, holy be."

 

Lord, here am I now, surrendered to Thee, to be kept and sanctified in Thee. On Thy word, I confidently cast myself. Amen.

III. WEDNESDAY MORNING
Obedience

Jesus said: My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work. -- John 4:34.

 

I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Jesus had a hidden manna that He received from the Father, and that was the secret of His wonderful power. The nutriment of His life He received from God in heaven. No one could have discovered what it was; but when He tells it to us, it appears so simple that many a one gets puzzled over it. My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.

Food is the meeting of need, satisfaction. The hunger of Jesus, the yearning of Jesus, extended only to one thing: to please God. Without that He could not rest; in that one thing, He had all He required. And when He found the will of God, He did it, and thereby at once fed His soul with its appropriate food, and was satisfied.

Food involves appropriation, the exercise of fellowship. The weak soul, who truly surrenders himself to do the will of God, becomes thereby wonderfully strengthened. Obedience to God, instead of exhausting the energies, only renews them. The doing of Gods will was the food that Jesus had.

Food involves quickening and joy. Eating is not only necessary as medicine for strength, but is also in itself something that is acceptable, and imparts pleasure. To observe a feast in the spirit is itself equivalent to food. Obedience to the will of God was Jesus highest joy.

As One who did the will of God, Jesus became our Saviour (Heb. 10:9, 10). He therefore that trusts in Him, receives Him as the fulfiller of the will of God, and with Him receives also the will of God as his life.

Now, then, Jesus has become my meat; and He Himself dwells in me as the power of my life. And now I know the means by which this life must be fed and strengthened within me. The doing of Gods will is my meat. The doing of Gods will was for Jesus the bread of heaven; and since I have now received Jesus Himself as my heavenly bread, He teaches me to eat what He Himself ate: He teaches me to do the will of God. That is the meat of my soul. I received the same Spirit that was in Him, and it became truth for me, as for Him. My meat, the highest satisfaction of my soul, fellowship with God, renewal of my energies, an unbroken feast of joy, is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work. Thus the feast of the Supper is prolonged in the continued life of obedience to the will of God.

Prayer.

Eternal God, I thank Thee that in Thy Son Thou hast enabled us here on earth to contemplate the glorious life of heaven. I thank Thee for the sight of Him who, in the execution of Thy will found His meat, His life. Lord God, in the Supper Thou hast given me this Son in order that His life may become my life, and His Spirit my spirit. Lord, make me so thoroughly one with this Jesus, that I also, like Him, shall find my meat in the will of the Father.

Lord Jesus, it is a continued feast that Thou hast prepared for me. Every day I also may do the will of my Father. May this obedience be to me the continuation of the banquet of the Supper. Make my soul crave with an insatiable hunger to know the will of God in everything. Do Thou Thyself with Thy Divine power fulfill in me all obedience, and let my inner life thereby become all the stronger and more joyful.

Lord, I desire to confess before Thee how little I still have of true spiritual insight into the will of God. Lord, give me of Thy Spirit, in order that I may be transformed by the renewing of my mind, and so prove what is that good and perfect and acceptable will of God. Bring me to that blessed frame of mind in which, like Thee, my Lord, I shall refuse to do anything, unless I know that it is the will of the Father. Strengthen my faith, that by the Spirit Thou mayest make me to understand this will more fully, and in order that I may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

O, my Saviour, how shall my soul then be satisfied and praise Thee when all that I do is only obedience to the prayer: Our Father, Thy will be done, as in heaven so on earth.

Lord, give me always this food. Amen.

IV. THURSDAY MORNING
Work

If any will not work, neither let him eat. -- 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

 

That is true of the poor sluggard: he has nothing to eat. It is also true of the hireling: he cannot expect that his master will give him food to eat if he does not do his work. It is also true of the rich sluggard: although he has abundance, if he does not work he lacks the hunger that makes food acceptable.

And it is no less true, on the other hand, of spiritual food. The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink: there least of all may the bread of idleness be eaten. Israel had to eat the Passover, with loin girt, sandals on the feet, and staff in hand, ready to undertake the journey to Canaan in the strength of the food enjoyed.

Now, may not this fact discover to us the reason why, for many, the blessing imparted at the Supper is not greater than it is? They desire to partake of it in order to have an enjoyable festal hour, to be satisfied with blessed pleasures and glorious experiences. But they do not reflect that the Lord has prepared food for His children that they may be strengthened to go and work in His vineyard. They do not work for their Lord: they do not know what they ought to do: they do not consider the matter: and thus they have often to complain of darkness and loss of blessing at the Lords Supper.

If any will not work, neither let him eat: If any will work, let him eat.

Alike in nature and in grace there is one law. He that desires to eat for the sake only of getting the food and for the satisfaction of his appetite, shall speedily lose the enjoyment of the food. He that eats to become strong and to work, shall find the food always accompanied with relish and imparting strength.

Christian, once again you have eaten: now is the time for work. Work the work of your Lord: live and work for the interests of His kingdom, and He will see to it that you have your food, and that the food will prove to you a source of relish and blessing. As it is in the service of an earthly parent, so is it in that of the Heavenly Father: the best preparation for the Lords Supper is to have done faithfully the will of the Father, and to have finished His work. It was when Abraham returned from the campaign for the deliverance of Lot that Melchisedek, the priest of the Most High God, set before him bread and wine. To him that overcometh, says Jesusto him that works and strives and overcomeswill I give to eat of the hidden manna.

Prayer.

Holy Lord my Redeemer and my Friend, it is my desire to work for Thee. I know that Thou hast given Thyself for us for this end, that Thou mightest have us for Thyself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. I know that there is no blessedness save in doing the will of the Father and finishing the work: He has given me. Lord, I come to Thee, in the joy and courage and power that the food which Thou Thyself hast prepared as the nutriment of my soul imparts, to ask of Thee my work.

I believe, Lord, that there is work for me, and that Thou wilt point out that work to me. Often have I desired to work for Thee according to my own feelings, and I have failed to win success. Lord Jesus, do Thou point out to me the work that I must do. Thou art my food and my strength. Thou art also my light and my leader. Let Thy Spirit so dwell in me that I shall be able to discern His voice, and, stimulated by Him, may carry out my work for souls.

Lord, I have eaten the bread of heaven: I will live to do the work of Heaven. Heavenly food brings heavenly strength, and heavenly strength brings heavenly work. Lord, make me to be Thy fellow-laborer, and teach me, like Thyself, to give my life to the work of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let my greatest joy be like that which prevails in heaven over the sinner that repenteth.

That work will cause me to feel the need of Thy divine power. That work will prepare me also to enjoy Thy food aright. That work will make every observance of the Supper more glorious for me, as a still deeper exercise of communion with Thee. So be it, O my Lord. Amen.

V. FRIDAY MORNING
Fellowship with Jesus

And lo, I am with you alway (all the days), even unto the end of the world. -- Matthew 28:20.

 

For you: that was one of the words of Jesus at the table.

With you: this is no less His promise, when you go away from the table. As real and complete and certain as His suretyship was, when He bore sin and gave His life for you, so real and certain is the fellowship which He holds out to you when He says, I am with you all the days. If the for you was in every respect undivided and all sufficient, He means the with you to be in every respect just as undivided and inseparable.

And the one is, like the other, a word of faith: a word that unfolds itself only to faith. For you was in the first instance a truth that you found it impossible to receive. But the Spirit of God brought you up to the point of reception, and you were enabled to say, Yes: Jesus for mein my place: it is all finished for me. And this is now the sure and deep confidence of your soul. Even thus shall it be with this other word, with you. Too often it appears as if it were not true, as if it could not possibly be true. At other times you could not live long if you felt yourself to be so sinful and miserable as you are. And yet it is true that Jesus is with you. Only you do not know it, you do not enjoy it, because you do not believe it. But as soon as you learn to rely, not upon your own feeling or on your own experience, but on what He has promised, and to direct your expectations according to faith in that which He hath said, namely, that He will be with you, it will become your blessedness. The with you is just as certain and complete as the for you.

I am with you. Jesus Himself abides with His own: the certainty of His presence and love, which will not abandon us. He, the Living, the Loving, the Almighty One: He Himself is with us, and in a position to make Himself known to us.

With you all the days: not only on the day of the Supper; not only on the festal days of life; but all the days, without one single exception. And thus, also, all the day. Whether I think of it or not, there He is the whole daynear me, with me. Not on my own faithfulness, but in that faithfulness of Thine which awakens my confidence and bestows on me Thine own nearness, I have the assurance of an unbroken fellowship with Thee, my beloved Lord.

Prayer.

Blessed Saviour, receive my thanks also for this word, with you. And teach me, Lord, to make it my own in faith. For this end I will during these moments set myself in silence before Thee, and will wait upon Thee. Lord, speak Thyself to me these words I am with you all the days.

Lord, what a source of joy and strength shall it prove to me when I know that as Thou art unchangeable, so also is Thy presence with me unchangeable. As little as Thou wilt for a single moment leave the right hand of the Father in heaven, wilt Thou leave Thy brother upon the earth: Thou abidest at my right hand. Thou hast said it, and therefore I know that it is true: I will never leave you nor forsake you I am with you all the days. Precious Saviour, let Thy voice penetrate into the deepest recesses of my heart, and let my life this day, the whole day, and every day, be in Thy presence the presence of Him who says, I am with you.

Alas, Lord, what have I not lost by not believing that word! And how have I grieved and dishonored Thee. Thou wast with me: Thy voice of love said without ceasing, I am with you; and yet through my proneness to unbelief, I heard it not. Often did I pray and beseech Thee that I might have Thee, and yet at the same time I practically despised Thee by not believing Thy word. O my Saviour, let it no longer be so. Strengthen my faith, and as Thou has taught me to rely upon the word of complete atonement, For you, let the word of complete fellowship, with you all the days, become my joy and my strength. Yea, cause me to understand that as the for you makes a complete provision for all the sins of the past, so the with you makes a provision equally complete for all the cares and sins of the future.

Yes, Lord, in Thy strength it shall be so. I will trust and not be afraid. Whatever or of whatever kind the days may be that await me, Thy word, with you all the days,shall be sufficient for me. In Thy nearness, in fellowship with Thee, or rather in Thy fellowship with me, my life shall become a foretaste of the consummation when I shall say: And lo, O Lord, I am with Thee for all eternity! Amen.

VI. SATURDAY MORNING
The End

"The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me." " Being confident of this very thing, that He which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ." -- Psalm 138:8Philippians 1:6.

 

How many times has the believer gone from the Lords Table with the sorrowful thought, Shall I indeed continue standing? Shall my resolutions and promises not be frustrated? Who tells me that I shall persevere unto the end? I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul (1 Samuel 27:1).

It was just in such a crisis that David said, I will cry unto God Most High, unto God that performeth all things for me (Ps. 57:2). It is in God alone that the Christian has the assurance of his perseverance. To see from the beginning to the end, yea, to be Himself alike the Beginning and the End, is one of the glorious attributes of the God who dwells in eternity. And it is one of the characteristics of His work, that, while man often begins without ending, with Him the end is as certain as the beginning. What He has begun He will complete.

O my soul, if thou wouldst enjoy the comfort of this promise, be much occupied with this fact: He has begun. The Christian speaks too often of his conversion and his faith and his self-surrender. Contemplating all this from the side of man, he keeps himself too little occupied with the thought: HE has begun. My soul, understand what this means: He has sought me and found me and made me His own, and what He has thus done to me points back to that which He did for me: He gave His own Son, and by His blood He bought for Himself as His own possession. And that again points back to eternity. He chose me and loved me before the foundation of the world. My soul, ponder what this means: He has begun.

Then shalt thou be able joyfully to exclaim, He will perfect: the Lord will perfect that which concerneth me. Then shalt thy life become a life of humility and thanksgiving and confidence and joy and love. Thou seest that there is nothing in thyself, and thou learnest to expect all from God, and thank Him for all: thou learnest to rely upon Him in everything. And the end will be to you as certain as the beginning, because the end as well as the beginning has its root and stability in God. The self-same faith that, looking back, acknowledges the beginning as Gods, also looks forward, and in the eternal and unchangeable God finds the end secured. What He has begun He will perfect.

Prayer.

Lord God, Thou art without beginning and without end. For Thou art Thyself alike the beginning and the end. Thou art the Eternal, with whom there is no yesterday and no to-morrow. Thou art Thyself yesterday, to-day, and forever. With Thee there is no changeableness nor shadow of turning. Lord, in Thee alone Thy believing people find their comfort and their security. Nothing that we have done or still desire to do, nothing that we are or shall be, can give us rest. But, thanks be to Thy name, Thou Thyself, the Eternal, with Thine unchangeableness, Thou art our rest and our strength, In Thee alone and in Thy faithfulness does our life become freed from all fear.

Father, give me to understand this. Make me to know Thee as the God who has begun a good work in me. Let Thy Spirit seal it to me that Thou receivest me as the possession which Thou hast bought for Thyself, which is precious to Thee, and which no one shall pluck out of Thy hands. And then teach me, in the midst of all the sense of my own weakness and the power of sin which I have, always to trust and always to exclaim: He that began a good work in me will perfect it.

Father, once again I thank Thee for the Supper that has been observed. Blessed Perfecter, perfect in me also Thy work of grace. Teach me to go forward on my way, full of joy, full of confidence and courage, full of thanksgiving and love. My God, become Thou everything to me: the God who has done everything, the God who will do everything, the God to whom all is due. and give me thereafter to await the glorious end, when I too shall be in perfection what I was at the beginning, and every day hope more and more to be, a monument of the grace of God on which he that runneth may read: From Him and by Him and to Him are all things: to Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

APPENDIX

Throughout the preceding pages the author makes such pointed reference to the statements of the Directory of Public Worslnp in the Dutch Reformed Church that bear on preparation for the Lords Supper, and also to the relevant questions of the Heidelberg Catechism, that it has been thought of advantage to the reader to have these passages before him.

I. Self-Examanation

 

True proving of ourselves consists of three parts:

 

1. In the first place, let everyone in his own heart reflect on his sin and condemnation, in order that he may loathe himself and humble himself before God: seeing that the wrath of God against sin is so great that, rather than suffer it to remain unpunished, He punished it in His dear Son Jesus Christ, in the bitter and ignominous death of the Cross.

2. In the second place, let everyone examine his heart as to whether he also believes this sure promise of God, that only on the ground of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ all his sins are forgiven him, and the perfect righteousness of Christ is bestowed upon him and imputed to him as his own: yea, as completely as if he himself in his own person had atoned for all his sins and performed all righteousness.

3. In the third place, let everyone examine his conscience as to whether he is prepared, henceforth and with his whole life, to manifest true thankfulness toward God the Lord, and to walk uprightly in Gods sight.

All who are so disposed, God will assuredly receive into His favor, and regard as worthy communicants at the table of His Son Jesus Christ. On the other hand, those that have no such testimony in their hearts, eat and drink judgment to themselves.

II. Christ in the Supper

Question 76. What is meant by eating the crucified body and drinking the shed blood of Christ?

Answer. It is not only to receive with a believing heart the whole suffering and dying of Christ, and thereby to obtain the forgiveness of sins and life eternal, but moreover, also, to be so united more and more to His sacred body by the Holy Ghost, who dwells both in Christ and in us, that although He is in Heaven and we are upon the earth, we are nevertheless flesh of His flesh and bone of His bones, and live and are governed forever by One Spirit, as the members of one body are by one soul.

Question 79. Why, then, doth Christ call the bread His body and the cup His blood, or the New Testament in His blood; and St. Paul, the communion of the body and blood of Christ?

Answer. Christ speaks thus not without great cause, namely, not only that He may thereby teach us that like as bread and wine sustain this temporal life, so also His crucified body and shed blood are the true meat and drink of our souls unto eternal life; but, much more that by this visible sign and pledge He may assure us that we are as really partakers of His true body and blood, through the working of the Holy Spirit, as with the bodily mouth we receive these holy tokens in remembrance of Him; and that all His suffering and obedience are as surely our own as if we ourselves in our own person had suffered all and done enough.