- We need to realize that on the one hand, we enjoy the Lord’s table for our enjoyment and satisfaction; on the other hand, we need to also learn to participate in the Lord’s supper for His enjoyment and satisfaction.
- The Lord’s physical body was given on the cross to accomplish redemption; the Lord’s mystical Body (His spiritual Body, the Body of Christ) is the means for God to carry out His administration and bring in His kingdom.
- God’s administration today is carried out by His kingdom and Body; therefore, we need to prove ourselves to have a living worthy of eating His supper and discern that the bread we partake of is free from division.
- In doing so, the church becomes the bridge connecting the Lord’s death to His second coming; “Come, Lord Jesus!”
The Lord’s Table and the Lord’s Supper
Concerning the remembrance of the Lord, Paul uses the terms, “the table of the Lord ” in 1 Corinthians 10:21 and “the Lord’s supper” in 11:20. There is an important difference between the Lord’s table and the Lord’s supper. We should not take these terms for granted. Rather, we should ask why Paul speaks of the Lord’s table in chapter ten and the Lord’s supper in chapter eleven. The Lord’s table refers to the enjoyment of the Lord in fellowship. Hence, the significance of the Lord’s table is enjoyment for participation, enjoyment for fellowship. When we say that we take the Lord’s table, we mean that we enjoy the Lord in the fellowship of Him. This is for our enjoyment and satisfaction. The Lord’s supper, however, is for His satisfaction. It is for the remembrance of Him. Regarding the Lord’s table and the Lord’s supper, there is mutuality. The Lord’s table is for our enjoyment, but the Lord’s supper is for His enjoyment. Sometimes we may say, “Lord, we come to Your table and partake of it.” This indicates that we are enjoying the Lord. At other times we may say, “We thank You that we can have Your supper.” This indicates that we are remembering the Lord for His enjoyment and satisfaction.
The Lord’s Physical Body and His Mystical Body
In 1 Corinthians 11:24 Paul quotes the word of the Lord Jesus: “This is My body, which is for you; this do unto the remembrance of Me.” The body in 11:24 denotes the physical body of Jesus. Paul [later] uses the expression, “not discerning the body” in verse 29, which denotes the mystical Body. The physical body of Jesus was given on the cross to accomplish redemption for us. But that body has nothing to do with God’s present administration. It is the mystical Body of Christ which is thoroughly and absolutely related to God’s administration today. The church today as the mystical Body is not for us—it is for Christ. When we come to the Lord’s table, our concern is neither redemption nor the divine administration; our concern is for enjoyment. We all come to the Lord’s table to enjoy the Lord in fellowship. The Lord’s supper, however, is related to the Lord’s enjoyment and satisfaction. We should not only care for our enjoyment at the table, but also care for the Lord’s enjoyment at the supper.
If we want the Lord Jesus to be satisfied at the Lord’s supper, we should not only remember Him, but also care for God’s administration carried out by Him. Today what satisfies the Lord the most is the divine administration. If we remember Him without caring for the divine administration, He will not be happy. If we want to make Him happy and satisfy Him, we must be able to say, “Lord, while we are remembering You, we discern Your Body for God’s administration carried out by You. As we remember You, we do not forget what You are doing in the heavens. You are seated in the heavens to carry out God’s administration.”
Until He Comes
In chapter ten Paul does not say anything about participating in the Lord’s table until He comes. But in 11:26 he says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you declare the Lord’s death until He comes.” The Lord’s coming will bring in God’s kingdom for His administration. His first coming was for our redemption, but His second coming will be for God’s administration. When we take of the Lord’s table, we care for our enjoyment. But when we take of the Lord’s supper, we care for His remembrance and God’s administration. The Lord’s table is for our enjoyment. However, the Lord’s supper is for His enjoyment and satisfaction. Furthermore, His satisfaction is dependent on God’s administration carried out by Him. Do you intend to give the Lord the best remembrance? If you do, then you must take care of the mystical Body, the means for Him to carry out God’s administration on earth. We must remember Him in this way until He comes. We do this to carry out His administration until He comes back and brings His kingdom to earth.
Discerning the Body for God’s Administration
We have emphasized the fact that when we take the Lord’s table we enjoy Him, and when we eat the Lord’s supper we satisfy Him by remembering Him and caring for God’s administration. But in what way do we take care of His administration? It is by discerning the Body. To discern the Body is first to realize that Christ has only one mystical Body, and this unique mystical Body of Christ is the means for God to carry out His administration. But Satan’s subtle device is to cut the Body into pieces. This frustrates God’s administration. As long as we are in a division, we are through with God’s administration. Throughout the years we have been deeply impressed with the significance of the Lord’s table. Therefore, we often pray, “Lord, thank You for Your redeeming blood. Lord, we also thank You that you have given Your body on the cross to bear our sins. Lord, now we are here enjoying Your table. You are on the table for our enjoyment.” Now we must also be impressed that to eat the Lord’s supper is to satisfy Him. It is to give Him our remembrance. This implies that we are here for the carrying out of God’s administration. In order that God’s administration may be carried out, we must care for the oneness of the unique mystical Body of Christ. Having such a concern will preserve us in the Body and keep us from any division. If we have this understanding of the Lord’s supper, we shall not be divided by anything. Rather, we shall remain in the unique mystical Body, the means for Christ to carry out His heavenly ministry for the accomplishment of the divine administration.
Proving and Discerning
Regarding the Lord’s supper, Paul uses two crucial words: prove and discern. First Corinthians 11:28 says, “But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” To prove ourselves is to check whether we are eating the bread and drinking the cup in a way that is worthy or in a way that is unworthy. Verse 29 says, “For he who is eating and drinking, eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body.” This is the discerning both of the Lord’s physical body and also of the mystical Body for the carrying out of God’s administration. Proving ourselves is for the remembrance of the Lord; discerning the Body is mainly for the carrying out of God’s administration. Whenever we come to the Lord’s table, we should not just enjoy the Lord; we should also remember Him by proving ourselves. We must ask if we are living in a way that is worthy for us to eat the Lord’s supper. This is to remember the Lord. At the same time we must discern whether the bread on the table signifies the unique mystical Body of Christ, or if it signifies a division. If the bread signifies a certain divisive group or denomination, we should not take it, for we discern the Body. We discern the Body in such a way for the carrying out of God’s administration.
Remembrance Being Related to God’s Administration
In 1 Corinthians 11:24-25 we have the phrase “unto the remembrance of Me.” The thought embodied in the word “unto” in these verses is deep and profound. It is, of course, not incorrect to translate the Greek preposition as “for.” However, this does not express the meaning or significance here. Here the word is used with the significance of result, not purpose. What will be the result of your eating of the Lord’s supper? Does your eating of the Lord’s supper result in God’s administration? If not, your partaking of the Lord’s supper is too superficial. The genuine eating of the Lord’s supper must result in the administration of God; it must result in the kingdom. We need to realize that we have been regenerated to become the children of God, to be brought into the kingdom, and to become the members of the Body of Christ. The kingdom and the Body should be the goal of our living. As Christians, we are not here simply to have a good life. Today God’s administration is carried out by the kingdom and the Body. This should be our daily living. Then on the first day of the week we come together purposely to eat the Lord’s supper with the expectation that our life will be a life for the kingdom of God and the Body of Christ. If you understand this, you will know how eating of the Lord’s supper may result in such a satisfaction to the Lord.
Declaring the Lord’s Death
In 1 Corinthians 11:26 Paul says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you declare the Lord’s death until He comes.” At the Lord’s table, while we are eating and drinking, we are making a declaration. Although we are to remember the Lord, we are not told to remember His death. Rather, in verse 26 we see that we should declare the Lord’s death. Christ’s death is not for us to remember—it is for us to declare, announce, display. In verse 26 we also have the Lord’s coming. In between Christ’s death and His coming there is a gap, a gap which is filled in by the church. We may say that the church is a bridge connecting the Lord’s death to His coming. This bridge is also a highway; without this bridge with the highway, there would be no way to go from one side of the gap, Christ’s death, to the other side, God’s kingdom. This means that the church continues the Lord’s death and brings in His coming back. Thus we must see that to declare the Lord’s death until He comes is equal to declaring the existence of the church for the bringing in of the kingdom. As long as there is a people on earth responding to Christ in His heavenly ministry, there is a way for Him to bring God’s kingdom to earth.
- Why does Paul make the distinction between the “table of the Lord” and the “Lord’s supper” in 1 Corinthians chapters 10 and 11?
- How is the Lord’s supper related to the Lord’s enjoyment and satisfaction?
- How is the remembrance of the Lord related to God’s administration?
- What is the bridge between the Lord’s death and His second coming?
- What does it mean to prove ourselves in relation to eating the table (1 Cor 11:28) and to discern the body (v. 29)?
Excerpts taken from Life-study of 1 Corinthians, Messages 54-56