We were running really late this morning and arrived just in time for the passing of the loaf and the little cups of grape juice. I was kind of relieved that we made it for the Lord’s Supper. Then after the morning gathering, we hung around as the church and had lunch, breaking bread together and being in joyous fellowship.
Which one was the Lord’s Supper as we see it in the Bible?
His short post and question reminded me of something that I had read recently in Witness to the Gospel: The Theology of Acts (edited by I. Howard Marshall and David Peterson) in David Peterson’s chapter called “The Worship of the New Community.” He writes:
It might be argued that the reference to the meeting of the Christians in Troas ‘on the first day of the week’ in order to break bread is a pointer to a formal Sunday gathering for the purposes of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7). But Paul’s discussion with them occupied their attention until after midnight and again after the meal, suggesting that it was a very unstructured and informal meeting. When Luke mentions that Paul finally broke bread (perhaps on behalf of everyone present), he adds ‘and when he had eaten, he engaged in much further conversation until dawn’ (v. 11). It is really quite artificial to suggest that the meal by which Paul satisfied himself after such a long time was somehow distinct from ‘the breaking of bread’. Since Christian meetings were largely held in the context of private homes, it is natural that they expressed their fellowship in terms of eating together.
In my judgement, therefore, ‘the breaking of bread’ in Acts cannot be taken to refer to a liturgical celebration distinct from the everyday meals that believers shared together. Such meals were doubtless ‘full of religious content because of the recollection of the table fellowship which Jesus had with his followers during his earthly ministry.’ (Behm, TDNT, III:730) The reality of Christian fellowship was expressed from the earliest times in the ordinary activity of eating together…
Eating together was a way of expressing the special relationship which believers had with one another in Christ and the special responsibility to one another involved in that relationship. These meals may well have been informal expressions of what was later more structured and organized. (pg 392-393)
So, to answer Arthur’s question (Which one was the Lord’s Supper as we see it in the Bible?), I would have to say, “I don’t know.”
In fact, I was talking with a brother about this last Sunday. He asked about celebrating the Lord’s Supper weekly – and I’m definitely in favor of this. But, I then asked him a follow-up question, “Why not celebrate the Lord’s Supper daily? Or at every meal?” This seems to be what Peterson is alluding to. Every meal was considered the “Lord’s Supper” because of their fellowship and their focus on Jesus, his earthly ministry, and his continued ministry among them.
Spurgeon recognized something similar. In a sermon on Acts 2:42-47, he said, “[T]heir own meals were so mixed and mingled with the Lordâ€™s Supper that to this day the most cautious student of the Bible cannot tell when they stopped eating their common meals, and when they began eating the Supper of the Lord.”
I’ll be honest, my “common meals” are not at that point yet. But, I think that is the direction we should be heading. Wouldn’t it be great (perhaps even reminiscent of what we find in Scripture) if we ate every meal as the Lord’s Meal? Why don’t we?