The Lord’s table is a ritual for believers in Jesus Christ, and is based upon Christ’s last Passover meal which he had with his disciples and that meal was based on the original Passover (Exodus 12:1-14; Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:1-24).
The Passover spoke of deliverance through substitutionary death of an unblemished lamb.
The final reality was Jesus Christ, the lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world (Exodus 12:1-14; John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ expanded this Passover into the Lord’s table, since it was his purpose to soon die for sin (John 13:1-3 with the synoptic Scriptures in point 1).
No longer was the ritual Passover to be a shadow of something to come; it became the reality of our completed salvation (Hebrews 10:1-10)
The Lord’s table celebrates the true humanity of Jesus Christ by the ritual bread and the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ by the ritual fruit of the vine (1 Corinthians 11:24-25; Matthew 26:26-29; Hebrews 10:5-10).
Jesus became true humanity for us. He was like us in every way, yet without sin (Philippians 2:6-11, Hebrews 2:14-18, and 4:15-16). When he died on the cross, it was not just another terrible crucifixion. He was voluntarily substituting himself for us and taking our judgment upon himself (Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; 8:9; 1 Peter 2:24).
The 1 Corinthians passage emphasizes at least four ideas. RPAP
We remember Jesus Christ the person (true and sinless humanity) and his substitutionary death for the sins of mankind (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).
We proclaim his death, which was both spiritual and physical, until he comes back (1 Corinthians 11:26).
We anticipate his return (1 Corinthians 11:26).
We participate in a worthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27-32).
Scripture includes Jesus’ last Passover: Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:7-20, 39. Jesus’ Crucifixion: Matthew 27:45-50, Mark 15:33-37, Luke 23:44-46, John 19:30, and 1 Corinthians 11:24-26.
This ritual has two primary purposes: 1. to remember Jesus’ true and sinless humanity, 2. to proclaim his substitutionary death (1 Corinthians 11:24-26). His death was both spiritual, the 3 hours of darkness when judged for sin; and physical, the result of sin and preparation for resurrection and the future (Matthew 27:45-50; Mark 15:33-37; Luke 23:44-46; John 19:30).
Jesus’ sacrifice was worthy and accepted by God the Father and this was noted by 1. the veil in the temple that separated the holy of holies from the holy place was torn (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38), 2. some graves opened and saints were raised (Matthew 27:51-52), and 3. Jesus arose from the dead (Romans 4:27 and others).
The bread and the fruit of the vine do not change into Jesus’ flesh and blood. There is no positive indication that this miracle occurred or was implied in the statements. On the other side, the phrase in Matthew 26:29, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until…” (Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18) indicates that Christ took what was in the cup as real fruit of the vine, and not blood. This meaning is carried over in 1 Corinthians 10:21 and 11.23-29. In those passages there is an interchange between the cup, blood, and table indicating that they represent something else—the death of Christ.
This ritual was given from the Lord to Paul and from Paul to the church. Believers are commanded to observe it until Jesus comes for us (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
Believers are to examine themselves and so prove to themselves that they are worthy to participate in this ritual. Sin in a believer’s life makes that one unworthy. Mixing personal sin with the Lord’s table mocks the purpose of the ritual. Therefore, self examination and confession of sin when necessary (1 Corinthians 11:27-32).
The proper order of the ritual is to take the bread, pray, distribute it, and eat; and repeat this with the fruit of the vine (Matthew 26:26-27; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-20). Jesus and his disciples concluded with a hymn (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26). Paul added personal examination before participation since all believers are now priests, we are part of Christ’s spiritual body, and the Lord is not physically present (1 Corinthians 11:27-32).
This should impress upon us the reality of our sin and then the reality of God’s love for us (1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Peter 2:24; John 3:16; 1 John 3:1-3).
Thankfulness, reverence, service, obedience to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ought to be the application of each one of us every day (2 Corinthians 9:15; Romans 6:17; 7:25).