From Charles Spurgeon’s sermon, “The Feast of the Lord”, delivered on the Lord’s-day Evening, August 6th, 1871.
It is said in the text, “As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death.” How do we show it? What do we show? Well, first of all, we show that God has set forth Christ for men. The table is spread; there is bread on it; there is the cup upon it. What for? Not for beasts. Here is the food of men. It is set there for men. It is intended that the bread should be eaten, that the wine should be drunk. Everybody who sees a table spread knows at once that there are preparations for a meal or a festival. Now God has set forth Christ for men. There is in Christ what man wants. As bread meets his hunger, as the cup meets his thirst, so Christ meets all the spiritual wants of mankind. And the soul that would live, and the soul that would rejoice, must come to God’s provision for his living and his rejoicing, and that provision is to be found in Jesus Christ crucified. God set forth Christ of old. Even in the garden, he set him forth in the first promise. He continued to set him forth by all the prophets, and in this last day every veil has been taken away by an open Bible inviting all comers. God has set forth the bread of life to the sons of men. And you to-night will show that fact. When you see that table uncovered, you have a representation. God has made a feast of fat things for the sons of men in the person of Jesus Christ. The feast consists of bread and wine. Now in this we represent Christ’s human person, Christ’s humanity. That he is no myth, but real flesh, is taught by the bread being on the table—that he was no phantom, but that real blood coursed through his veins as through ours—that the Lord of life and glory was, like ourselves, a real man, in humanity in all respects like to ourselves, sin alone excepted. There shall be no phantom feast upon the table, and the materialism that is there is meant to show that he was a man, a real man
“Who once on Calvary died,
When streams of blood and water ran
Down from his wounded side.”
But the next thing we show forth is his death. We have his person; then we have his death—observe how. Recording to the Romish Church, the most of the people are only to participate in the bread—the wafer. Now such persons never show Christ’s death at all, for the text says, “As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye show Christ’s death.” It is only by the two that you show his death at all. The bread represents the body, but the cup must represent the blood, or else you have no token of his suffering—no emblem of his death. Cannot the two be mixed together? No, for if the blood and flesh be together, you have the living man. It is when the blood flows—when the lifeblood ebbs from the body, and the body is bloodless, that then you have the wine as a token of death; and the separation of the two—the use of the two emblems—is absolutely needful to set forth death. The more you think this the more you see in it. The emblem is the simplest in the world, but yet the most instructive. Take either one of the elements—the bread, how it typifies Christ’s suffering! Here was the corn bruised beneath the thresher’s flail; then was it cast into the ground. It sprung up and ripened, and had to be cut down with the sickle; then it had to be threshed; then ground in the mill; then was it baked in the oven. A whole series of sufferings, if I may use the term, it had to pass through before it became proper food for us. And so must our Saviour pass through sufferings innumerable before he could become food for our souls, and redeemer of our spirits. As for that which is in the cup, it was trodden beneath the foot in the wine-press—its juice was pressed forth. So in the wine-press of Jehovah’s wrath was Christ pressed before he could become the wine that maketh glad both God and man. Both emblems represent suffering, each one separately, but put together they bring forth the idea of death, “and as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death.”
But more than this; we show that God set forth Christ; we show his person as a real man; we show his sufferings and his death; but next we show our participation in the same, for it is not “as often as ye look at this bread,” or “as ye gaze upon this cup,” but “as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup.” Christ saves us not until we do receive him by an act of faith. The bread satisfies no hunger while it rests upon the table, and a draught from the cup quenches no thirst until it really is drunk. So the precious blood of Jesus Christ our Saviour must be received by our faith. We must believe in him to the saving of our souls. Now how simple a matter is eating! It matters not, unless a man be dead—he wants little teaching to know how to eat. It is as simple as a natural act—he puts food into his mouth. It is just so here. There is the Saviour, and I take him—that is all. It seems to me to be even a more complex act to eat than simply to trust in Jesus, yet is it a very simple thing. The idiot can eat. No matter how guilty a man, he can eat; no matter how dark and despairing his fears, he can eat; and O poor soul, whoever thou mayest be, there shall be no want of wit or merit that shall keep thee back from Christ. If thou art willing to have him, thou mayest have him. The act of trusting Christ makes Christ as much thy own as the eating of the bread. Suppose some difficulty were raised about whether a piece of bread was mine. Well, the legal question would take a long time to decide. I cannot produce the document, nor find the witnesses to prove it is mine. But there is one little fact, I think, which will settle it—I have eaten it. So if the devil himself were to say that Christ is not mine, I have believed on him; and if I have believed on him, he is mine just as surely as when I have eaten a piece of bread there can be no question about its being mine. Now we set forth to-night, by eating bread and drinking of the cup, the fact that Jesus Christ is our Saviour, and we take him by simple faith to be our all in all.
But there is more teaching still. The bread and wine, are being eaten and drunk, are assimilated into the system; they minister strength to bone, sinew, muscle; they build up the man. And herein is teaching. Christ believed in is one with us—”Christ in us the hope of glory. “We have heard persons talk of believers falling from grace and losing Christ. No, sir, a man has eaten bread—he ate it yesterday. Will you separate that bread from the man? Will you trace the drops that came from the cup, and fetch them out of the man’s system? You shall more easily do that than you shall take Christ away from the soul that has once fed upon him. “Who shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord?” He is in us a well of water springing up into everlasting life. See then how large a letter Christ has written to us with these pens—how in this bread and this wine, eaten and drunk, he has taught us wondrous mysteries—in fact, the whole Christian faith is, in brief, summed up here upon this table.