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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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LORD'S, derives its name from having been instituted by Jesus, after he had supped with his Apostles, immediately before he went out to be delivered into the hands of his enemies. In Egypt, for every house of the children of Israel, a lamb was slain upon that night, when the Almighty punished the cruelty and obstinacy of the Egyptians by killing their first- born, but charged the destroying angel to pass over the houses upon which the blood of the lamb was sprinkled. This was the original sacrifice of the passover. In commemoration of it, the Jews observed the annual festival of the passover, when all the males of Judea assembled before the Lord in Jerusalem. A lamb was slain for every house, the representative of that whose blood had been sprinkled in the night of the escape from Egypt. After the blood was poured under the altar by the priests, the lambs were carried home to be eaten by the people in their tents or houses at a domestic feast, where every master of a family took the cup of thanksgiving, and gave thanks with his family to the God of Israel. Jesus having fulfilled the law of Moses, to which in all things he submitted, by eating the paschal supper with his disciples, proceeded after supper to institute a rite, which, to any person that reads the words of the institution without having formed a previous opinion upon the subject, will probably appear to have been intended by him as a memorial of that event which was to happen not many hours after. "He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave it unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you,"

Luke 22:19-20 . He took the bread which was then on the table, and the wine, of which some had been used in sending round the cup of thanksgiving; and by saying, "This is my body, this is my blood, do this in remembrance of me," he declared to his Apostles that this was the representation of his death by which he wished them to commemorate that event. The Apostle Paul, not having been present at the institution, received it by immediate revelation from the Lord Jesus; and the manner in which he delivers it to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 , implies that it was not a rite confined to the Apostles who were present when it was instituted, but that it was meant to be observed by all Christians till the end of the world. "As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come." Whether we consider these words as part of the revelation made to St. Paul, or as his own commentary upon the nature of the ordinance which was revealed to him, they mark, with equal significancy and propriety, the extent and the perpetuity of the obligation to observe that rite which was first instituted in presence of the Apostles.

There is a striking correspondence between this view of the Lord's Supper, as a rite by which it was intended that all Christians should commemorate the death of Christ, and the circumstances attending the institution of the feast of the passover. Like the Jews, we have the original sacrifice: "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us," and by his substitution our souls are delivered from death. Like the Jews, we have a feast in which that sacrifice, and the deliverance purchased by it, are remembered. Hence the Lord's Supper was early called the eucharist, from its being said by St. Luke, "Jesus, when he took the bread, gave thanks;" and his disciples in all ages, when they receive the bread, keep a feast of thanksgiving. To Christians, as to Jews, there is "a night to be much observed unto the Lord," in all generations. To Christians, as to Jews, the manner of observing the night is appointed. To both it is accompanied with thanksgiving.

The Lord's Supper exhibits, by a significant action, the characteristical doctrine of the Christian faith, that the death of its author, which seemed to be the completion of the rage of his enemies, was a voluntary sacrifice, so efficacious as to supersede the necessity of every other; and that his blood was shed for the remission of sins. By partaking of this rite, his disciples publish an event most interesting to all the kindreds of the earth; they declare that, far from being ashamed of the suffering of their Master, they glory in his cross; and, while they thus perform the office implied in that expression of the Apostle, "Ye do show forth the Lord's death," they at the same time cherish the sentiments by which their religion ministers to their own consolation and improvement. They cannot remember the death of Christ, the circumstances which rendered that event necessary, the disinterested love and the exalted virtues of their deliverer, without feeling their obligations to him. Unless the vilest hypocrisy accompany an action, which, by its very nature, professes to flow from warm affection, the love of Christ will constrain them to fulfil the purposes of his death, by "living unto him who died for them;" and we have reason to hope, that, in the places where he causes his name to be remembered, he will come and bless his people. As the object of faith is thus explicitly set before them in every commemoration, so the renewed exercise of that faith, which the ordinance is designed to excite, must bring renewed life, and a deeper experience of the "great salvation." See SACRAMENT .

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Supper'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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