Six Purposes for the Lord’s Table

Why do we observe the Lord’s Table? How many reasons can you give? Here are six biblical purposes for this important church practice.

1. To obey Jesus (1 Cor. 11:24)

Jesus is Savior, and Jesus is Lord and Master also. He says to do this often, so that is the only reason we need. Do we respond to his other commands in the same way? Sometimes we get into a pattern of disobeying Jesus. So, observing the Lord’s Table is a good, regular way to place my will in submission to his and to do what he tells me to do, in the company and fellowship of other brothers and sisters in Christ.

2. To remember Jesus (1 Cor 11:23, 25)

We do this to remember the unparalleled death of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Just as we erect memorials and celebrate holidays to remember those who have died for our freedom as a nation, we must remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ infinitely more. Participation in the Lord’s Table does not remove sins or impart grace of any kind. Nothing mystical, supernatural, or miraculous happens when we partake. But we do it to remember what Jesus has done for us.

3. To proclaim the death of Jesus (1 Cor 11:26)

When we observe the Lord’s Table, we are presenting the gospel (the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins) through a visual object lesson. The other ordinance, baptism, is the same way. It illustrates how we were buried with Christ when he died and how we resurrected with new life in Christ when he resurrected. So, what we talk about, sing about, pray about, and do during the Lord’s Table declares, announces, and explains the gospel to those who are watching and may not yet be born again. And remember, those who are watching on a regular basis include our children. Be ready to answer their questions in a meaningful, biblical way.

4. To give thanks (1 Cor 11:24)

We cannot say ‘thank you’ enough for the death of Jesus Christ for our sins. But just as Jesus “gave thanks” and participated in the Lord’s Table “in the same [thankful] manner,” so we should emulate his thankful spirit, giving thanks from our hearts – in thought, in testimony, in prayer, and in song – for his priceless, everlasting gift of matchless love.

5. To look forward to the return of Jesus (1 Cor 11:26)

We participate in the Lord’s Table as a way of anticipating and looking forward to the future return of Jesus Christ to judge the world, make all things right, and establish his everlasting rule and reign of righteousness. When that day comes, Jesus Christ himself will lead us in a Lord’s Table observance (Matt 26:29). The last time he did this was with his 12 disciples, the night he was betrayed, the night before he was crucified. The next time he does this will be with us all in his kingdom.

6. To examine yourself (1 Cor 11:28)

You should examine yourself to be sure that you are genuinely “in the faith” (2 Cor 13:5). Have you truly admitted your sinfulness, turned away from false, traditional religion and the pursuit of sin and pleasure to trust alone in Jesus Christ as God and Savior? You should also examine yourself to be sure that you are participating in a “worthy manner.” Are you harboring any bitterness against God or another person? Are you at odds with another brother or sister in Christ, perhaps even in your family? Make that right with God and with those whom you have hurt (Matt 5:23-24; 1 John 1:9).

You may find additional perspective from the following audio:

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