Nature and Meaning of the Lord’s Supper
It is a visualized act of worship which symbolically visualizes spiritual truth for our edification using two symbolic elements: the bread and the cup, and four symbolic actions: (1) breaking the bread and sharing it, (2) eating the bread, (3) pouring and passing the cup, and (4) drinking the fruit of the vine from the cup.
The Meaning of the Elements and Symbolic Acts
(1) The Bread: The bread symbolically speaks of the body or the person of Christ as the God-man Savior, the one who was and is the bread of life come down from heaven as God’s solution to man’s sinful state (Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24). The bread remains bread, but it symbolizes the concept of the incarnation. God the Son in the person of Jesus Christ took upon Himself true and sinless humanity that He might die for us, and now lives on in His glorified state to be our life and to be in our midst as the head of the body of Christ, His church (John 6:32-33, 38, 48-58).
(2) The Cup: The cup was filled with the fruit of the vine which was red like blood. This, as Christ taught, is symbolic of the blood of the covenant which was shed on behalf of many.
The cup with its blood red wine calls to mind the cross and the death Christ died as our sinless substitute. It proclaims the Lord’s death as accomplished, but it is not a reenactment of His death; it simply reminds us salvation has been accomplished and our sins put away as far as the east is from the west. It portrays His life given in death as God’s Lamb.
It also stands for the new covenant, the concept that the Old Testament or old covenant in types and shadows has been fulfilled and put away, and that we have God’s guarantee of the forgiveness of our sins based on the finished work and death of Christ (Heb. 10:14-18).