The component parts of the word “Eucharist” translate to “good grace”. The meaning is making good on grace by returning thanks for what is given. The best-known usage of this word is in connection with the Last Supper of Christ at which He gave thanks for the bread and wine which He then used as symbols for His broken body and shed blood. It is by means of His body and blood that He accomplished salvation for us. In using these symbols at the Last Supper, He also established the Lord’s Supper as an ordinance of worship and means of grace for perpetual observance and blessing in His church. The Lord’s Supper is The Ultimate Thanksgiving Dinner.
The Lord’s Supper is given to remind us that we must seek more from Christ than food, clothing and shelter. More even than a good marriage, a happy family, profitable employment and a peaceful society. All these things are good but they all will end for us. They are like manna in the wilderness which that generation ate and was sustained by, but still died. Jesus declares that He is the bread and wine sent by the Father in heaven so that we may eat and drink Him and have life that, though it will be disturbed, will be perfected and never end. He alone is the bread of life that has come down from heaven and gives true life to the world. Jesus uses bread as a symbol for His body in which He accomplished perfect righteousness and life for us. He uses wine as a symbol for His blood given when He took our sins on Himself and died in our place so that we would be delivered from eternal death. He uses eating and drinking as symbols of faith because it is by faith that we participate in His benefits of the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of His righteousness. The traditional Thanksgiving Dinner often makes us groan with regret. Exercising faith in Christ through the Lord’s Supper makes us glory with rejoicing.
Sadly, as the manna was despised by the Israelites, the Lord’s Supper is commonly despised by the Christian church. Sometimes it is profaned as an idol as if the mere physical participation in the sacrament magically and automatically conferred Christ’s benefits apart from faith. Often it is neglected as an empty ceremony of little or no spiritual value. It is true that the elements have no power in themselves and that those who administrate the sacrament do not give them effectiveness. The power is in the hands of the Holy Spirit as He gives us faith and enables us to exercise it in the promises Christ attached to His Supper as we eat the bread and drink the cup. As we eat the bread we believe Christ’s promise that He alone will give us His righteousness and life. As we drink the cup we believe Christ’s promise that He alone will forgive our sins and deliver us from death. Through faith exercised in Christ by means of these symbols, we participate in the saving benefits of Christ in a particular way that He has provided for us.
Enjoy your thanksgiving dinner with your family and friends who are among your most treasured gifts for which you rightly give thanks to God. But infinitely above this, participate in the Lord’s Supper by exercising faith in Christ with these signs that lead us to Him for this is the true Eucharist, the Ultimate Thanksgiving Dinner.