The Sign

By Not Known

Imagine you met someone standing under a street sign pointing to their favourite restaurant. A kind response would be to urge them to follow the sign, go to the restaurant and enjoy a meal. The purpose of the sing is to point away from itself to something else.

It is quite like that with the Lord’s Supper. The Protestand reformers were fond of calling the sacraments ‘signs’. As the Catechism put it: “The parts of a sacrament are two: The one an outward and sensible sing, used according to Christ’s appointment; the other an inward and spiritual grace thereby signified.

What ‘grace‘ does the Lord’s supper signify? Jesus introcued it on the night of the Jewish Passover. We can read the Passover background in Ex. 12: 1- 13. God was about the bring judgement against sin. His people were to eat a lamb and smear its blood on the doorpost. The lamb’s blood meant that their household would be passed over and spared God’s judgement. More positively, the household would enter into God’s salvation.

The Lord’s Supper replaces the Passover under God’s ‘new deal‘ in Jesus. His death is the new act of salvation. It is spoken of as his ‘exodus‘ in Luke 9:31, echoing and overshadowing the first exodus under Moses.

The Passover look back on God’s salvation and also looked forward to its completion in the fulfilment of God’s promises. It also strengthened the faith of God’s people and encouraged them to trust god int he present. Exactly the same applies to the Lord’s Supper. Through it, we also look back, forward and to the present – as we remember Jesus who is ‘Agnus Dei‘, the Lamb of God (Jn 1: 29)

Let’s go back to the man under the signpost. Suppose he refuses to follow the sign to the restaurant. We would think him odd, perhaps ignorant or even silly.

The same applies if our attachment is to the ‘sign’ of the Lord’s Supper. An attachment to the sign of the sacrament, rather than to Christ, is more than silliness. It is idolatry. And so the reformers protested against what they saw as the blasphemous idolatry of those who became attached to the sign of the sacraments rather than to Christ who was signified.

Let’s not go there! Let’s follow the sign. Let’s put our faith in Christ who is the Passover lamb through whom we escape God’s judgement and enter into his salvation.