Anticipation – The Earnest Forward Look of Communion


I have been looking forward to this morning. For quite awhile now we've had communion on the second Sunday of the month “ combining it with our missions focus, but I've always felt as if one or the other were straining to be completed. I continually wanted Communion to take precedent so that missions began to be less and less the focus of the second Sunday. So today we're putting Communion where it belongs: First.
On the first Sunday of each month now, we will be able to focus our worship towards Communion. That will enable us to maintain an adequate focus on Missions for the second Sunday.
That is why I have been looking forward to this day. And that provides something of an introduction to our text today concerning the anticipation of Communion.
Turn in your Bibles to the book of Matthew the twenty sixth chapter and read verses 26-29 with me.
When you read a familiar text we're often given to glossing over it so read it with me again:
Notice the last verse especially. The portion of the Passover feast which Jesus converted into the communion is laced with anticipation. Listen again to what Jesus says, "But I say to you, I absolutely will not drink of this the fruit of the vine {from now} until that day when I will drink with you new in the kingdom of my Father.
(My translation).
The anticipation inherent in the entire passage looks to the past the present and the future. Today I want to look mostly at it's anticipation of the future. But first let's look at how it anticipates the past and the present

Communion Anticipates The Past

In the Past we see the Passover which itself was commemorative of the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt by the mighty hand of God – the very meal became anticipatory for the Messiah – in fact it was given as an eternal ordinance to the Jewish people (Exodus 12:14). The Passover will continue to be kept in the kingdom of God.
When Jesus sat down with his disciples to dine that evening it was at the Passover meal that they ate. History tells us that there were two observations of the Passover born partly from the necessity of killing so many lambs and yet mostly due to different ways of reckoning the dates as being from sunset to sunset or sunrise to sunrise. It was in this way, that Jesus was able to sit down with his disciples and eat the Passover according to the Galilean reckoning but still was able to die at the precise moment that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in time for the Passover according to the Judean reckoning.

Communion Anticipates The Present

We see the anticipation of the present in Jesus' own words, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you…" (Luke 22:15). Jesus was looking forward to this moment. We don't know for how long, but I'm fairly certain the desire for it had been growing throughout his ministry because the cross was the first major marker in fulfilling the redemptive goal of his ministry. We also see the anticipation of the present in scripture's commands that we take communion regularly (1 Cor 11:26).

Communion Anticipates The Future

When we get to the portion of the Passover meal which Jesus turns into the Communion celebration we find that he has just passed and probably partaken of the third cup which symbolizes the sacrifice he is about to make. But there were four glasses of wine drunk during the Passover celebration. Jesus refuses the fourth cup because it symbolizes the Kingdom of God. But since Jesus knows he can't get there until he goes through the cross he abstains. And he makes in the 29th verse a proclamation.
"But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." (Mt 26:29, NASB95).
When Jesus says that he will not drink the fruit of the vine again he couches it in terms not of finality "“ as if it were a mere vow of abstinence; but rather In terms of prophecy. He clearly implies to his disciples and to us that he will indeed take part in a Passover celebration again; and he even tells us "when" he will do so. The fulfillment of it will have to wait until he is reigning on the throne of his kingdom. When he says that, Jesus fills the communion meal with an attitude of anticipation.
From this forward looking aspect, communion anticipates five distinct and at the time of it's inception, future events.

Communion Anticipates Christ's Resurrection

The fact that Jesus has already prophesied of his death by passing out the bread as a symbol of his broken body and the wine as the symbol of the fullness of his death demands by implication that if Jesus is ever to drink this wine again, there must be a resurrection. Jesus never hid his plan for a resurrection from his disciples. The single word "Until" floods the ceremony of his death with the promise of his resurrection. But the promise extends beyond a resurrection up to time when the Kingdom of God will finally be established.
And though the disciples couldn't have known that after his resurrection Jesus would leave for at least some two-thousand years we can see it. Since Jesus has gone away, he must return in order to establish his kingdom and in this way our celebration of communion anticipates the return of Christ!

Communion Anticipates Christ's Return

This is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:26 that in the communion we "proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." God has fixed a day and an hour when Christ will return. OH! How we long for that day. Let it be this day that Christ would return and begin to establish his eternal kingdom. Every time we take communion "“ we anticipate his coming. And every time we anticipate his coming, we anticipate our transformation!

Communion Anticipates the Rapture of the Church

By anticipating the return of Christ the communion anticipates the rapture. 1 John 3:2 says that ""¦ when He appears [at his coming] we will be [transformed to be just] like Him, because we will see Him just as He is." (1 Jn 3:2b, NASB95)

Communion Anticipates our Reward

Moreover just as when Jesus comes we will be caught up to be with him, he also will bring his reward. Revelation 22:12 says "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done." There is an anticipation of our reward in the return of Christ as we drink this with Jesus in his Father's kingdom. And the kingdom of God is the fifth and final anticipation:

Communion Anticipates the Reign of Christ

Jesus proclaims that he is going to drink the wine of Passover again in the kingdom of his Father "“ which is the reign of Christ on earth. And when that happens, the separation which his disciples had to endure at both the cross and the ascension will be over and our fellowship with him will be renewed when he reigns as king over all the earth.
And in that day all the nations of the earth will stream into Jerusalem saying "let us go up to Jerusalem that we might see Jesus!"
The Lord 's Supper therefore is not only a time to gratefully remember the past but it is also a time to joyfully anticipate the future.
Therefore with your hearts firmly set on Christ let's partake of this communion celebration together in rememberance of Christ and in anticipation of his return.
AMEN.
As we close today at the conclusion of this communion celebration let me read the lyrics of this hymn from James Montgomery titled, "According To Thy Gracious Word."
According to Thy Gracious Word by James Montgomery
According to Thy gracious word, in meek humility, this will I do, my dying Lord: I will remember Thee.
Thy body, broken for my sake, my bread from heav'n shall be; Thy testamental cup I take, and thus remember Thee.
When to the cross I turn mine eyes and rest on Calvary, O Lamb of God, my sacrifice, I must remember Thee"”
Remember Thee and all Thy pains and all Thy love to me; yea, while a breath, a pulse remains will I remember Thee.
And when these failing lips grow dumb and mind and mem'ry flee, when you shalt in Thy kingdom come, Jesus, remember me!