Last Christmas, I received a remarkable gift from my grandmother, who is an accomplished watercolorist. She painted a picture of the first hibiscus plant I had grown at my new house in St. Cloud, Florida. As I gazed at the painting, I could imagine her masterfully applying washes of reds and pinks to form the blossoms and mixing lush greens for the leaves.
By creating this painting, she entered into my context to remind me of our connection with one another. She could have painted a magnificent waterscape at sunrise from her living room window on Holmes Beach, but she chose as her subject my little container garden with the funky 1970s stenciled porch floor in the background, all of which she carefully marked out in detail. Watercolor represents a connection between my grandmother and me; we have painted together for decades, since she taught me when I was eight. The image she gifted was a tangible expression of this connection we share.
When you take the Lord’s Supper, Jesus presents you with a gift that does this very thing!
In the Lord’s Supper, God enters into our context and affirms the unbreakable, covenantal, life-giving connection we share with him. He uses humble, earthly items to impart to us something heavenly. In John 6, Jesus teaches the that he is the Bread from Heaven, and what that means for us: “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he will also live because of me” (John 6:56-57, ESV). The life we receive as we feed on Jesus flows out of the life of God, grounded in the assurance of an eternal bond with him through Jesus Christ. In some mysterious way, as we take the Supper, the Holy Spirit joins us with Christ’s sustaining, assuring power in that moment (1 Cor. 10:16-17).
Source of True Nourishment
A favorite childhood candy of mine was the watermelon Jolly Rancher. This tangy treat has a delightful taste which reminds one of watermelon, though the candy contains not even a fraction of the nutrients in actual watermelon. In John 6:49 and 55, Jesus contrasts the Old Testament manna with himself: “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died” (v. 49)…my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (v. 55). Jesus is saying that he is the most genuine, effective nourishment one could possibly have. The manna was only able to sustain the Israelites for a limited amount of time—eventually, they died. Jesus, however, has the life of God within him (6:57), giving life to those who partake of him in faith (6:51, 53). Though the manna did provide actual nutrition, it essentially pointed—as do Jolly Ranchers—to the source of true food. The Old Testament saints awaited the time when they would be fed with the eternally life-saving bread—Jesus Christ. As believers, we look forward to eternal life with Christ, but we are actually living it here and now! To know and walk with Christ is to be living out eternal life in this very moment (John 17:3), a reality that carries on forever. Our eternal beings need nourishment appropriate to that life, helping us grow in faith and holiness. Indeed, it is the work of Jesus through his life, death, and resurrection that feeds us in this way, not the elements in and of themselves.
Accepted in Christ
As we take this meal, Christ also assures us of our unbreakable bond with God. If you’ve ever gone through seasons of doubt, unsure of your permanent connection to Christ, you can appreciate how life-giving such assurance is. Jesus says in John 6:27 that the Father has set his seal on him. The wax seal used to be a common feature of official letters, guaranteeing the authenticity and authorship of every word. The seal bore the writer’s crest, initial, or symbol, and prevented anyone from opening the letter to edit it. God setting his seal on Jesus means he accepted what Christ accomplished in his life, death, and resurrection, and when we are in Christ, God accepts us too. When, as believers, we take in Christ’s body and blood through faith, we are being marked by that very seal!
A Tangible Reminder
It is also reassuring to our faith that we get to concretely act it out as we participate in the Supper. My husband and I have been married for almost ten years. We kissed on our wedding day, but the act of connection didn’t stop then. We greet each other similarly every day with a hug or kiss to tangibly remind one another of the covenantal bond we share. This is what Christ does with us, his Bride, as we partake of the Lord’s Supper. He enters into our context, using items we can taste, see, and touch, to connect with us. When you take the Lord’s Supper, Christ is reaching out to you in this way—and inviting your response—reminding you that you are his forever.
Jesus calls us as his disciples to abide in him, but he doesn’t leave us to figure out how to do so on our own. He invites us to engage in specific activities, such as the Lord’s Supper. In this meal, Christ draws near to us as he sustains us unto eternity and guarantees we are his, making these realities personal and palpable. It is a gift of connection with Jesus that you can receive regularly. When you partake of the Lord’s Supper in corporate worship, you, along with other believers, abide in Christ and grow in grace.
 C.K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John: An Introduction with Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1978), 299.
About the Author:
Andrea is married to B.J. Milgate, the Senior Pastor of Lake Nona Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Florida, where she serves as the worship director. She received her Master of Arts in Exegetical Theology from Covenant Theological Seminary in 2019. Andrea is also a piano instructor and part-time hospital chaplain. She loves coffee and anything with coconut. In her free time, you might find her playing the piano, oil painting, gardening, or playing with her cats, Sarah and Pepper.