J.F. Peebles, Clarkston
[The fact that the Lord's Supper is nowhere in Scripture called a feast will hol prevent readers appreciating tin- refreshing mininistry hi this article, -Eds.].
The whole Christian life is characterized by feasting. It was to a feast that we were invited in the first Gospel invitation-" A certain man made a great supper and bade many." How blessed has been the provision made for us as sinners. David reminds us in his famous Shepherd Psalm that Die Shepherd has provided us with dainties suitable for the pilgrim pathway, so that the sheep of His heavenly pasture need never to go hungry-" Thou pre-parest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies." Then we are reminded in Rev. 19 that the Christian life will consummate in another feast, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, at which we shall dine with our Heavenly Bridegroom amid the glories of that home which He is at present preparing for us.
But there is a feast which, for the believer, never loses its charm, a feast first celebrated under the deepening shadows of Calvary, when He gathered His own around Him, and passing bread and wine to them in turn, explained their spiritual significance and said, " This do in remembrance of Me."
" Sweet feast of love divine,
`Tis grace; that makes us free to feed upon this bread and wine in memory, Lord, of Thee."
There are three other feasts, which portray some of the salient features of this unique feast. They are: (1) David- 2 Sam. 9, invited the feast to which Mephibosheth. (2) The Table of Shewbread-Ex. 25. 23-30. (3) The feast at Bethany-John 12. 1-3.
It is worthy of notice that, although the first was held in a palace, the second in a wilderness, and the third in a. house, on each occasion there was a supreme presence-in the first the presence of the king, in the second the august presence of God as seen in the Pillar of Cloud, and in the third the presence of the Lord Jesus Himself. It is obvious that the character of the place is of no consequence-it is the consciousness of the Divine Presence, which makes the feast. How often we have gathered with a few of God's saints in a Hall that was little more than a shack, and as the meeting ran its course the shack became a sanctuary. There are three thoughts which dominant the feasts above referred to, which have their spiritual counterpart in this great love feast. They are respectively: (1) Relationship, (2) Fellowship, and. (3) Worship. Let us look at these three historic scenes with their typical foreshadowing.
(1) The Palace (Relationship)
The two chief actors in the drama are David the king, and Mephibosheth the cripple. The latter has been the victim of his guardian's misunderstanding of the heart of David. He has not only been broken by the fall (2 Sam, 4. 4) but has been dwelling in Lo-debar, the place of no pasture. Now the gracious edict of the king has brought him from poverty to plenty and from the place of famine to the place of favour. He is welcomed to the palace by the king, whose supreme act of grace is revealed in his second edict, " He shall sit at my table as one of the king's sons." Not as a stranger on the ground of charity, but as a son on the ground of choice. Happy Mephibosheth! And what of us, who have been the victims of a greater fall and who by nature lived in the far country where famine abounded, but who, by grace, have been brought into the place of divine favour, and now sit at that noble feast as those who, by birth and adoption, are sons of the King? Do we rightly value the happy position into which grace has brought us as we sit at the King's table?
(2) The Wilderness (Fellowship)
The tribes of Israel are gathered in their prescribed positions and form an impressive company. In the centre of that gathering stands the sacred Tabernacle with its Outer Court, Holy Place, and Holiest of AH, It is the Sabbath morning and the priest is carrying in 12 fresh loaves to replace those, which have lain on the Table of Shewbread for the previous seven days. These loaves have a twofold typical significance-they speak of the 12 tribes of Israel, but they also speak of Christ, the Heavenly Meal-Offering. Their ingredients have the typical qualities of God's perfect Son. It would be true to say that God has been looking down on them for seven days and feasting upon them. He sees in them the typical foreshadowing of His beloved Son, and, in a secondary degree, the people who are His through relationship with His Son. At the end of seven days the priest enters with fresh loaves, and proceeds to feast upon those, which have lain in the presence of the Lord for the whole of the previous week. He thus feasts upon the very bread upon which God has feasted. Surely this is fellowship in its highest sense-finding mutual satisfaction in the same blessed Christ. 1 Jn. 1. 7 reminds us that " If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another." This is fellowship with the Lord Himself. If we gather at the Lord's Supper merely to have fellowship with other saints, then we have chosen the second-best. How often has our experience been that of the Emmaus disciples after such a feast " Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way.”
(3) The House at Bethany (Worship)
Unlike that other occasion in Luke 10, there are no complaints from Martha here. There, she was so busy watching Mary that she could not see the Lord! But here they made Him a supper, each contributing to His pleasure. Each has his or her function, and each performs it with divine precision and perfection. But it is Mary's contribution, which has made this feast so historic and precious. She has drawn her box of ointment from her bosom and is anointing the Lord's feet and wiping them with the hair of her head.
It is an act of supreme worship. The ointment is described by John as " very costly " and by Matthew as " very precious "-it was very costly to Mary, very precious to the Lord. Moreover the house was tilled with the odour of the ointment. Though that odour vanished eventually, the fragrance of her act of devotion has lasted for centuries-even to the present day.
And what of the Feast we attend? For what purpose do we gather? To break bread-merely? Or to pour forth the pent-up adoration of a heart that is in love with Christ? The fragrance of such an act will still fill the place and gladden the heart of Christ. The spirit of the hymn-writer was somewhat akin to Mary's when he concluded his immortal hymn thus: -
" Were the whole realm of nature mine. That were an offering far too small; Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my heart, my life, my all."
That is worship.