What is Holy Communion: A Foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet

What is Holy Communion: A Foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet

So far in this series, we have explored Holy Communion as:

  1. A Prayer of Thanksgiving – Anyone who loves Jesus and is ready to repent their sins is invited to the meal. To fully appreciate what God is doing, we confess our sins and actively praise Him. Luke 22:14-20
  2. Active Remembrance and Offering – Remembering what Jesus did and His offering to God on our behalves; then offering ourselves as a living sacrifice to God. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Hebrews 10:11-14; Ephesians 5:1-2; Romans 12:1-2
  3. Spiritual Nourishment – Sharing life with our loving God around the table feeds our souls. John 6:32-35

The Lord’s Supper is not simply a matter of past and present. Remembering what Christ did and the grace and spiritual nourishment we get today – Holy Communion also points us to what is yet to come. God gives us…

  1. A Foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet – An anticipation of God’s promises ultimately fulfilled. Luke 14:16-24; Matthew 26:26-29

The prophet Isaiah told of a vision about just that – when God will fulfill His promise. He uses language of feasting to describe that glorious day:

Isaiah 25:6-9
Verse 6: With the best of the best food and drink being served, enough for all the people of the world, this is going to be the biggest and best party you’ve ever been to. It’ll be the banquet of all banquets. No one’s ever going to stop talking about it. It’ll be a celebration of reconciliation and the defeat of death itself at the hands of God.
Verses 7-8: Isaiah’s message of promised redemption ultimately comes not from a man, but from God.
Verse 9: This is a feast worth preparing for and passionately anticipating!

Jesus also spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven as a coming banquet in Luke 14:16-24 and Matthew 22:2-14. He told a parable where there will be great feasting. There are some differences between these texts based on who the author’s audience was. For instance in…

Luke:

  • Luke specifically says many invitations went out. This tells us it’s a BIG banquet.
  • Luke also lists the actually excuses of those who were invited, which helps us to relate.
  • Luke’s account has the servant report that there is still room, and therefore the servant goes out to collect even more guests.

Matthew:

  • Matthew’s account specifically says this is a wedding banquet. Who’s getting married?
    • The son – Jesus is united with His church. So God is the King, the son is Jesus, then guests are us, the people in this world.
  • Matthew says the servants are sent out twice to those invited, and they ignored them twice, showing that God invites us more than once to come to Him.
  • Some messengers were killed. The king is furious and takes care of those who killed others.
  • In Matthew’s account the king says the invited guests aren’t worthy of the honor to dine at the feast.
  • After the poor, crippled, blind, and lame, after the good and bad people came, the banquet hall was filled with guests.
  • Then we have this strange piece about the wedding clothes. But before we get into that let me explain in greater detail some of the things that have happened so far.

Jesus wants a full house

First, God gives us an invitation to the banquet which is Heaven. It was customary in Jesus’ day to send two invitations to a party: the first to announce the event and the second to tell the guest that everything was ready. In this story, the king invited his guests three times. Yet they refused and insulated the king by making excuses. God wants us to join Him at His banquet, which will last for eternity. That’s why He sends us invitations again and again.

Excuses:  How many times have we made excuses for not going where God invited us because we felt we had other more pressing things to do, or we just wanted to do what we wanted to do instead of what God wanted us to do.

Have you ever woke up and thought, I’m tired and going to just rest instead of going to church today? Have you ever thought, I don’t feel like going to bible study this evening, so I’m just not going to go this week? Or I just don’t feel like calling that person, or taking time to take a meal to that person? There are so many times we would just rather do what we want to do. But however you feel, you can be certain that God is calling. God wants to spend time with you, God wants you to learn more about Him so you can trust and depend on Him more, God wants you to be a part of His miracles.

God never asks us to give up something good unless He plans to replace it with something even better. Extra sleep is good, but He wants to replace it with something even better. Jesus is calling us, yes, to work for Him. But He is not calling us to join Him in some terrible labor camp – He’s overall calling us to a feast – the wedding feast of the Lamb, when God and His beloved church will be joined forever.

Now let’s address the strange wedding clothes thing. In Jesus’ day, it was customary for wedding guests to be given wedding clothes to wear to the banquet. It was unthinkable to refuse to wear these clothes. That would insult the host, who could only assume that the guest was arrogant and thought he didn’t need these clothes, or that he did not want to take part in the wedding celebration. And that’s what happened to the guy in the story who refused to put on the wedding clothes and was thrown into the outer darkness.

Because see, the wedding clothes are the righteousness needed to enter God’s Kingdom – the total acceptance in God’s eyes that Christ gives every believer. Christ has provided these clothes of righteousness for everyone, but each person must choose to put them on in order to enter the King’s banquet (eternal life). There is an open invitation to accept Christ for who He is, believe in Him, and make Him your Savior. But you must be ready and put the clothes of righteousness on.  No one can do it for you.

*Righteousness. Let’s just be clear on that word. Righteousness does not mean you are perfect. You will not be perfect until the banquet, until you are in Heaven. It’s not about being perfect or imperfect. It’s about choice. A choice that you have. When you believe in Jesus, when you trust Him, God’s righteousness is poured over you.

The King said:
“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
“The wedding feast is ready and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor.”
“For none of these I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.”

Why? Because they didn’t choose to accept the invitation, the invitation to believe in Christ.

Now, who are the servants? That’s us too. That is the church. We as Christ’s servants are to go out and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing and teaching them all that Jesus taught us. We are to go out and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame, the “good and the bad” people. So in other words, Jesus basically commands us to go out and bring in the people no one else sees or wants because He wants them to come to His banquet. I love that about Jesus! He wants us to see as He sees, to see the world as He does. And Jesus wants a full house, not just to say His house is full – when you know who Jesus is, that doesn’t make any sense – it’s because He loves all of us and wants us all there! No matter what you’ve done or look like.

Jesus Destroys Evil and Death

There’s another thing to see in this parable and that is – evil is defeated at the hands of God. When the king was furious because the messengers were killed because they invited them to the banquet of a lifetime, he sent out his army to destroy them and their towns. No more evil exist. No more evil! Death was defeated at the hands of God.

In this parable, Jesus is giving us an invitation, gives us the clothes of righteousness to put on, destroys evil and death, and gives us a part in His story to bring as many people as we can to the banquet.

We should be excited about this! This is a wonderful opportunity! How could you not want to be a part of this?! We should be anticipating this amazing invitation if you haven’t already accepted it, we should be anticipating a beautiful reunion with those gone before us, and we should be anticipating the promises of God ultimately fulfilled! Once and for all done and complete!

Through Holy Communion, we can anticipate the heavenly banquet where we will feast forever with Jesus and with those we love and where God’s promises are complete. One of the main tasks of the church is to bring as many people with us to that banquet as we can.

Matthew 26:29
Jesus says, “I will never again drink of the fruit of this vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” And until then, the meal of our faith evokes all five of our senses.

We HEAR Christ’s words to us, inviting us to come to him.
We SEE the bread and cup, profound symbols of God’s love.
We SMELL the aroma of God’s grace as we approach the bread and cup.
We TOUCH for ourselves the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood, given freely for us all.
We TASTE the blessed bread, though small, is still more than enough to satisfy the hungry soul.

The sacred cup may be just a matter of drops, yet it mysteriously quenches our spiritual thirst. Drawing us into participation in the life of God, the most grace-filled meal of all deepens our faith and enhances our lives. We get to praise God, remember what He did, offer ourselves to Him, be spiritually nourished, have a taste of what’s to come in Heaven, and hear, see, smell, touch and taste the goodness of God.

Simply put, we get to celebrate the presence of Christ, God with us!