John does not give us the details of the first communion feast as do the other gospel writers. Instead, he gives us details of that event that the others do not.
Chapter 13:1-2 indicates, I believe, that we are here brought to the time when the Saviour instituted our Communion Feast. For details of the exact format of that feast, we must consult the other gospel writers and Paul (1 Cor 11:23-34).
However, what follows in chapters 13-17 are events that all took place at that special time of fellowship between Christ and His apostles just before His trial and crucifixion. 18:1 confirms this I believe.
This being so, perhaps we could observe:
I. THE COMMUNION FEAST WAS A TIME OF INSTRUCTION.
What wonderful things are contained in the chapters 13-17!
1. It is so clear that the Saviour would have us instructed in His eternal purpose and will. Ignorance is not of God. He would have us informed of His eternal purpose. The whole Bible is written for that purpose, Psalm 119:105, 2 Peter 1:19.
2. Intimate fellowship with Christ is the means of instruction. He is the Great Teacher. Nicodemus was correct in this point, John 3:2. See 14:21, 23.
3. It was a place of plain speaking. 16:29. If only we had hearts and ears to hear and understand! Luke 24:25-32.
II. THE COMMUNION FEAST WAS A TIME OF HOPE.
Today we do not only have the wonderful events of the cross before us but also that future day when the Saviour will return. This is a feast of HOPE.
"For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come," 1 Cor 11:26.
1. Christ explained what He would be doing after His ascension. 14:2. The word 'prepare' means 'to make ready'! Same word as Matt 22:4. As the Saviour has perfectly prepared the feast of the gospel, even so will He 'make ready' heaven for His people.
2. Christ assured His apostles of His return. "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also," 14:3.
3. Christ assured His apostles of the presence of the Holy Spirit while He is away. 14:16-18. The Saviour is present with us today in and by his blessed Spirit. "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you," verse 18.
III. THE COMMUNION FEAST WAS A TIME OF COMFORT.
The 5 chapters which record this time of fellowship contain so much blessed comfort for the child of God.
1. We can expect an increase of knowledge as we continue with the Lord. 13:7. Sometimes we have to wait in faith before we obtain an understanding of God's dealings with us!
2. We learn that often treachery hides under a very convincing mask of profession! 13:18-27.
3. We learn that God's purpose to glorify Himself through His Son will take place. 13:31-32. These words were spoken just after Judas left to betray the Lord Jesus.
4. We learn of our own weakness and failures! 13:37-38. Like Peter, we do not believe that we are capable of such sin, but we are!
5. We learn that the Saviour is praying for us. 16:33-17:1. This table reminds us of the terrible spirit of the world! It crucified the Lord Jesus, Acts 2:23. 1 Pet 4:12-14.
How many other lessons we could glean from the chapters 14-17 but time forbids us. Please read these chapters and note the instruction given.
Let our gathering today be no ritualistic, mundane assembly but a time of conscious fellowship and true spiritual communion with the Lord Jesus Himself!
May we say with those of old: "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" Luke 24:32.