The Supper and the Experience of our Lord

by Kevin Phipps on July 12, 2014

This past April I was introduced to a small book on the cross of Jesus that is different than any other book I have come across on the death of Christ. Now, if you are like me, you probably pumped the brakes as soon as you read the word 'different', but let me explain. The book I am referring to is The Cross in the Experience of Our Lord by R.A. Finlayson. Roderick Alick Finlayson was a minister and a systematic theology lecturer in the Free Church of Scotland during most of the 19th century. The book was taken from a series of talks in which he sought to expound the atonement from the perspective of Christ's experience. What makes the book 'different' is that it focuses on unpacking what it was like for the God-Man to suffer humilaition on the behalf of his people. His book reminds us that Scripture does not just give us facts about the atonement, but truly does testify to Christ's experience. 

Tomorrow we will partake of The Lord's Supper in our morning worship service, and I thought this excerpt from the chapter titled "The Two Feasts" would be helpful as we prepare our hearts to come to the table. 

Jesus, with infinite majesty and quiet deliberation, lays, as it were, the Paschal Lamb aside, and places himself on the table!

He took bread again, and, having given thanks, he broke it and offered it to them saying, ‘Take, eat: this is my body’ (Mark 14:22). If, indeed, the Paschal Lamb was commonly referred to as ‘the body’, did Christ’ words not  simply mean, ‘This my Paschal Lamb’, signifying  that he was the Pascal Lamb in this new ordinance? This would connect the Lord’s Supper with the Passover of the Old Testament as substance is connected with symbol, antitype with type… Our Lord took the cup, and history turned from the Old Covenant to the New as he uttered the words,  ‘This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you’ (Luke 22:20).

Thus the Supper betokened the utter and complete fulfillment of all that the Passover offered and promised. On that dread night in Egypt the Passover was observed as a stay of execution of the sentence of death on the first-born; that was all, a stay of execution, till the day of God’s judgment and retribution should come.  Now it has arrived and there can be a stay of execution no longer. The First-born is here and he must come under the avenging stroke. The blood that availed for the first-born of Israel avails not for him. There is now no ‘passing over’, for he is himself the First-born of a new family of God. He is the Lamb that gives shelter, but for himself there can be no shelter when the Angel of Retribution visits the earth. And so he says tenderly, firmly, ‘My body broken for you… my blood shed for you’.

And the Supper is a permanent channel by which the blessings of the grace of the atonement reach us. Do not reduce to an act of mere remembrance. He is not here as a man amongst men asking for a memorial to be set up. Men who know that death will rob them of their office will try to keep some vestige of their life alive. But it is not so in his case. He wants to continue ministering his grace to the world and he does it through the emblems of his broken body and shed blood. Remembering him thus in his death brings us into the fellowship of his sufferings that we may be conformable unto his death… Christ in his death a feast for famishing souls; life through him and life in him that there may be life for him. ‘For he was wounded for our transgressions.' [R.A. Finlayson (Reprinted 2013). The Cross in the Experience of Our Lord. Scotland: Christian Focus Publications. 63-64]

Roderick Alick Finlayson was born in Lochcarron in 1895. After studying at the Free Church College, Edinburgh, from 1919 to 1922, he was minister in various Free Church congregations before returning to the College in 1946 to lecture in Systematic Theology, which he did for many years. Prof Finlayson went to Glory in February 1989.

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