“Till He Come”

“As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.”
—I Corinthians 11:26

JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED on the fourteenth day of the Jewish month Nisan. The fourteenth day of Nisan will start approximately at six o’clock Friday evening, April 6. On that evening the Lord’s footstep followers the world over will gather in little companies to commemorate the death of Jesus. There will be many isolated ones, unable to meet with those of like precious faith, who will also observe the ceremony which Jesus instituted in the “upper room” that night when he met with his disciples to eat the Passover for the last time before he died.—Luke 22:12

It will be a solemn occasion for the brethren, yet a joyful one. It will help us to realize a little more vividly and realistically all that the death of Jesus means to us, and will continue to mean; and also what it will yet mean in terms of life-giving blessings to be administered to the whole world of mankind. It will be a blessed occasion also because those, who will that night commemorate the death of their Redeemer as he requested them to do, will experience the joy which results from obedience to his wishes.

Only two rituals, or ceremonials, are enjoined upon Christians by the Scriptures. One of these is water baptism, a symbol of the burial of our wills into the will of God through Christ, and the other is the commemoration of the Master’s death. Among the professed followers of the Lord, various customs prevail as to the time and frequency of this simple ceremonial. Among some Protestant denominations it is observed every Sunday; with others, once a month; and with still others once each quarter. But just as we would celebrate the birthday of a friend only on the proper anniversary date, so we think it is proper to commemorate the death of Jesus only on the true anniversary date of his death.

There is a special blessing attached to remembering the Lord’s death on this proper date each year—the fourteenth day of Nisan. This was the date on which the Passover lamb was slain, and Jesus was the antitypical Passover lamb—the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) It was appropriate, that he be led “as a lamb to the slaughter” on the very day that the typical Passover lamb was slain. (Isa. 53:7) For him, type and antitype combined on that memorable day nearly two thousand years ago.

Upon Jesus’ instructions, his disciples had prepared the yearly Passover supper in the upper room in Jerusalem, and there he spent a considerable portion of the evening with them. Matthew, Mark, and Luke give us very brief accounts of what occurred that evening, but John fills in for us; and, from his record, we learn that Jesus spent considerable time in a heart-to-heart talk with his disciples, giving them needed instructions and comfort in view of the fact that he was so soon to be taken from them.

During their association with Jesus, the disciples had not fully grasped the spirit and purpose of his ministry. They rejoiced in what he had told them about the kingdom, and especially in those teachings which gave them reason to believe that they would be exalted to reign with him. But the thought of rulership outweighed other considerations and they disputed with one another as to which one of them would be greatest in the kingdom.—Luke 22:24

Apparently one of these disputes arose that night in the upper room, and Jesus, noting it, gave them a lesson in humility by washing his disciples’ feet. Jesus was their Master and Lord, and eventually will be Lord of the whole earth, yet he had not come into the world to be ministered unto, but to minister, and his greatest ministry was in giving his life to be a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.—I John 2:2

It was also in the upper room that night that Jesus gave his disciples that “new commandment, … That ye love one another; as I have loved you.” (John 13:34) The disciples at that time could not grasp the full meaning of this ‘new commandment,’ but they actually put it into practice as a guiding principle in their lives. The apostles were just as ready to lay down their lives for one another as Jesus was, and all of them actually suffered death as a result of their faithfulness to the Lord and to his cause.

The disciples had sensed from various things Jesus had said that he expected to leave them, to go away. They perhaps remembered the parable of the “certain nobleman,” who went into a “far country” (Luke 19:12) to receive a kingdom and to return, and understood that Jesus was probably the ‘nobleman’ of this parable. So Peter asked Jesus, “Whither goest thou?” Jesus answered, “Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.”—John 13:36

How true this proved to be! Peter and all the true disciples of the Master throughout the age have followed him into death, being planted together in the likeness of his death. Being a Christian is often referred to as following in Jesus’ footsteps, but do we always realize where those steps lead us as we continue walking in them? We know that they are ‘steps’ of kindness, sympathy, and mercy toward the erring. They are also steps of self-sacrifice, which, if we continue walking in them, will lead us into his death. To encourage us in this way of sacrifice we have his promise, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”—Rev. 2:10


It was only natural that the disciples should be greatly concerned over the possibility that Jesus would leave them, although at this time they had not fully grasped the fact that it would be in death. Noting their anxiety he said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 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.”—John 14:1-3

Jesus was going away—going to prepare a place for them. According to his promise, he would return for them and take them to the place he had prepared, and then they would again be together. What a wonderful assurance this must have been to them! Perhaps Paul had this promise in mind when, in our text, he says that as often as we partake of the ‘bread’ and the ‘cup’ we do show forth the Lord’s death ‘till he come.’ There are different aspects of our Lord’s return and Second Presence. He comes to serve his people with ‘meat in due season.’ He comes as the Chief Reaper in the harvest with which the age ends. He comes with his holy angels, or messengers, to conduct the judgment of mankind. He also comes to take his followers unto himself. Paul’s thought would therefore seem to be that until we are joined with our Lord on the other side of the veil, or as long as we are in the flesh, we are to continue showing forth his death by partaking of the bread and the cup.

Jesus knew that it was impossible for the natural man to grasp the things of the Spirit, yet he longed for the disciples to understand him better—“Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?” (John 14:9) The same was true of the others. They loved their Master. They believed that he was the Christ. On one occasion, by the help of the Father, Peter had identified Jesus as the “Son of the living God.” (John 6:69) But in many ways Jesus continued to remain a stranger to his disciples.

After the Holy Spirit was given to them, they called to remembrance these wonderful things. It was then that John wrote his gospel and explained in considerable detail how Jesus came forth from the Father, was made flesh, and how they beheld his glory as “the only begotten of the Father.” (John 1:14) But in the upper room that night, these precious truths were all vague to them. Even Jesus’ promise to send the “Comforter,” the Holy Spirit, did not convey to them the meaning it has for us now.—John 14:16

It was on this occasion that Jesus related the parable of the vine and the branches, saying “I am the vine, ye are the branches.” (John 15:1-7) This reveals a very vital relationship between Jesus and his followers—a partnership, a oneness essential to the accomplishment of the Divine purpose in us. Jesus was very much concerned about this oneness, and in his closing prayer in the upper room, prayed that those whom the Father had given him, and those who believed on him through their word, might be one with him, even as he was one with the Father.

It was toward the close of his discourse that Jesus said, “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”—John 16:21,22

How well Jesus knew what faced the disciples! That night their ‘travail’ had begun, and it was to increase as they went with him to Gethsemane. They witnessed his arrest, and from afar off, unable to go to his rescue, saw their beloved Master die upon the cross. As he prophesied, their ‘pain’ later was turned into joy by the assurance that he had been raised from the dead.

As Jesus continued to talk with his disciples, their minds seemed to grasp a little more clearly the import of at least some of what he said. After saying that he had come forth from the Father, and would return to the Father, “his disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, … by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.” Then “Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?”—John 16:29-31

Jesus knew, however, that their comprehension was not very deep, and that consequently their belief was not strong, because he said that they would all forsake him and that in his hour of trial he would be left alone. But he knew also that they would be regathered to him, that their joy would then be full, and that endued with the Holy Spirit they would be his faithful witnesses, and that despite the persecutions that would come upon them from the world, they would continue to be of good cheer, knowing that he had overcome the world and that they would be given strength to do the same.


It was during this same gathering in the upper room, when Jesus imparted to his disciples these wonderful and needed closing lessons in his faithful and patient ministry on their behalf, that he asked them to commemorate his death by partaking of the ‘bread’ and the ‘cup.’ This was probably toward the close of the evening, for it was after they had finished partaking of the Passover supper.

It was a simple ceremony Jesus enjoined upon his disciples. Taking some of the unleavened bread remaining from the Passover supper, he broke it, asked his Father’s blessing upon it, and, giving it to his disciples, he said, “Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you.” (I Cor. 11:24) Obviously the thought is that the bread represented, or was a symbol of his body that soon would be broken in death.

“After the same manner also he took the cup” containing the fruit of the vine, and, after he had asked his Father’s blessing upon it, Jesus gave it to his disciples, and asked them to partake of it, explaining that it was, or represented, his shed blood—shed for many for the remission of sins. (I Cor. 11:25) We eat and drink in order to live, to remain alive, so the basic lesson in this short Memorial service is that we receive eternal life by partaking of, or appropriating to ourselves, the provision of life which was made by his sacrifice—his broken body and his shed blood.

As we partake of these emblems of the Master’s sacrifice, we can rejoice not only in the provision of life for us which they symbolize, but also in the realization that through this same sacrifice of his flesh all mankind will yet have an opportunity to be restored to life. He is a “propitiation,” a satisfaction, not only for our sins, but also for the sins of the whole world. —I John 2:2


Paul suggests there is still another precious thought in connection with our partaking of the Memorial Supper. As he indicates, the bread pictures our “communion,” or our common participation—in the Greek text the word means ‘partnership’—in the ‘body’ and the ‘blood’ of Christ. (I Cor. 10:16) It is not merely that we receive life from Christ, but in turn, we also have the privilege of sharing in his sacrificial death, of dying with him, in order that we might live with him.

So, in partaking of the Memorial Supper we are afforded an excellent opportunity to renew our consecration to be dead with him, to walk the narrow way of sacrifice more faithfully, to fulfil more zealously our covenant with the Lord by sacrifice. More than nineteen centuries have passed since Jesus instituted this memorial of his death, but all his body members have not yet been sacrificed. We know, however, that it will be only ‘a little while, now he has come,’ when the last member will pass under the ‘veil’ and be joined with him. The realization of this will help to make our showing forth of his death on the evening of April 6 even more solemn and significant.

‘Till he come.’ We believe that he is already present, fulfilling his promise to serve the ‘household of faith’ with ‘meat in due season.’ We believe that as the Chief Reaper he is supervising the harvest work, and watching over his faithful reapers, to encourage and strengthen them in their every time of need.

Furthermore, in this day of his parousia, he is also fulfilling his promise made to his disciples in the upper room that he would return to ‘receive’ them unto himself. Those who, throughout the age, proved faithful and fell asleep in death to await the crown of life which was laid up for them, have already been awakened and have been received by our Lord. Those who are “alive and remain” are, as each one proves faithful even unto death, likewise being joined with him.—I Thess. 4:17


For this we are waiting, rejoicing in the opportunities that are ours of continuing the work of sacrificing the flesh and its interests. He has come, but until we are received unto him beyond the veil, we will continue to show forth his death, not merely by partaking of the Memorial emblems once a year, but by daily following in his steps of sacrifice, as we depend upon the merit of his blood to cover our imperfections, and upon Divine strength to sustain us in our every time of need.

We expect the evening of April 6 will be a hallowed and blessed occasion for thousands of the Lord’s consecrated people throughout the world. Many who are isolated will partake of the emblems alone with the Lord. If we can help to put any of these in touch with others of like precious faith we will be happy to do so, May we all, through prayer and self-examination, endeavor to cleanse our hearts from the leaven of sin, that we may be able to partake of the bread and the cup in sincerity and in truth. By Divine grace, let us endeavor to make April 6 the beginning of the most wonderful and blessed year in the Lord we have ever experienced.

It will be such, if we continue to appreciate and are faithful to the principles of discipleship which Jesus discussed on that last memorable night before he was crucified. Among these are humility and patience toward those who err, obedience to Jesus’ new commandment to love one another as he loved us, a daily longing for the time when he will receive us unto himself, and a willingness as his witnesses to follow him into death.

Like the disciples, we also will need the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and its guiding and strengthening influence in our lives. With us, it is not a matter of waiting until it is ‘poured out,’ (Acts 2:17-18) as they had to wait for Pentecost, for we have already received this “unction from the Holy One.” (I John 2:20) Already it has begotten in us a new hope of life, and by it we are anointed to proclaim the glad tidings of the kingdom.

Moreover, the Holy Spirit witnesses with our spirits that we are the children of God, therefore heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. Through the precious promises of the Word, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, has ‘sealed’ us (Eph. 1:13), and we have the assurance that since God is for us, nothing can effectively be against us. (Rom. 8:31) What a blessed lot indeed is ours! Why should we not rejoice as we continue our journey in the narrow way toward Mount Zion to join the “Lamb that was slain!”—Rev. 5:12

Dawn Bible Students Association
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