Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 35, 1897

The Lord’s Supper and the Ordinance of Feet-Washing


April 6, 1897

This manuscript is published in entirety in RH 05/31/1898, 06/07/1898.

“Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, the Master saith unto thee. Where is the guest chamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall show you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; For I say unto you, I will not anymore eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.” [Luke 22:7-18.] 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 1

The symbols of the Lord’s house are simple and plainly understood, and the truths represented by them are of the deepest significance to us. In instituting the sacramental service to take the place of the Passover, Christ left for His church a memorial of His great sacrifice for man. “This do,” He said “in remembrance of me.” [Verse 19.] This was the point of transition between two economies and their two great festivals. The one was to close forever; the other, which He has just established, is to take place, and to control through all time as the memorial of His death. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 2

“And he took bread, and gave thanks and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined; but woe unto him by whom he is betrayed!” [Verses 19-22.] “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.” [John 13:18.] 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 3

With the rest of the disciples Judas partook of the bread and wine symbolizing the body and blood of Christ. This was the last time that Judas would be present with the twelve. But that the Scripture might be fulfilled, he left the sacramental table, Christ’s last gift to His disciples, to complete his work of betrayal. O why did not Judas at that solemn service recognize in its true light the awful work he had pledged himself to perform? Why did he not throw himself penitent at the feet of Jesus? He had not yet passed the boundary of God’s mercy and love. But when his decision was made to carry out his purpose, when he left the presence of his Lord and fellow disciples, that barrier was passed. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 4

In this last act of Christ in partaking with His disciples of the bread and wine He pledged Himself to them as their Redeemer by a new covenant in which it was written and sealed, that upon all who will receive Christ by faith will be bestowed all the blessings that heaven can supply, both in this life, and in the future immortal life. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 5

This covenant deed was to be ratified with Christ’s own blood, which it had been the office of the old sacrificial offerings to keep before their minds. This was understood by the apostle Paul who said, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 6

“Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo, I come, to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering often times the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” [Hebrews 10:1-12.] 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 7

Christ designed that this supper should be often commemorated in order to bring to our remembrance His sacrifice in giving His life for the remission of the sins of all who will believe and receive Him. And this ordinance is not to be exclusive as many would make it. Each must participate in it publicly, and thus bear witness: I accept Christ as my personal Saviour. He gave His life for me that I might be rescued from death. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 8

“And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him: Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus said to him, He that is washed, needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.” [John 13:2-11.] 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 9

The children of God are to bear in mind that God is brought sacredly near on every such occasion as the service of feet-washing. As they come up to this ordinance they should bring to their remembrance the words of the Lord of life and glory, “Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you. The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” [Verses 12-17.] 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 10

The object of this service is to call to mind the humility of our Lord, and the lessons He has given in washing the feet of His disciples. There is in man a disposition to esteem himself more highly than his brother, to work for himself, to serve himself, to seek the highest place, and often evil surmisings and bitterness of spirit spring up over mere trifles. This ordinance, preceding the Lord’s supper, is to clear away these misunderstandings, to bring man out of his selfishness, down from his stilts of self exaltation, to the humility of spirit that will lead him to wash his brother’s feet. It is not in God’s plan that this should be deferred because some are considered unworthy to engage in it. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 11

The Lord washed the feet of Judas. He did not refuse him a place at the table although He knew that he would leave that table to act his part in the betrayal of his Lord. It is not possible for human beings to tell who is worthy and who is not. They cannot read the secrets of the soul. It is not for them to say, “I will not attend the ordinance if such an one is present to act a part.” Nor has God left it to man to say who shall present themselves on these occasions. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 12

The ordinance of feet washing has been especially enjoined by Christ. And on these occasions the Holy Spirit is present to witness and put a seal to His ordinance. He is there to convict and soften the heart. He draws the believers together, and makes them one in heart. They are made to feel that Christ indeed is present to clear away the rubbish that has accumulated to separate the hearts of the children of God. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 13

These ordinances are regarded too much as a form, and not as a sacred thing to call to mind the Lord Jesus. Christ ordained them, and delegated His power to His ministers who have the treasure in earthen vessels. They are to superintend these special appointments of the One who established them to continue to the close of time. It is on these, His own appointments, that He meets with and energizes His people by His personal presence. Notwithstanding that there may be hearts and hands that are unsanctified who will administer the ordinance, yet Jesus is in the midst of His people to work on human hearts. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 14

All who keep before them in the act of feet washing the humiliation of Christ, all who will keep their hearts humble, keep in view the true tabernacle and service, which the Lord pitched and not man, will never fail to derive benefit from every discourse given, and spiritual strength from every communion. They are established for a purpose. Christ’s followers are to bear in mind the example of Christ in His humility. This ordinance is to encourage humility, but it should never be termed humiliating in the sense of being degrading to humanity. It is to [make] tender our hearts toward each other. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 15

Those who come to the sacramental service with their hearts open to the influence of the Spirit of God will be greatly blessed, even if the ones who officiate are not benefited thereby. Christ is there to make the heart susceptible to His Holy Spirit, and to discern the entire dependence of His people upon Him for their salvation. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him; I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.” [Isaiah 57:15-17.] 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 16

These ordinances were established that all might have the privilege of acknowledging their wrongs, and confessing their sins at this time. And as the heart is softened and melted under the movings of the Holy Spirit, the heavenly anointing gives them spiritual eyesight to discern their errors. Jesus has pledged Himself to be present in the fulness of His grace to change the current of the minds that are running in selfish channels. This service cannot be repeated without one thought linking itself with another. Thus a chain of thought calls up remembrance of blessings, of kindnesses, and of favors received from friends and brethren that have passed out of mind. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 17

The Holy Spirit, with its quickening, vivifying power presents the ingratitude and lack of love that has been chilled and frozen by the hateful root of bitterness. Link after link of memory’s chain is strengthened. The Spirit of God is at work upon human minds. The defects of character, the neglect of duties, the ingratitude to God, are brought to the remembrance, and the thoughts are brought into captivity to Christ. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 18

How the heart of Christ is pierced by the forgetfulness, the unwillingness and neglect to do the things that God has enjoined upon us. The heart is in need of being broken, that selfishness may be cut away from the soul and put away from the practice. If we have learned the lessons that Christ desires to teach us in this preparatory service, the Witness will respond to the feelings implanted in the heart for a higher spiritual life. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 19

“Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father; and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” [John 14:19-21.] Christ does indeed manifest Himself unto the believers who thus reveal their faith by coming together at the communion table with the simplicity of children to remember Jesus, His words, and His requirements, determined to exclude from the heart all selfishness and love of supremacy. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 20

The broken bread and pure juice of the grape are to represent the broken body and spilled blood of the Son of God. Bread that is leavened must not come on the communion table. The unleavened bread is the only correct representation of the Lord’s supper. Nothing fermented is to be used. Only the pure fruit of the vine and the unleavened bread are to be used. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 21

We do not come to the ordinances of the Lord’s house merely as a form. We do not make it our business as we gather around the table of our Lord to ponder over and depreciate our short comings. The ordinance of feet washing embraced all this. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” [Verse 26.] We do not come with our minds diverted to our past experience in the religious life, whether that experience be elevating or depressing. We do not come to revive in our minds the ill treatment we have received at the hands of our brethren. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 22

The ordinance of humility was to clear our moral horizon of the rubbish that has been permitted to accumulate. We have assembled now to meet with Jesus Christ, to commune with Him. Every heart is to be open to the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. Our minds and hearts are to be fixed on Christ as the great Center, on whom our hopes of eternal life depend. We are not to stand in the shadow, but in the saving light of the cross. With hearts cleansed by His most precious blood, and in full consciousness of His presence, although unseen, we may listen to His voice that thrills the soul with the words, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” [Verse 27.] On these occasions, heaven is brought very near to the true members of the Lord’s family, and they are brought into sweet communion one with another. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 23

There can be no union between our soul and God only through Christ. The union and love between brother and brother must be cemented and rendered eternal by the love of Jesus. Then do we not assemble around the communion table to meet and converse with Jesus as we receive the bread and wine that symbolize His broken body and spilled blood? Thus we must feed on Christ, or we can have no communion with Him. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 24

Christ knows that if we allowed our minds to become engrossed with earthly things, we would forget Him in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered, that we would lose the life-giving power, the peace and joy, which the Lord wishes us to receive and retain. And He said, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” [John 15:10-12.] 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 25

These things we are never to forget. The love of Jesus, with its convincing power, is to be kept fresh in the memory. We must not forget Him who is our strength and our sufficiency. He has instituted this service that it may speak constantly to our senses of the love of God that has been expressed in our behalf. He gave us all that it was possible for Him to give, He gave His life for the life of the world. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 26

And His appeal to our love is strikingly made in the words of the apostle Paul, “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 27

“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.” [1 Corinthians 11:23-34.] 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 28

The second appearing of Christ in the clouds of heaven is ever to be kept before us. Almost His last words of consolation to His disciples were, “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.] 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 29

And the communion is to be a constant reminder of this. Says Christ, Under a conviction of sin, remember that I died for you. When oppressed and persecuted and afflicted for My sake and the gospel’s, remember My love was so great that I gave My life for you. Will you evidence your love for me, if required to die for me? When you feel your duties stern and severe, and almost too heavy to bear, will you remember that it was for your sake I endured the cross, despising the shame? When your heart shrinks from the trying ordeal, remember that your Redeemer liveth to make intercession for you. “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” [John 16:33.] 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 30

Christ declared, “Verily, verily I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” [John 6:53.] We cannot as individuals maintain our bodily life unless we eat and drink for ourselves of temporal food. In order to maintain spiritual life and health, we must feed on Jesus Christ, which is studying His Word, and doing those things He has commanded in that Word. This will constitute a close union with Christ. The branch that bears fruit must be in the vine, a part of it, receiving nourishment from the parent stalk. This is living by faith upon the Son of God. 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 31

Christ has declared, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:1-5.] 12LtMs, Ms 35, 1897, par. 32