My son just turned five. In our church, that means he graduated from nursery and now joins us for the worship service. This presents a few challenges of course, but also some wonderful blessings. On Sunday, we celebrated the Lord’s Supper. The gospel was preached. The Lord’s Supper was explained thoroughly. The bread and the cup were passed around. My son was mesmerized by the whole event. He sensed the reverence of the moment. He was also really eager to join in this corporate snack time. He whispered with excitement, “Do I get my own little juice?!” Its a good question and one that we should think deeply about. Here are two exhortations to the parent in our church:
Teach Substitutionary Atonement to Your Kids by Explaining the Supper to Them
The Lord’s Supper is a glorious opportunity to teach important theology to your children. The bread and the cup serve as physical symbols that bring Christ’s atonement to life. I leaned over and broke the bread in front of my son and whispered, “What does this represent?” He answered with a sweet simplicity, “God’s body.” I held the cup in front of him and said, “The night before Jesus died he poured out a cup, and said that his blood would be poured out. Do you know why Jesus shed his blood?” He answered, “For our sins.” This was a divinely designed moment. The supper was given to us so that we might remember and proclaim the essence of what was accomplished through the cross. As a parent, don’t let these moments pass you by. They are God-given opportunities.
Teach the Necessity of Regeneration to Your Kids by Withholding the Supper from Them
Understanding that Jesus’ body was broken for us and his blood was poured out for us is wonderful, but simply understanding these things does not make us beneficiaries of Christ’s sacrifice. We are not saved by intellectual ascent. We are saved by genuine faith. Jesus teaches that the kingdom of God is reserved only for those who have been born again through their trust in Jesus. My son understands some aspects of the gospel on a basic level, but he has not repented of his sins or placed faith in Jesus yet. He is not yet born again. He cannot yet examine himself and confirm that forgiveness is eternally his. He does not inherit salvation simply because I have salvation. He cannot earn salvation by partaking in the supper or any other religious activity. He will have to place saving faith in Jesus and until he does the Lord’s Supper is not yet for him.
When my son asked whether he got his own little juice, my answer was, “Not yet.” I explained that one day he could partake if he confessed his sins, repented, and trusted his life to Jesus forever. For right now, however, he needs to watch and pray. This may seem harsh or perhaps difficult to enforce, but I want my son to know that genuine faith and repentance is necessary to enjoy the benefits of Christ’s work. I want him to feel like he is on the outside looking in on the Lord’s Supper until he really is on the inside of all the blessings of Jesus’ work on his behalf.
Paul outlines specific requirements for participants in the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29. Participants should be able to remember the significance of Christ’s sacrifice and understand the purpose of the supper. They should be able to proclaim the truth of the gospel. They should be able to examine themselves and discern that they are in fact repentant Christians. If that doesn’t describe your child yet, then I encourage you to seize the opportunity to teach them by withholding the supper from them.