What Mean Ye by This Service?
Exodus 12:26, 27
And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say to you, What mean you by this service?…

Apply to the Lord's Supper.

I. A QUESTION TO BE PUT BY THE COMMUNICANT TO HIMSELF. Qualification for the Lord's table includes "knowledge to discern the Lord's body," as well as "faith to feed upon him."


1. The children are presumed to be spectators of the ordinance. It is well that children should be present during the administration of the sacraments. It awakens their interest. It leads them to inquire.

2. The ordinance is fitted to attract attention. An external interest attaches to it. It appeals to the senses. The symbolic acts and movements prompt to inquiry.

3. It furnishes an excellent opportunity for imparting instruction. Children will attend to an explanation of the sacraments, who will pay little attention to a book or a sermon. The symbolism of the ordinance aids instruction; makes it vivid and impressive.

III. A QUESTION WHICH THE CHRISTIAN PARENT SHOULD BE ABLE TO ANSWER TO HIS CHILDREN. It is a sad matter when a parent is incapable of sitting down, and instructing his children in the meaning of the sacramental symbol. It betrays something worse than ignorance; not improbably, a total want of spiritual religion.

IV. THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION INVOLVES A STATEMENT OF THE GREATEST VERITIES OF OUR FAITH. The Jew had to answer to his child - "It is the sacrifice, of the Lord's passover," etc. (ver. 27). The Christian has to answer, "It is the memorial of our Lord's death, in atonement for our sins." He has to tell -

1. How we were in guilt and danger.

2. How, for the love wherewith he loved us, Christ gave himself up to the death for our redemption.

3. How, for his sake, we are forgiven and accepted.

4. How the ungodly world has still God's wrath resting upon it. It is wonderful to reflect how simply, yet how perfectly, God has provided for the handing down of a testimony to these great truths in the ordinance of the Lord's Supper. The pulpit may fail to preach the doctrine of atonement; Rationalistic and Unitarian teachers may deny it; but as often as the Lord's Supper is observed, on the model of the New Testament, the truth is anew proclaimed in unmistakable symbols. To give a child a satisfactory explanation of the Lord's Supper, embodying the words of institution, would be almost of necessity, to preach a sermon on the atonement. - J.O.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?

WEB: It will happen, when your children ask you, 'What do you mean by this service?'

The Need of an Intelligent Apprehension of the Service and Worship of God
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