MAIN TEXT: 1 Corinthians 11:23-29
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said,“This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
There are two ordinances in the Christian Church: Communion and Water Baptism. An ordinance is a “prescribed practice.” It is something that has been prescribed and ordered by Jesus Christ and practiced by the Church. An ordinance is something that the Church practices because Jesus Christ has told her to do so. The New Testament makes it very clear that the early Church practiced and observed two ordinances (Acts 2:41-42).
In our text, the apostle Paul is recounting the actual event of the Lord’s Supper, which is recorded in Luke 22:14-20.
Communion is also called “The Lord’s Supper” (1 Corinthians 11:20) as well as “The Table of The Lord” (1 Corinthians 10:21). It’s the partaking of emblems that symbolize the blood and body of Jesus our Lord and Savior. The implications of this act are far greater than we could ever begin to realize. We must, however, understand the basics of this practice.
we share communion to remember (verses 23-25)
When Jesus spoke these words, he was explaining something old. He was explaining the Passover meal. Exodus 12 describes the first Passover meal. This supper included
- a sacrificial Passover lamb
- pure bread (“unleavened bread”)
- wine (though not specified in Ex. 12)
1 Corinthians 5:7 says, For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Jesus instituted new meaning with old tradition. He took the bread and likened it to His body, about to be broken through unjust punishment. He raised the cup likening it to His blood that would be shed.
Remembering the sacrifice of Jesus, and the benefits that His death brings to our lives and world, causes us to be thankful. Communion fuels an already thankful heart.
we share communion to rejoice (verse 26)
The proclamation of Jesus’ death is the message of the church. This message is hope. It’s tied to the message that we celebrate at Easter, “He is Risen!” You cannot proclaim His death without acknowledging that He is alive.
Notice that we proclaim “His death until he comes.” It’s not only looking back, it’s looking forward. He will return again. The reality of Christ’s redemption in us is this: We have been saved. We are being saved. One day we will be saved! The Lord’s Supper assures us that some day, once and for all, God’s redemption and restoration of His creation will be complete!
At communion, we celebrate
- healing, and
- God’s work.
we share communion to repent (verse 27-28)
Sharing communion provides an opportunity to examine ourselves. Often the Holy Spirit shines His piercing light on things in our lives that He wants to fix. This is called conviction. We must work with the Holy Spirit and surrender those areas to God. Confession of your sins and commitment to flee from them should occur before partaking.
It’s our own personal responsibility to make sure that we eat of the communion elements in a worthy manner. Your worthiness does not come from what you have done, but rather from what Jesus has done.
we share communion to reconcile (verse 29)
When we partake of the elements we are acknowledging the body of Christ. In the New Testament, the body of Christ means the whole Church of Jesus. There are two ways in which we eat and drink unworthily:
- We have no sense of the greatness of what we do
- We partake while we are at odds with those for whom Christ also died
We are not to partake of the Lord’s Supper while having hatred, bitterness, contempt, or anger in our hearts towards a brother or sister who are in Christ. Communion is a time where we must reconcile to God and to others. Jesus taught that these two pursuits of forgiveness go hand in hand (Matthew 6:12; 14-15).
The Great Banquet
In Luke 14:16-24, Jesus tells a parable about a great banquet. In the parable, there are strong analogies tied to God’s provision of salvation through His servant Jesus Christ. It depicts a bountiful, generous, and joyous table (we know it to be a picture of life in Christ). The story tells of those who do not come to the banquet because they are preoccupied by self-interests. Lame and insulting excuses were made. Nonetheless, the Master (God) is longing to lavish this banquet on anyone who will come.
Your invitation is on the table. Anyone who wants to come can come. We are the outcasts in the story that were invited. We are the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame and we are invited to party with the Master! The outcasts knew hardships and difficulty.
The master in this story represents God. The servant who is sent out to invite is Jesus. The twist to this story is that everyone who comes into the party becomes a servant. And each servant is commanded by Jesus to go out and invite others to the table.
- There are still empty seats at the table
- There are still place cards in front of the empty seats
- People still need to hear and know
- Many do not know that this table (Jesus Christ) satisfies
We invite others not out of guilt, shame, or obligation, but because we have found something awesome! When you get a true glimpse of how good life with God is, we will want others to experience it too. God says, “Tell them, just like you were told. Invite them just like you were invited.”
Everyone is invited to the Great Banquet!
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: 1 Corinthians 11:23-29
Take a moment to discuss the traditions and customs you had growing up.
How many of those do you still value today?
When we think about an ordinance, what value does an ordinance have in the life of the church?
How does communion connect us with the heart of the Gospel?