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10-22-2017 Supper Time 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

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Within the realm of Christendom the Lord’s Supper has been seen as one of the most intimate ways to worship our Lord. This practice of observing the Lord’s Supper started within the early church it has been known by several names throughout early Christendom and is recognized as a “sacrament.” But before I get into the names of the Lord’s Supper I need to quickly deal with this “sacrament” word. In the most general sense, a sacrament is defined as a visible symbol of the reality of God. Augustine of Hippo defined it as an outward sign of an inward grace that has been instituted by Jesus Christ. so what’s the problem? the problem is how the Catholics have taken the meaning of this word one step further—a heretical step—defining it as a means by which God imparts His grace. This problem is what prompted the Protestant Community to come up with a different term to put a clear separation of meaning between the Roman Catholic idea of a sacrament and the original meaning of more of an observance. Therefore, it is common in evangelicalism to find the term “ordinance” to refer to both baptism and the Lord’s Supper. However, I appreciate RC Sproul’s definition of a sacrament: “a dramatic sign that points beyond itself to some truth of redemption that is crucial to the life of the people of God.”
Terms for the Lord’s Supper in the NT
the early church used to come together and celebrate what they called an “agape feast” or a “love feast” in which they celebrated the love of God and the love that they enjoyed with one another as Christians in this holy supper. In Acts 2:42 “breaking of bread” could mean both eating together and also celebrating the Lord’s Supper; 1 Co 10:16 The Greek word “koinonia”, here translated “participation”, is traditionally translated “communion”: hence the term “Holy Communion”; 1 Co 11:20 the Lord’s Supper; The sacrament was called the Lord’s Supper because it made reference to the last supper that Jesus had with His disciples in the Upper Room on the night before His death. In the 2nd century church and later, the Lord’s Supper was referred to as the “Eucharist,” taking its definition from the Greek verb eucharisto, which is the Greek verb that means “to thank.” This is because one undeniable element of the Lord’s Supper has been that the people of God express their gratitude for what Christ accomplished in their behalf in His death.

I. An Institutional Supper

The Christ—the Messiah Himself, institution of the Lord’s Supper
1 Corinthians 11:23–25 ESV
23 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, 24 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.” 25 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.”
It is Jesus who commanded us to actively participate in this supper, but it is not just any supper.

II. A Methodical Supper

This meal is to have a particular order about it but first we noticed that it is:

As part of an ordinary meal

The church was not necessarily wrong to include the sacrament in an ordinary meal as we see here in 1 Corinthians; however, this otherwise ordinary meal should have been conducted in a loving way.
1 Corinthians 11:21 ESV
21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.
Paul is chiding the church in Corinth here, but notice it is not because it is during a meal rather it is their conduct during this meal that he rebukes.

On the Lord’s Day

Acts 20:7 ESV
7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.
See also Jn 20:26

The fourfold formula for breaking bread: taking, giving thanks, breaking, giving

Matthew 26:26 ESV
26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”
See also Lk 24:30; Jn 6:11; 1 Co 11:24

The sharing of the cup

1 Corinthians 11:25 ESV
25 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.”
The Lord’s Supper is a drama that has its roots not only in that Upper Room experience, but the roots reach back into the Old Testament celebration of Passover. In fact, you will recall that before Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper in the Upper Room, He had given requirements to His disciples that they would secure a room for the purpose of their meeting together on this occasion because He was just a day away from the cross. He knew that His trial, death, resurrection, and return to the Father were imminent, so He said to His disciples, “I deeply desire to celebrate the Passover with you one last time.”

III. A Thematic Supper

The Passover

I don’t think you could properly understand the brevity of communion without understanding the connection to the Passover.
The immediate context in which Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper was the celebration of the Passover feast with His disciples. The link to Passover is seen not only in His words to the disciples but also in similar language used by the Apostle Paul when he wrote to the Corinthian church. He wrote, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7). It’s clear that the Apostolic community saw a link between the death of Christ and the Old Testament Passover celebration.
1 Corinthians 5:7–8 ESV
7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
What exactly is the Passover? Well you might recall that the celebration of the Passover Feast points all the way back to the time of Moses’ interactions with the pharaoh. God had Moses called plagues down on Egypt in order to show the impotence of pharaoh and of the Egyptian gods. Also, after a few plagues, Pharaoh starts saying that it’s okay for the Israelites to go but yet change his mind moments later— like, “okay, you can go—oops just kidding!” If you look close enough at this account in Exodus, you would read there that it was YHWH that kept hardening his heart and having him change his mind. Why? this could be in order to show the Israelites without any doubt that their salvation from slavery was from YHWH and not from the decision of pharaoh. However, the last plague was the worst and the most significant physically as well as theologically. Let’s look at this last plague together because it is very significant in our celebration of communion.
Exodus 11:1–9 ESV
1 The Lord said to Moses, “Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely. 2 Speak now in the hearing of the people, that they ask, every man of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, for silver and gold jewelry.” 3 And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people. 4 So Moses said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, 5 and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. 6 There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. 7 But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’ 8 And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, you and all the people who follow you.’ And after that I will go out.” And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger. 9 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.”
The Passover celebration is a remeberance of what YHWH did and was willing to do for the sake of free His chosen nation. In fact, it was first YHWH’s idea to make it into a feast! Look at chapter 12:1 in Exodus:
Exodus 12:1–13 ESV
1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. 7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
R. C. Sproul
The sign character of this ritual was really a sign of deliverance. It was a sign of redemption because it meant that these people would escape the wrath of God.
Ultimate calamity is exposure to the wrath of God. Christ saves His people from the wrath of the Father. Not only are we saved by God, but we are saved from God, and that idea is dramatically displayed in the Passover as recorded in the book of Exodus. The sign on the doorpost, the sign marked by the blood of the lamb meant that the Israelites would be rescued from calamitous exposure to the wrath of God.

The New Covenant

1 Co 11:25
1 Corinthians 11:25 ESV
25 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.”
This reference to a new covenant is a personal relationship with God and sins forgiven. When Jesus had His last meal in the upper room with His disciples, it became the final Passover. He added a new meaning to the Passover celebration as He took the unleavened bread, attaching a new significance to it when He said, “This is My body which is broken for you.” Then, after the supper had been completed, He took the wine and he said, in effect, “I’m attaching a new significance to this element as you celebrate the Passover because this wine is my blood. Not the blood of the lamb in the Old Testament whose blood was marked on the doorpost, but now this cup is my blood.” In essence, Jesus was saying, “I am the Passover; I am the Lamb; I am the one who will be sacrificed for you. It is by My blood being marked over the door of your life that you will escape the wrath of God.” This is why Jesus says: “From now on, this is My blood, which is shed for you for the remission of your sins. This is the blood of a new covenant.” This new covenant that He instituted that very meal fulfills the old covenant.


When we partake, we are to recall the past.
1 Corinthians 11:24 ESV
24 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.”
Repetition is the mother of all learning and no doubt Jesus knows this very well. In the Old Testament, altars were built at certain places where the Lord’s work abounded. Festivals, feasts, and holidays/holy days were all to remind the Israelites and to remind us of the work God has done.
Jesus also understood the traditional Jewish link between apostasy and forgetting. Linguistically, that link is found in the very word apostate, which means “a letting go of or forgetting.” An apostate is somebody who has forgotten what he once was committed to (i.e. the faith). We remember Psalm 103, where David cries,
Psalm 103:2 ESV
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
Jesus died two thousand years ago, and not one second passes on the clock that there aren’t people somewhere in this world sitting down, breaking bread, drinking wine, and remembering Christ’s death until He comes.

Thanksgiving, fellowship and unity

1 Corinthians 10:16 ESV
16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
See also Mt 26:26–27; 1 Co 11:20–21

IV. A Blessed Meal

The Lord’s return

Knowing this future promise that runs throughout the teaching of the New Testament, we see references to it in the Lord’s Supper.
1 Corinthians 11:26 ESV
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

A foretaste of heaven

Jesus calls attention to the future time when He will sit down with His people and celebrate at the feast of the kingdom of God in heaven. There still remains a wonderful, grandulose celebration. Every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper in this world, we shouldn’t only look back to Christ’s past accomplishments, but to the future feast that is yet to be fulfilled.
Luke 22:28–30 ESV
“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Here Jesus focused on the future orientation of the consummation of His kingdom. He is the Anointed One whom the Father has declared to be the King of kings and Lord of lords. He mentioned that His Father has bestowed upon Him a kingdom, and in like manner He now bestows upon His disciples the kingdom of God and promises that there will be a time in the future when He will sit with them at His table. Implied in this statement from Jesus is the anticipated promise of the marriage feast of the Lamb, the great ceremony of Christ and His bride, which will take place in heaven (Rev. 19:6–10)
There is still more of the kingdom of God for us to experience. We have experienced the inauguration of the kingdom in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, but we still await the final, future consummation of the kingdom. So when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we see that it’s not just a sign of what has already happened, but it’s also a sign and seal of what will happen in the future.
In the Old Testament, God’s people Israel celebrated the Passover once a year. This Passover looked forward to a future fulfillment, when the Pascal Lamb was sacrificed on Calvary. Today, every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we look into the future as well, to the promise of the wedding feast of Christ and His bride. In this way, the Lord’s Supper is a foretaste of heaven. One day we will see the Bridegroom in all of His glory, and we will see the church offered to Him in its perfection. That’s the future orientation of the Lord’s Supper.

Separation from sin

Consider Paul’s admonition to the church in Corinth:
1 Corinthians 10:14–22 ESV
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
Paul is referring to feasts in heathen temples. Here Paul gives some strong warnings concerning the mixing of the Lord’s Supper with idolatrous practices. Apparently, some of the Christians of Corinth participated in the Christian services as well as pagan feasts and festivals. This provoked Paul to address questions about eating meat that was offered to idols. Oftentimes after these pagan services were over, the meat they used for sacrifice was sold in the marketplace. Some Christians had a wrong view of this, saying, “I’m not going to have anything to do with any meat that participated in any way in a pagan ceremony.” They believed that it was sinful to eat meat that had been offered to idols. Paul addressed by saying that there’s nothing inherently sinful about the meat. How it was used before it went on sale in the marketplace shouldn’t cause any great concern for the Christians (1 Cor. 8).
so what happens when we try to drink of the Lord’s table and the table of demons? Well, we have...

V. A Cursed Meal

When a person participates in the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner, instead of drinking a cup of blessing, they are drink a cup of cursing. They are eating and drinking unto damnation, and God will not be mocked. If people celebrate this most sacred of activities in the church and they do it in an inappropriate way, they expose themselves to the judgment of God.
The agape feast, which was celebrated along with the Lord’s Supper in the early church and that which was to show Christ’s death and the repetition of the Passover, became an occasion for unhindered gluttony and selfishness in the Corinthian assembly of believers. People were literally pushing each other out of the way to get to the table to gorge themselves with food while others were left hungry. In effect, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper was to no effect. So, Paul had to rebuke them about two problems: mixing idolatry with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper and the horrid neglect of the sanctity of the meal by turning it into a church picnic full of gluttony. It’s in this context that Paul gives serious warnings about the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
Because of this teaching, one of the strong principles that came out of the Protestant Reformation in reference to the Lord’s Supper is what some theologians refer to as “the fencing of the table.” In some churches, before the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, a pastor warns congregants who are not members in good standing of a conservative church that they should not participate in this ordinance. He will remind the congregation that the Lord’s Supper is only for Christian people who are truly repentant. There are even some churches that won’t allow you to participate in the Lord’s Supper unless you are a member of that particular congregation. If you’re a visitor in those churches you’re discouraged from participating even if you are a Christian. however Grace Baptist has always only required that you profess faith in Christ and that you are in right standing with God and with others before partaking
The purpose of “fencing the table” is not to exclude people arbitrarily but rather to protect people from the curse that the Apostle Paul talks about, where in 1 Corinthians 11:30 he speaks of “eating and drinking unworthily.”
Oscar Cullman, the Swiss theologian, said that the most neglected verse in the whole New Testament is 1 Corinthians 11:30:
1 Corinthians 11:30 ESV
30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.
Some scholars believe that the meaning of 1 John 5:16–17
1 John 5:16–17 ESV
16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.
is that God will not send Christians to hell who misused and abused the Lord’s Supper, but He might take their lives.
The point that Paul makes here is that the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper is a sacrament that involves and requires a certain discernment. We are to discern what we are doing. We are to come with a proper attitude of humility and repentance. The point is not to exclude people from the table. Nobody is worthy, in the ultimate sense, to come and commune with Christ. We, who are unworthy in and of ourselves, come to commune with Christ because of our need. But we are to come in a spirit of dependence, not arrogantly, confessing our sins and trusting in Him alone for salvation. If we handle these sacred things in a hypocritical manner God will not hold us guiltless.
In participating in the Lord’s Supper, we meet personally with the living Christ, receive the benefits of communing intimately with our Creator, and yet at the same time we must keep ourselves from any form of behavior or disorder of this sacrament/ this ordinance that would cause the righteous judgement of God to fall upon us.
So What?
So let’s partake now in Communion together!
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