Faithlife Sermons

The Lord's Supper - A Call to Communion

Kevin Harris
Ordinances of the Church  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  45:10
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This is an overview of the purpose of the Lord's Supper and the expectations of those partaking.

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Introduction

We find the Lord’s Supper recorded in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22. All of the Gospel accounts are quite similar, but we find the Lord’s Supper applied and taught to the church by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:23–34. This is the passage that we just read together in the responsive reading and will be our text for today...
Today we’ll be focusing on the concept of ...
κοινωνια - Communion
1 Corinthians 10:16-17

16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bbread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?

17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.

The word “sharing” here in verse 16 is koinonia in the Greek:
Blood
κοινωνια του αἱματος του Χριστου
koinōnia tou haimatos tou Christou
a sharing in the blood of Christ
Body
κοινωνία τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ
koinōnia tou somatos tou Christou
a sharing of the body of Christ
Translated
NASB: Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?
KJV: The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
We have taken the word “communion” and twisted (diluted) its meaning somewhat. We most often use the word to designate the taking of the elements of the Lord’s Supper. At times we nounify the word to indicate the elements themselves or we objectify the word to indicate an event.
Communion - the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level
Paul is giving us a picture of a loaf of bread (one large loaf) broken into smaller pieces. This is a word picture that he uses to describe the body of Christ - that is to say the body of believers… (all of us).
The word koinonia is also translated into “fellowship” in English.
This is another word that we have twisted slightly in modern times. We use the word “fellowship” to describe something that we do together… and it usually involves eating… as in our Wednesday night fellowship.
Again we have objectified the word fellowship by using it to describe an event.
But the word “fellowship” actually means something different than just a gathering for the purpose of sharing a meal:
Fellowship - friendly association, especially with people who share one's interests.
Again we see this word “sharing”...
Share - have a portion of (something) with another or others.
give a portion of (something) to another or others.
use, occupy, or enjoy (something) jointly with another or others.
possess (a view or quality) in common with others.
take a part in (something)
tell someone about (something), especially something personal.
post or repost (something) on a social media website or application
Koinonia actually means all of these things at the same time:
Koinonia
Communion
Fellowship
Sharing
Paul’s point is that koinonia IS the church. THIS is what we are to be about.
We share a common interest
We form a community by gathering together
We share a common set of interests
We share our thoughts and feelings with each other on an intimate level
We are willing to guide, exhort, correct, and rebuke each other
THIS is the church!
I saw this happen on Friday night as the Union Baronil met to share a meal and discuss scripture and talk about life experiences. These men were all passionate about the word of God and how to apply it to their lives. Each one had their part to say about the word of God as they shared a box of chicken and biscuits together.
THIS is the church!

I. The Lord’s Supper is a Time to Look Back (vv 23b-24)

One important reason for the Lord’s Supper is that we recall the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for our sins. He asks that we take the Supper “in remembrance” of that sacrifice. And he uses the elements of a simple dinner to provide symbols of that sacrifice.
1 Corinthians 11:23b-25

the Lord Jesus in the night in which 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 He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

Jesus is gathered with his disciples for the Passover Supper. And, as usual, He is taking the opportunity to teach His disciples a lesson that will stick with them beyond His time with them.
A. Jesus Interpreted something old: Passover
Passover is an annual event celebrated by Jews during Jesus’ time, and is still practiced today in the form of a Seder Dinner. While traditions differ slightly the meal is highly symbolic and intended to remind Jews of their heritage and of their plight when God led them out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land.
The traditional refrain of the Passover Meal is “next year in Jerusalem” since for many centuries the Jews celebrated Passover without physically occupying the Promised Land.
Jesus was actually giving his disciples a new interpretation of the old Passover Supper. He was instilling this new meal with a tradition that would remind His followers of the sacrifice that He was about to undertake on the cross.
B. Jesus Interpreted something new: Communion
Jesus used the bread and the cup that were there at the table to prepare the disciples for what He was about to go through and instill a meaning from it that they should remember going forward.
In doing this, Jesus was establishing an intimate bond with his disciples. He was using the importance and heritage of the memorial meal, the Passover Supper, to establish a new memorial meal that would be used to remind his followers of the severity of His sacrifice and it’s purpose for us today.
Jesus used the bread and the cup as an image that the disciples would later recall to point toward His death. In fact He was establishing a covenant with us.
Let us pause for a moment and remember the death of our Savior.

II. The Lord’s Supper is a time to Look Forward (v 25-26)

The Lord’s Supper is not just about looking back. It is about looking forward to the return of Christ. This is a time of celebration and anticipation as we look forward to Jesus’ return to us.
In the same way He took the cup also 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.
- 1 Corinthians 11:25-26 (NASB95)
While the Passover Meal was punctuated with the words “next year in Jerusalem” we are a people who celebrate the Lord’s Supper in anticipation of the Lord’s Return. We could literally think “next year with our Lord” as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper in anticipation of the day we can take communion with the Lord Himself at the head of the table.
Let us take a moment for private rejoicing and thanksgiving to God.

III. The Lord's Supper is a time to Look Within (v 27-28)

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
- 1 Corinthians 11:27–28 (NASB95)
Paul teaches us that there is a right way and a wrong way to take the Lord’s Supper. He reminds us that it provides an opportunity for self-examination, that gives the Holy Spirit an opportunity to reveal to us if we are coming to the Lord’s Table in an unworthy manner.
Clearly Paul and the Early Church considered taking the cup in an unworthy manner to be something to avoid.
This is an opportunity to repent and step into the forgiveness of the Lord. This repentance brings a cleansing that allows us to partake in the Lord’s Table with a sincerity that we could never experience without forgiveness.
Paul clearly states that this examination is to be undertaken individually rather than corporately.
I would encourage you not to come to the Table this morning without taking time to confess any sin to God and seeking His forgiveness.
Let us take a few moments to reflect and repent of any carelessness on our part that has led to sin in our lives.
Ask yourself some questions:
Am I walking closely connected to God?
Is God the Lord of my life? Am I submitted to His leadership?
Am I surrendered to God or do I hold something back for myself?
Have I offended anyone?
Do I need to repent of any sin? any harsh words?
Am I violating God’s word or defying His wishes?
Am I guilty of breaking the peace with my neighbor, my friends, family, colleagues, or other relation?
Is there any hidden sin in my life that I have not reconciled before God?

IV. The Lord’s Supper is a Time to Look Around (vv 33-34)

So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come.
- 1 Corinthians 11:33-34 (NASB95)
This passage is one of exhortation (after all this is a letter of the Apostle Paul).
There was trouble in the Corinthian church stemming from an issue they were having with their “Agape Feasts.” We won’t go into all of the issues with these feasts today, as that is not the focus of today’s message. But it should be understood that these feasts were a part of the worship experience in Corinth. However there was some spiritual abuse going on that was harming certain saints and harming the church as well. This came down to cliques and preferential treatment as well as exclusion of certain people.
This behavior (along with others) created an environment that was not conducive to true koinonia among the saints at Corinth. It also affected the saints who came to the Lord’s Table by keeping them from being properly prepared.
They were coming to the Lord’s Table in an unworthy manner. The very thing that we are attempting to avoid today.
Criticism
Sin
Lack of confession
Careless attitudes toward the Communion experience itself
Mistreatment of other believers
Selfish attitudes
The Lord’s Supper is a family meal.
Part of the family experience is that Jesus desires that we love each other and care for one another.
This is the purpose of koinonia-communion among the saints.
Not a dysfunctional family!
I told you a couple of weeks ago that you cannot connect with God without prayer.
TRUTH You cannot be close to the Father or his Son if you are separated from your brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Lord’s Supper is not only a reminder of the sacrifice that Christ made on the Cross, but it is a demonstration of the unity of the church, the body of Christ, before the World.
Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.
- 1 Corinthians 10:17
The church at Corinth had no unity. If we partake in the Supper without unity, then we shame ourselves before Jesus and become a mockery of the World.
There are a few people who should not partake in the Lord’s Supper:
one who is not a true believer
one whose heart is not right before God and with his fellow Christians
Is there someone that you need to ask to forgive you?
In Restoring Your Spiritual Passion, Gordon McDonald writes:
One memory that burns deep within is that of a plane flight on which I was headed toward a meeting that would determine a major decision in my ministry. I knew I was in desperate need of a spiritual passion that would provide wisdom and submission to God’s purposes. But the passion was missing because I was steeped in resentment toward a colleague.
For days I had tried everything to rid myself of vindictive thoughts toward that person. But try as I might, I would even wake in the night, thinking of ways to subtly get back at him. I wanted to embarrass him for what he had done, to damage his credibility before his peers. My resentment was beginning to dominate me and on that plane trip I came to a realization of how bad things really were. . .
As the plane entered the landing pattern, I found myself crying silently to God for power both to forgive and to experience liberation from my poisoned spirit. Suddenly it was as if an invisible knife cut a hole in my chest, and I literally felt a thick substance oozing from within. Moments later I felt as if I’d been flushed our. I’d lost negative spiritual weight, the kind I needed to lose. I was free. I fairly bounded off that plane and soon entered a meeting that did in fact change the entire direction of my life.
TRUTH Spiritual passion cannot coexist with resentments.
The Scriptures are clear. An unforgiving spirit disrupts your Christian growth and effectiveness for Christ’s purposes.
Let’s spend a moment in reflection about our relationships with others.
Do you hold any resentment or unforgiveness against anybody in your life?
Invitation
We have had several moments of reflection during this message this morning. We are going to enter into a time where you have an opportunity to do something about it.
I mentioned a few kinds of people today:
Have never accepted Christ as your Lord
Not a true believer
Believer who has issues with God
Believer who has issues with another believer
I would invite you to take some time to deal with any of these issues today.
If you need Christ and you would like to receive Christ as your Lord, I would invite you to come to the altar today so that I can help you through that process.
If you are a believer who has issues with God and you need to make that right, I invite you to come to the altar and kneel here as you do business with God. You may also do that business with God right there at your seat.
If you are a believer who has issues with another believer here in this room, then I would invite you to take care of that right away.
Perhaps you have unforgiveness regarding something that has been done to you. You may need to deal with that privately or go to that believer and discuss that with them directly.
Or maybe you can deal with those issues by going directly to God.
Perhaps you have been offensive to another believer and the Spirit is prompting you to seek the forgiveness of another believer. Please consider taking that step right now.
My prayer is that you will take this opportunity to make things right this morning before you participate in taking the elements.
If you cannot address any of these issues right now, then I would ask that you consider passing the elements without participating this morning.
Let’s pause during this time of reflection and you feel free to take any action that is needed.
[quiet piano]
[invite the deacons forward]
the Lord Jesus in the night in which 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.
- 1 Corinthians 11:23b-24 (NASB95)
[bless the bread and distribute it]
This is the body of our Lord, Jesus Christ, take it and eat in remembrance of His body broken for for us.
[eat & pause]
In the same way He took the cup also 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.
- 1 Corinthians 11:25-26 (NASB95)
[bless the bread and distribute it]
This is the blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Take it and drink in remembrance of His blood poured out for us.
[drink and pause]
For by eating this bread and drinking this cup, we join together in proclaiming the Lord’s life, death, and resurrection until His return to us.
If the Holy Spirit has pinpointed anything in your life that needs your attention, I encourage you to deal with that issue appropriately and to be in good standing before God and before others.
Benediction/Doxology
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