The Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper
Over the years it has been my intention to focus on the original observance of the Lord’s Supper. Too often we get caught up in minutia that is not important and it draws our mind way from the real importance of what we are observing.
I have heard folks get stirred up and upset over so many things. Most do not matter. Anything that takes your focus off the meaning of the Lords Supper, Understanding why we do it simply does not matter. Honestly arguing over the arrangement of the table, whether or not our depictions of the first one are correct doesn’t matter. Discussions on whether they had wine or grape juice doesnt matter. Where the upper room was doesnt matter. What matters is it happened and Jesus told us to remember this until he comes.
I usually use the passage that Paul gave us in 1st Corinthians as we begin to share. I usually just stop at verse 26 because there are those who get too absorbed in this idea of being unworthy. But this morning I want to delve into what Paul wrote, and why Paul wrote it.
There is a push in pastoral education that causes some people some real grief. A push towards contextualization of the scripture. The real purpose of contextualization is to look at the context of the scripture. The real purpose of this is to look at the historical, cultural, and literary context of a passage. When you do this then you can take something from the first century and understand how that first century event applies to today.
For some this means that you twist a passage and make it fit into their agenda.
For most it means a search for meaning.
Let me give you an easy example. In
26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.
At first glance Jesus tell you you must hate your family. But if you take the time to study, you find out that is an idiom. Websters says “an idiom a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words”
A modern example is it is raining cat’s and dog’s.If you do not understand the history there are phrases you won’t get.
Cultural context is also important. When you read about the church in Corinth, if you might believe those who tell you at the time of Paul Corinth was this horrible sin city. Yet if you do the research you will find that Corinth was literally leveled long before.In Pauls time the Romans had rebuilt it and while corruption was creeping it’s way back into the city it was not as horrible as some have said.
I am saying all of this as we being to look at the Lord’s Supper this morning because We are going to look carefully at what Paul wrote and why this morning. Wit that take your bibles and turn with me to
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night 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, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world. 33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment. And when I come I will give further directions.
Why was Paul writing this?
Days when they celebrated the Lords Supper, were marked by a feast together. They would gather together with the idea of sharing a meal together. Yet some would come early and bring a lot. Some would go just to eat and gorge themselves. They did not plan to share. They would in essence come and show who was the most important. Look how much I brought. Look how I waited for the poor people. I am so special. Some go hungry and some get drunk. Paul is scolding them not just hear but back in chapter 10. In the first part of chapter ten Paul writes about the Israelites and Moses. God was taking care of them, but even as he was the were not serving him. Even as God was with them as a pillar of fire and cloud, they still practiced idolatry. These folks you would think be examples for us to follow God clearly, to obey what Christ has told us. But we still do stupid stuff.
We get mad at someone who doesn't dress like we do. I remember the movie Kevin Can Wait in college. It was about a guy called into ministry. But he wasn’t sure what. So he asked God for help. So God sends him an angel to help him see. When the angel is around he is always kind. When Sunday came he was always dressed in the best, coat an tie. He greeted everyone. In comes Kevin. He worked a gas station so he came from work. Still in work clothes so he could make it to church. The angel told him he needed to get to know Kevin. As long as the angel was around he did. But no angel no kevin. Then the angel told him I will be gone for a bit. I will see you in a while. Keveon called him and needed help. Jim didnt have the time. The angel called and he dropped everything. So the angel tested him as different people. Kevin in the meantime had his appendix burst and went to the hospital because Jim was so consumed ith himself.
It is the very thin Paul writes about here
Pay attention. When Paul writes
13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
it is right after he warns if you think you standing be careful. Basically he says don’t be overconfident thinking you will never fall, and do not just decide what is the use I am going to sin lets get it over with and move on.
He tells us to think of one another in
24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
That same sentiment is all through Pauls writing Romans 15:1-2; 1 Corinthians 9:19-33; 10:33; 13:5; 2 Corinthians 12:14, Philippians 2:4, 5, 21
This whole concept of putting others first is not new. It shouldn’t be a new experience for a believer. The idea that we are to love and support one another is clearly established in Acts so why then is it still a problem here.
Quite simply because mankind is involved. Sadly our natural instinct is to look out for number one. One phrase and action you never have to teach a child is mine. You have to teach them to share. We have to learn, it is not all about me.
There are time as a pastor that it seems like no one is listening to you. There are times you feel like why am I even here. John Calvin would get frustrated that he could clearly preach the Gospel and some would come and others would not do a thing.
Jeff Iorg wrote a book called the painful side of leadership. He talks about those times when the sheep, the church you are trying to shepherd just doesn’t listen. He doesn’t say in the book if it happens, he says when. This last month a pastor - well loved by his church in California committed suicide. We do not really know the complete whys. Men leave the ministry every day because they feel like they are preaching to people who do not want to change and grow.
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
is a mantra of sorts. Remembering and focusing on all you do is for the glory of God. All we do not just as pastors but a church needs to reflect that.
Paul wants to make it as clear as possible- if you come for the Lords Supper- it needs to be about God.
In verse 27 he gives some warnings.
27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.
Lets look at what this means.
First of all the only reason we are worthy is because of Jesus. But what Paul is talking about here is if you come to the Lord’s Supper for any reason other than to worship Christ you are unworthy. Examine yourself. Look at who you are
where is your heart.
In all of this we have to consider that this was not a Lord’s Supper like we do today. It was a meal and at the end of the meal they would do just like the first one and observe the elements. Making sure they were considering the importance of each.
When he says when you come together to eat wait for one another. We go right back to consider others more important. Focus on why you are here.
In Galatians 6 when Paul writes about bearing one anothers burdens, he is trying to let us remember the importance of loving others.
We share the table in communion - the intimate baring of ourselves before God and in the presence of others. Not for show of any type but for the joy of the Gospel, the hope of the return of Jesus and glory of His kingdome.