1 Corinthians 11:17-34
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
Remember and Proclaim
Good morning church! Open your Bibles with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 11. I mentioned last week, don’t worry, we’re not going to recap or review last week…but I did mention last week that as we begin chapter 11, there is a transition in our letter to where Paul begins dealing with issues concerning order in our corporate worship.
One of the things that is far too often over looked in the writings of Paul is the situational context within which they are written. When we get to order in corporate worship, communion, baptism, the gifts of the spirit. Most often these things are taught as if they were a systematic instruction manual, or a how to for corporate worship, and they’re really not. To some degree they are situational, and to a large degree they are more corrective than they are instructive, aimed at fixing particular issues in particular churches. His intent was not to cover everything, but to fix some stuff.
There is an assumption in his writings that the Holy Spirit is alive and well within the church, that’s us collectively, not a building, and that the Holy Spirit will Himself be directing our worship individually and corporately. Much more on that in the weeks to come, but for today, I think it’s best for us to just dive in where we left off. Verse 17 and remember that Paul began the chapter by praising them for some things…verse 17...
17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.
20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
Notice the first thing that Jesus does…and remember it is the night before He is going to be crucified, and He thanks the Lord for the simple meal He has of bread and wine. Most of us might not bother to thank God for that, or if that was all that we had, with our sense of entitlement, we might have complained. Second, they were partaking in the passover meal, and it was a celebration. I think we loose sight of that today. The Jewish people were in captivity in Egypt, Pharaoh was refusing to let the people of the Lord go, and God sent plague after plague, and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. The night of the very first passover, that the Jews still celebrate today, was the night of the 10th plague that God sent.
On that night, God instructed the Israelites to sacrifice a perfect lamb without spot or blemish. And then to take the blood from that sacrifice and put it on the outside of their door posts and lintels. Now you can read about his in Exodus chapter 12, but at midnight, the Lord passed through and all of the firstborn of each family, including their livestock, were killed. Except for all of the homes that obeyed the Lord, their firstborns were spared, quite literally, saved by the blood of the lamb. So the passover feast is not a somber occasion, there is laughing and rejoicing and this is the meal they were sharing with one another when Jesus changed things forever. Communion isn’t supposed to be a horribly somber occasion where all we can think about is the pain and suffering that Jesus endured and how that it’s all my fault. We should focus on why He did it! How great His love is for us.
During the passover meal there are several glasses of wine that they drink, four of them, and all of them represent different things. When Jesus came to the cup of Redemption, that is the one that He renamed as the new covenant in His blood. I don’t know what the Apostle’s reaction would have been, if they fully understood what He was talking about, if so, there would have been great rejoicing. This new covenant had been prophesied about in several places in the Old Testament. As the men gathered for our Bible study yesterday, we talked about the Prophet Jeremiah so I chose the prophecy from Jeremiah 31....
31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.
See that was the relationship the Jews had with God in the Old Testament…it was one of covenant. It started with God making a covenant with Abraham, and in that... He promised Abraham a land, a nation, and a blessing that was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus.
There was a covenant made with Moses and the people were given the law, and it was a relationship of blessings and cursings…..a covenant was made with David and through that covenant the Messiah, Jesus was promised....in verse 33 we read...
33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
So this New Covenant that Jesus says comes through His blood changes everything! Under the new covenant Israel would regather and become a nation again, they and we can be cleansed of our sins, that couldn’t done under the old covenant. You guys know that’s what all the animal sacrifices were all about, Right? Sin could be covered, but not cleansed. It’s like taking piles and piles of debt and rolling it all into a home equity loan. It’s covered temporarily, but has the debt gone away? No way! Under the new covenant, Jesus paid it all off, the debt is gone. The new covenant promises that the Messiah will someday rule and reign. The new covenant changes everything and it should.
It breaks my heart when I see people today, New Covenant Christians, those that are born again, they love Jesus, but live in relation to God like they are under the old covenant. God blesses me when I’m good, do my good deeds, pay my tithes, visit my grandmother. But if I mess up... He gets me, He curses me. It breaks my heart to see Christians that don’t get that communion is a celebration that it’s no longer about what I do or don’t do, it’s about Jesus and what He already did!
So again, Jesus says this cup is the new covenant and I’m writing it in My blood, lets look at vs. 25 again...
25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
You know that word translated here proclaim is the same word that is translated the majority of the time, 10 different times in the New Testament a preach or preached. We we share in communion together we are preaching what was accomplished in His death and because of His resurrection, we are preaching that He is coming again…don’t miss the till He comes on the end there. We share communion in anticipation that He is coming back for us.
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
A couple things on this…Paul is encouraging them to partake of communion with a heart of reverence, sobriety, and sincerity. But the intent is not to shame you away from the communion table. Some of our translations have caused difficulty here over the years. For example, vs. 29 in the KJV reads like this...
29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
Probably all of us that have been in church for awhile have heard that and we’ve thought to ourselves I’m not worthy to do this, should I do it? No, I better not, I’m just going to let it pass by me. Do you know what I came across during my preparation for this study?
Communion tokens! - The idea of communion tokens was first conceived by John Calvin in 1560 as a way to know who was a member of the church (permitted to participate in communion) and who was not. They were used largely in Scotland with some pastors examining participants prior to as an assurance that only Christians would partake and others with much stricter requirement where they would judge if you were worthy and if you didn’t have a coin, you couldn’t receive Holy Communion. Talk about not feeling worthy!
Or when we get to verse 31...
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
Who are we supposed to judge church!?! Ourselves! The Corinthians failed to examine themselves because they had become busybodies examining everybody else. Some of us have struggled with this too though I don’t mean judging others I mean, how do we do this? Even when we are trying to be sincere...We just close our eyes, or maybe look down at the floor and try to get really, really serious and somber as we begin to judge ourselves, again not worthy…but judge ourselves in regard to what? Am I worthy? No I’m not. But that’s what communion was all about right? I’m not worthy, so by His blood, Jesus instituted a New Covenant where I am no longer judged by what I’ve done but by what He did for me....don’t forget the corrective context that this was written in, again, it’s not all instructive…look again at verse 29...
29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
What were these guys doing? Eating and drinking in an unworthy manner right!?! They were gathering for this agape supper and they weren’t caring about each other, they weren’t loving each other. You guys have all been to a fellowship supper where it doesn’t quite look like there’s going to be enough for everyone to go around right? And to that I want to say God bless you guys that have noticed, you who take notice out of concern for others....because sometimes there are folks that notice there might not be enough so they are first in line, so they won’t miss out....I know some of you are thinking finally Pastor you’re addressing some real issues! You’ve been the one that’s in the back of the line, trying to make sure others get fed first and you see the guy up front with his plate bending over on the sides it’s so full, bread stick in his shirt pocket because there’s no room on the pile, you know what I’m talking about. That’s the context we are dealing with.
That and it sounds like instead of sharing, the wealthier families where bringing tons of food and wine and stuffing themselves with both, while the poor who had little or none to bring, were going without. And Paul is saying you guys can’t call that communion when you have no regard for anyone but you. I won’t get into it this morning, but am happy to talk to any of you more about it, but the end of that verse is what the Catholic church uses to defend their doctrine of transubstantiation, or the idea that the cracker and the grape juice become the actual blood and flesh or body of Jesus when we do this.
It is just as easy – and just as valid concerning the original language here – to see the Lord’s body as a reference to the church family, and that fits our context a little better. They were being selfish in the church in Corinth, they weren’t respecting one another, there was divisions and a lack of love for the church family. Communion is supposed to be a time to gather as a family and remember his death and resurrection, what that means for us and to proclaim or preach that He is coming again. That unites us together as family with the guys that were with Jesus the night before He was crucified, with the Christians that have come before us and for those that will come after should the Lord tarry. 31 again...
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
Chastening is not the condemnation of a judge, it is the loving correction of a Father, the Lord chastens so that we won’t be condemned with the world.
33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.
I love the end of this. It’s almost like Paul has had enough. Look you guys are a mess, I’m not going to deal with it all here and have everyone read about it until Jesus comes back, I’ll just fix it when I get there....I want to have the guys come forward so that we can partake together…communion is for us all. The intent is that those that understand what it is, and want to proclaim ,or preach, that I’m a sinner and Jesus died for me should take it. We don’t have tokens here, and neither did Jesus. Remember, this all started with “the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread” do you guys know who was there when He served this meal? Judas!… Jesus didn’t say hold on fella’s he’ll be gone in a few, we’ll just wait for him to go do his thing.
Were to examine our behavior, and how we’re treating each other here. If you need to get things right with God, Jim’s going to be leading us in a song as the elements are being disbursed. If you need to get right, get right. Ask the Lord to forgive you and eat and drink with us. Hold your elements until Jim is done and I’ll lead us in sharing it all together...
26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Grace and Peace church!