The Lord's Supper: What, Who, How, and When?
Text: Matthew 26:26-30; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Topic: The Lord’s Supper: What, Who, How and When?
Pastor Bobby Earls, Northgate Baptist Church, Florence, SC
Sunday morning, January 27, 2013
We are here this morning to observe together our Lord’s Supper or Communion. But first, let’s read what may be the two most familiar passages of Scripture dealing the Lord’s Supper.
Read Matthew 26:26–29 (NKJV)
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. 29 But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
Matthew 26:30 (NKJV) 30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
1 Corinthians 11:23–30 (NKJV)
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.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 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.
There are two great symbols of salvation in the Bible. One is baptism and the other is the Lord's Supper.
It's interesting that Jesus never asked His disciples to remember His birth, but He did instruct them to remember His death and resurrection.
He gave the church two visible symbols called ordinances. We don’t call Baptism and the Lord's Supper, sacraments. We don't call them that because the word sacrament means it saves you.
We don't believe baptism saves you and we don't believe the Lord's Supper saves you. The Bible says they are symbols of your salvation, not things that make you saved. So technically they are not sacraments.
We call them ordinances because they were ordained by God for Christians to remember Jesus' death.
The Lord's Supper is an object lesson that represents a great spiritual truth.
First of all,
I. WHAT IS THE LORD’S SUPPER?
1. It is a simple act. The Bible says that the very first communion, the Lord Jesus, on the night that He was betrayed, took bread and broke it. He didn't have some big elaborate ceremony, or rituals. The Lord's Supper is a very simple act. He took bread and He took wine and He gave it to the people.
2. It is a reminder. "And when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, `This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'" (1 Corinthians 11:24) The whole purpose of the Lord's Supper is for us to remember what Jesus did on the cross.
3. It is a symbol. "In the same way, He took the cup, saying, `This cup is the new covenant in My blood; drink it to remember Me.'"
1 Corinthians 11:25. When Jesus said, This bread is My body and this cup is My blood, He didn't mean that literally. When He said this, He hadn't even gone to the cross yet. He hadn't died yet. Obviously, He's talking about a symbol, not His actual blood.
4. It's a statement of faith. "For whenever you eat the bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes back." When you take of the Lord's Supper, you're preaching a sermon.
There's a forward look and a backward look. We look backward to remember that Jesus died for our sins so that we may be saved, but we also remember He did not stay dead. He rose from the dead on the third day.
That leads us to the forward look. Because Jesus was resurrected and ascended to the Father, He also promised to return one day in like manner.
So as we observe our Lord’s Supper we remember by looking back and we rejoice as we look forward to Christ’s return. So everytime we observe the Lord’s Supper, we make a statement of faith, what we believe about the death, resurrection and the soon and certain return of Jesus Christ.
II. WHO SHOULD TAKE THE LORD’S SUPPER?
Only those who are already believers. When Jesus offered the communion (the Lord's Supper) He didn't offer it to the 5000 where He fed the loaves and fish. He only offered the Lord's Supper to the twelve disciples whom He knew were true believers. He didn't offer the Lord's Supper to the crowds.
It is for believers and not unbelievers. The Bible says, "For anyone who eats or drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment upon himself" So it's not for unbelievers.
III. HOW DO I PREPARE FOR THE LORD’S SUPPER? "Therefore 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. A person ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup."
1 Cor. 11:29-30
Anytime we take the Lord's Supper we should always have a time of prayer and self examination before. We say, "God, is there anything in my life that's between me and You that I need to confess and get rid of before I take communion." The Bible says that we are to examine ourselves every time we take the Lord's Supper.
We do these four things. First self examination -- "God, what is it in my life that needs to be changed." Then we confess our sins. We recommit our lives and we even restore relationships.
The Bible says if you've got something against another person -- you're bitter and angry and resentful -- you shouldn't take the Lord's Supper. In fact, it says you shouldn't even give an offering. It says go get it right with that person first and then come and worship.
IV. WHEN AND HOW OFTEN SHOULD WE OBSERVE THE LORD’S SUPPER?
The Bible doesn't say. The Bible doesn't give a rule about how often. Anytime you hear a rule like, "You ought to take the Lord's Supper every Sunday" it's a man-made rule. It's not in the Bible.
Or, "You ought to take it once a month". It's a man-made rule. It's not in the Bible.
Jesus never said when or how often believers should observe the Lord's Supper. He instituted it on a Thursday night. And since it's a Supper it seems more appropriate to observe it in an evening service.
But from time to time we observe the Lord’s Supper or the Lord’s Table in the morning. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
As a church we determined a long time ago that we will observe our Lord’s Table at least twice each quarter.
We now come to our Lord’s Table to observe the Lord’s Supper.