1 Corinthians 11:17-29
The Lord’s Supper: a repeated ordinance tied to the community of believers’ continuance in the faith
Morning everybody. Thank you, Mike, for leading us to this point today, did you get one of these on the way in. So I have one of these nearby, we’ll get to that in a little bit, because yes, we’re celebrating the Lord’s supper today. Want to welcome you as well as welcome those who are joining us this morning, online.
Um, the church, uh,
the church, um, the new Testament Christians, the church has celebrated two ordinances. Baptism being the first and then the second being the Lord’s supper, whereas baptism in water was instituted by the Lord Jesus and his apostles as a one time. One time ordinance, that’s tied closely to, uh, a Christian’s entrance into the faith and into the church family, the Lord’s supper while likewise being instituted by Jesus and the apostles is an ongoing or a repeated ordinance practiced by the community of Christians.
And it’s closely tied to our not entrance into the faith, but our continuance in the faith. And in the church. So today I want to talk about the Lord’s supper, the meaning and purpose of the Lord’s supper. And I want to recognize it. That’s what a privilege privilege we have today to celebrate this together after a long season, not being able to do so.
And you know, what else is good news two weeks from today, we’re also going to be celebrating baptism as a church family. And I think there’s eight individuals who are going to be baptized. And again, After a long season of not being able to do that. So it’s going to be, it’s going to be great. Well, for 2000 plus years, the Lord’s supper has been practiced worldwide by every church or denomination that claims to follow Jesus Christ.
Now there’s some differences in how it’s practiced for instance, like whether we call it the Lord’s supper. Or an ordinance or mass or a sacrament. And there’s a variety of views about what Jesus means precisely when he says this is my body and this is my blood, but nonetheless, the church of Jesus, since the days of the apostles has affirmed practice, valued and prioritize this event that we call the Lord’s supper.
Why. W what does it mean? Why do we do it? What is its purpose? Well, we’re going to look at the scripture, the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke record for us. The moment at the last supper that Jesus shared with his closest followers, his disciples on the night of his arrest, when in the upper room with them, he took bread and wine and declared.
This is my body. And this is my blood, the apostle Paul also recounts that event for us in first Corinthians 11. And that’s the scripture where I’d like you to turn. If you have your Bible today and, and the apostle Paul in this text, elaborates on what it means as an ongoing ordinance for the church. So let’s read that passage together.
We’re in first Corinthians chapter 11. And we’re going to start at verse 17, follow along as I read it out loud
in the following directives, I have no praise for you for your meetings. Do more harm than good in the first place. I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you. And to some extent, I believe it. No doubt. There have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval when you come together.
It is not the Lord’s supper you eat for as you eat. Each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry. Another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in. Where do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing, which shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this?
Certainly not for I received from the Lord. What I passed on to you, the Lord Jesus on the night 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 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 for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 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 man ought to examine himself before he eats the bread and drink.
So the cup for anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself, that is why many among you are weak and sick. And a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment when we are judged by the Lord we’re being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
So then my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other, if any was, if anyone is hungry, he should eat at home so that when you meet together, it may not result in judgment. And when I come, I will give further directions. Well, that’s the word of the Lord and it’s, this is a passage that, uh, raises questions in my mind and makes me realize there’s things going on in the Corinthian church that I don’t quite follow it’s it makes me feel like I’m listening to one side of a conversation without the chance to listen to what the other side is saying.
And then Paul’s words at the end there he says, and when I come, I’ll give further directions. There certainly seems to be more going on in the Corinthian church than we grasp as we read that passage. And really, I feel that way in a lot of this book of first Corinthians, but they know what Paul’s talking about.
And Paul knows what he’s talking. He’s talking to them about. And nonetheless, the principle that we have is build a scripture, does not answer every question that we might have. It answers every question we need to know. It tells us everything we need to know. And there is a lot we can learn about the Lord’s supper from this passage.
Now from this text, which was probably penned by the apostle apostle Paul, about 55 a day is clear that the ordinance of the Lord’s supper was already being practiced by Jesus’ followers. Right? You could gather that in the passage now, true. There were some abuses and problems in the way that the Corinthians were were, were behaving.
And, and doing the Lord’s supper. Um, but we also note that in the text that Paul’s quotations of Jesus’ words in verse 24 and 25 correspond, very closely to Luke’s account of the last supper that he records in his gospel. And that’s not too surprising. It may be that Luke had already penned his gospel at this point.
And Paul was familiar with it, but even if not, Paul and Luke were, uh, ministry partners and traveling companions. So it would make sense that Paul would have been familiar with Luke’s version of that last supper event. It’s also interesting to me that Paul says in verse 23, that he received from the Lord.
The instructions about the Lord’s supper. And then he passed those on to the Corinthian church at some point. So this morning, I wanna, I wanna attempt to ask and answer some basic questions about the Lord’s supper based on this text that we just read as well as the account of the last supper in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
So we can get a better handle on what the Lord’s supper is all about. So here’s our first question. It’s an easy one. Why do we call it the Lord’s supper? Well, the first reason that’s because it’s so designated in scripture, Paul calls it the Lord’s supper. Maybe you saw that here in verse, in the text in verse 20, when you come together, he says, it’s not the Lord supper you eat.
Now. It presumably was the Lord’s supper, but had it degenerated into selfishness, unfortunately, and something much less. Then the ideal worship event and Christian of Christian fellowship and remembrance and chapter 10 across the page, you can see Paul referred to this event as the cup of the Lord or the Lord’s table.
And we use those expressions also to talk about this event, but the main reason we call it, the Lord’s supper is because it was established by the Lord Jesus himself. Paul says in verse 23, the Lord Jesus. On the night he was betrayed, took bread. Again, Paul talks about how he received from the Lord, the instructions about the Lord’s supper, and then he passed them onto the Corinthian believers.
Exactly how Paul received those instructions is not entirely clear. Was it directly from the Lord? Jesus at some point, following his conversion to Christ. And before he launched himself into public ministry, Um, was it indirectly from the Lord through the testimony of Luke or the other apostles? In either case the ordinance is called the Lord’s supper, because it was instituted by the Lord Jesus himself as, as is clearly seen in the gospels.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke, our second question then why does the church practice the Lord’s supper repeatedly or with regularity? Yeah, some churches, uh, take the Lord’s supper every Sunday, others, monthly other churches do it only at their good Friday service or Easter others with the consistency of whenever we can fit it into the schedule.
But unlike baptism, which is a one-time event for the believer, all churches practice, the Lord’s supper repeatedly with some kind of regularity. Why is that? Well, though note directive is given in scripture about the frequency of the Lord’s supper. You can see the repeated nature of the Lord’s supper. It, once again, goes back to Jesus himself in Luke’s account, in the gospel of Luke chapter 22, verse 19, we read these words of Jesus, do this in remembrance of me.
So, yeah, that’s a curious statement. If the Lord’s supper is just intended to be a one special event. One time between Jesus and his apostles. You see, because he wants them to use this as a way to remember him. I mean, you don’t need to remember someone who’s standing right there with you who are sitting at the table with you.
The remembering comes later right after they are gone. So the repeated nature of this ordinance is inherent in its purpose as expressed by Jesus himself to remember him and his work on the cross. And apparently. We need a continued or repeated remembrance of Jesus’ death for us. And then going back back to first Corinthians 11, the repeated nature of the ordinance is obvious in, in, in this passage here, because when Paul quotes Jesus about the cup representing the, the blood, he includes these words from Jesus.
No, he adds this commentary after Jesus. Do. Sorry, let’s go back to the glasses. Yeah. So he quotes Jesus, um, in verse 25, do this whenever you drink it in remembrance of me. So just think of that phrase whenever you drink it. What does that suggest to you? Repetition is something is going to be repeated that Jesus instituted this ordinance as an act to be repeated.
Then Paul adds this commentary in the next verse. He says, for whenever you eat this bread or drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Think of that phrase until he comes, it implies. Perpetuity it suggest strongly once again, but this has to be an ongoing part of the church’s worship and ritual from now on until Christ returns.
So we practice it repeatedly with regularity. All right. Those first two questions were pretty easy, right? So let’s move on to number three is we talk about the significance of this, this event. How do the elements of bread and wine represent the significance of Jesus’ death for us? And this is where it’s really, really beautiful and fascinating.
The words of Jesus make clear that the bread and the wine are intended to commemorate his death for us, Luke 2219. And he took bread gave thanks and. Broke it and gave it to them saying, this is my body, which has given for you do this in remembrance of me. I believe there’s great significance in the breaking of the bread that Jesus did in view of his disciples.
And that’s the significance that may be lost on us today in that we’re going to have before us a, a tiny little piece of chicklet sized bread, that’s already been broken and conveniently packaged for us. But that’s just the way it is and that’s okay. But the visual of Jesus and I really am happy about the way the table is spread before us today.
You can, you can get the sense, the visualize. So Jesus breaking that bread and saying, this is my Bible.
I want us to visualize Jesus taking that big piece of unleavened bread and breaking it. Because Jesus Christ, who is God himself took on a human body in a body that was broken. It’s a body like ours, a body that could break a body that could suffer a body that could feel pain, a body that could be wounded, a body that could die.
There’s no religion in the world. That speaks of God, becoming a human being to share in our humanity for the express purpose of entering into our suffering and to suffer for us none, except the Christian gospel for that is what Jesus did in his death. His body was broken for us and Peter. Peter explains it this way.
He says he himself. Speaking of Jesus, he himself is first Peter two 24. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross so that we might die to sins and live to righteousness. And then he quotes from Isaiah 53 for by his wounds. We are healed. Jesus’ body was broken, wounded and died so that we might be restored and healed from the stain and pain and penalty of sin.
The broken bread we eat today speaks of his body, broken for us, and Jesus’ works. Also connect the wine to his wife, his blood Luke 2220. This cup is the new covenant in my. Blood, which is poured out for you. And once again, the practicality of serving a large group, such as we are here today, as well as adhering to modern health and safety practices, the small individual cups we use today, uh, we, we, that might obscure to some degree, what I think was the symbolism that was inherent.
And Jesus lifting up that one cop, that one goblet at again, our visual on the table is great to illustrate this forest today, lifting up that one cup and saying drink from it. All of you. This is the blood of the covenant. Just shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. And then they passed it. One to another and they all drank from it.
You see that symbolism there, there is one cup. There is one savior. There is one blood. There is one way. There is one death. There is one lamb, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And then Paul reiterate to the Corinthians that by eating this bread and drinking this cup, we do something.
What do we do? He says, In verse 26 for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death. So we share today in the Lord’s supper with one, with the bread and the cup to remember his death on our behalf and his love that compelled him to suffer in our place and the bread and the cup allow us to commemorate the death of Jesus.
On which our salvation rests. So let’s ask question, uh, number four now, which is another really important one. I think what benefit accompanies those who partake in the Lord’s supper. Now, this is the question on which various churches and denominations differ be they Catholic Lutheran, reformed or Baptist.
Essentially the question comes down to this. Is there a grace that is conferred by the act of taking the Lord’s supper? That is, is there a benefit afforded to me by the mere eating of the bread and drinking of the cup? Or is the benefit received dependent in some way on what I, as the individual believer bring to the equation.
It’s in my heart, in my attitude, in my faith. Now, generally those churches or denominations, which practice the Lord’s supper most frequently are the ones which affirmed the benefit or grace that’s inherent in the mere taking of the communion. And why not for, if grace can be conferred in the mirror, eating and drinking, then it would behoove us to do it as often as possible.
But when we think of, for instance, and compare this to baptism, you can get into the baptismal tank a million times, but that water will not wash away your sins. The value of that baptism is in the symbolism that is inherent in that act of getting into the water of visually dying to yourself and being raised with Christ and in the power of the declaration.
That a believer makes when he or she does baptism. And I think similarly, you can, you can eat as much of the matzah bread or drink as much of the grape juice as you want, but it’s the benefit does not come from the mere act of doing that. But from the symbolism that is inherent in that act and from the worship and renewal, that ensues when we participate in it, You know, and if you look at first Corinthians 11, which we’ve read together, you know, it would seem odd from what Paul says here, that there is, it seems clear that from what he says here, that there’s no real benefit in the mere eating of it because they were eating of it.
But in a way that was bringing judgment upon themselves and in an unworthy manner, that was not resulting in grace and blessing. But in judgment. So it would seem then, but the chief benefit of the Lord’s supper is tied not to the mere act of eating and drinking, but to the remembering and the reflecting on all that is symbolized and commemorated about the Lord’s death on our behalf.
And it’s seeing with, with eyes a new, our faith, Which laid on Jesus, our sin, who was willing to suffer and die in our place. So Jesus said, and these words, right? Okay. Do this. How in remembrance of me, the benefit of remembering Christ’s death will be a renewal of our love for him. As we remember his love for us, it’s it will be a renewal of genuine worship and a recommitment and surrender of our lives to him as is only appropriate when we reflect on what he has done for us and his sacrifice on the cross.
Finally, I think we’ll experience a renewal of our connection as part of his body, as part of his church. As we share together in this moment of worship and renewal drink from it, he said, all of you. In remembrance of me. And this brings us to our fifth and final question this morning, who should participate in the Lord’s supper?
Well, we can infer from scripture that the ordinance of the Lord’s supper is intended for genuine believers in the Lord, Jesus Christ, who are living lives of surrender and obedience to him lives that are free from ongoing or flagrant sin. And believers who have the maturity to discern the significance of Christ’s death for them.
So let’s break that down a little bit. First of all, genuine believers, Jesus Institute, the ordinance of the Lord’s supper with his closest, most intimate followers. He didn’t do it. He didn’t Institute this ordinance for the masses of people that were following him for the big crowds. He didn’t do it in a mixed company of skeptics and believers, faithful and faithless.
He did it with his closest most into it, intimate and devoted followers, followers, and even his group of apostles needed to be purified of Judas who had determined to betray him. So this is an ordinance for genuine believers. Genuine believers who are next living lives of surrender and obedience. Paul suggested some that participants examine themselves.
He says the person ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup questions like this are worth asking. Am I a true believer? Am I fully surrendered to Jesus? Is there some area of my life that is out of line with what the fits a true disciple? Is there any sin, public or private that I need to confess and forsake?
Next a genuine believers who are flipped free of ongoing or flagrant sin. Now Paul suggests the trivialize trivializing, the significance of Christ death by partaking in and of the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner had resulted in sickness and even death for some of the Corinthians. None of us of course are without sin.
But if we’re knowingly and deliberately tolerating known sin in our life, we ought to forego the ordinance of the Lord’s supper for the time being finally with the maturity to discern the significance of Christ’s death. For me, I think parents can help evaluate their children’s readiness for that. And even for adults, we can each evaluate.
Our heart in this moment to determine am I in a good place in my heart, my devotion to Christ, to solomnly embrace the fullness and depth of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross in my place. So if you are then as we prepare to share in this moment together, I want to invite you to. Take a moment for personal reflection and silent prayer to prepare your heart, to share in this together.
So would you take a moment just to value your head and close your eyes and spend a moment of quiet reflection with the Lord? Maybe the guys that the controls can put up some music, or if not, that’s fine too. Just take a moment to prepare your heart, to celebrate the Lord’s supper together.
we thank you, Lord Jesus for what you were willing to do for us on the cross. And, um, We feel, um, so limited in our ability to really take in the magnitude and wonder of your,
of your gift of suffering in our place. But we know that it is only on what you’ve done for us, that we can base our hope of, of forgiveness and salvation. So as we celebrate this together as a church, we give you our worship and gratitude. Amen.
Well, we come to the moment to eat the bread together first, and I was tempted to, uh, practice with one of these earlier, but then I decided, no, we’re all, we’re all doing this for the first time. So I’ll just go along with you. So if you would take out the bread and just hold it. And, uh, yeah, when we’re ready, I’d like to repeat the words that Jesus said to his disciples on that on the night of the last supper.
And then we’ll, we’ll eat it together. Mine open pretty easily. You do. All right with it. Okay. Let me see, let me see the bread and hold that up so I know you’re ready. Okay.
the Lord Jesus. On the night 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. Yeah,
well, flip it over. Be careful now.
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.
and the music that the, uh, that they put on for us just a moment ago was a, him from 250 years ago by Charles Westlake entitled end. Can it be. Let me close by reading you the first stands of that him. And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood died? He, for me, who caused his pain for me, who?
Him to death pursued. Amazing love. How can it be that thou my God should stay for me.
And I’ll ask you to be dismissed this morning, uh, reflecting on those words and the greatness of God’s love for you as we’ve been able to share and celebrate it today were dismissed.