A Meal With Jesus
Topic: 1 Corinthians Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:17–11:34
If we are going to be a Christ-exalting, God-honoring, healthy church, we need to understand and obey what Jesus wants for his church. So, for two Sundays we want to look at the Sacraments of the Church, holy actions of the church body—The Lord's Supper / Communion / Eucharist (derived from the Greek word for "thanksgiving") and Baptism.
Today, we look at the Lord's Table.
Turn to 1 Cor. 11:17-34
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Think about your favorite meal, and the experience of that meal. Family and friends. Pot roast, mashed potatoes? Medium rare steak? Thanksgiving, cajun friend turkey, sweet potatoes. There is the laughter around the table. Lots of memories. When all of your extended family and friends get together, what happens. You don't fire up a bucket of hot pockets—there is a real meal. A feast.
What happens on Sunday mornings? The family of God gathers, and a meal is prepared for us—the Lord's Supper A meal from Jesus. And a meal with Jesus. The bread and the wine. And this supper is the greatest meal on the planet—in the universe.
Supper? it's a bite, a scrap of bread and a sip of juice? That's supper? I get a little irritated when Natalie tries to give me soup for dinner—I need to chew my meals. While this supper is small in appearance it carries cosmic and eternal importance. It's power is immeasurable. No meal compares. Here's why: Jesus blessed the bread and the cup, elevated it from Jewish wonderbread and wine, and he made it food for the soul, better than fried chicken.
This is the Lord's Supper—it's his. Not the church's supper, not our supper, this meal belongs to Jesus and he invites us to dine with him. We are his guests.
Puritan Thomas Watson, "Gospel-banquet" and your plate fee has been paid. He sets the table, he's prepared the meal, and he gives us what we need a hearty, healthy, meal--the body and blood of Christ.
Jesus saves. Jesus sustains. Jesus strengthens. Jesus is all. Jesus established this meal, and he invites all sinners to come.
What you see before you, bread and juice—is the invitation of Jesus of Nazareth to believe in Him—that his death, his broken body, his pierced skin, his blood, wasn't a waste, wasn't caused because he was a failed insurrectionist against Rome—but that he came to give his life as a ransom for many, that is happen for you! to pay for our sins, to give sinners eternal life if they would believe in him, repent of their sins and trust him for their eternity.
If you believe that, you are invited to come, eat and drink. But if you don't believe in Jesus, for you, the Lord's supper is an invitation to believe in the Bread of Life before you eat of the bread. Your soul needs to eat of him, trust him.
An Invitation to Believe
Jesus said. . .
I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. (John 6:48–51 ESV)
Jesus says, "I'm giving my body, to save you. Eat, trust in me, you'll live forever."
When Jesus said at the table, "This is my body." He didn't mean, this constitutes by body, the Roman Catholic understanding, the bread is his literal body. Jesus meant, this represents my body.
And throughout the history of the church of Jesus Christ, many have either overestimated the power of the Lord's Supper, akin to the garlic and crucifix to keep vampires away. Lord's Supper-a-day keeps the demons away.
And many have underestimated the power of the Lord's supper. Akin to looking at old photo's and getting warm fuzzies.
And what we see in 1 Corinthians is a glorious picture of the Lord's supper and how it functions in the life of the church, even a incredibly messed up church like 1st Baptist Corinth.
The Lord's Supper is. . .
An Invitation to Enjoy and Exalt Jesus (1 Cor. 11:23-26)
Key words here, Remember & Proclaim.
The Lord's Supper is a dinner bell to Remember Jesus.
Jesus wants to be remembered, not memorialized, not like a tombstone, not like some A&E Biography––but remembered, worshiped! White-hot worship. The kind of worship that would melt the sun.
We are forgetful, we drift and this meal is meant to bend us back to Jesus -- to reset our hearts on him, to enjoy him.
Edwards: "Christ is the greatest friend of His church, and that which is commemorated in the Lord's Supper is the greatest manifestation of His love, the greatest act of kindness that ever was in any instance, infinitely exceeding all acts of kindness done by man one to another. It was the greatest display of divine goodness and grace that ever was."
Remembering HIM. Again, It's all about him. Mind and heart--locked in on the person and work of Jesus.
The bread is broken because his body was stapled to a roman cross, flesh ripped off his back, the cup of wine is his blood puddled on the ground for me. I'm forgiven! I'm freed! I'm accepted! I'm loved!
What's your comfort food? The Lord's supper is THE comfort food. God the Son became a Jewish man. People thought he was a failed revolutionary, and his lame followers met in caves and were drinking blood and eating flesh—they thought the early church was a cult. But we come to worship the King of Kings, we enjoy him, and exalt him.
"You proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." (v. 26)
The bread and cup are a visual sermon, it "proclaims the Lord's death." The visual reminder to the soul every week as you walk in, Bread & Cup, Christ died for me. Christ died for YOU.
God wants his gospel preached in everything. Everything in the church of Jesus Christ is to be soaked in gospel, even a piece of bread and sip of juice.
And when you eat at the Lord's Table, you are proclaiming the Lord's death. You become a preacher of glories of his righteousness. You are preaching to everyone else in this room, like the early church, you are proclaiming to the world, "I follow Jesus."
We are all about Jesus. We are all about the gospel. And the Lord's supper is one of the most gospel-centered Christ exalting things we can do.
And we do it until he comes.
It's redirection of affection to Jesus. The supper looks backward and forward. It's our rehearsal dinner for the supper to come. Jesus is coming back, to get his girl, and take her out to eat—to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Early Church Father, John Chrysostom: The celebration of the Lord's Supper is the commemoration of the greatest blessing that ever the world enjoyed."Enjoyed!
As we eat the bread and drink he cup, you stand in line, you are looking backward to Calvary and forward to the clouds with King Jesus descending. And the Lord's Supper is for the present.
An Invitation to Refreshment (1 Cor. 10:16)
After playing outside for hours, or working in the yard, playing basketball—you grab a cold drink—it's refreshing—and you feel it go down your throat. Super refreshing.
The Lord's Supper is obviously not a refreshment to our stomachs, but to our souls.Luther, "the crucifixion is is a gospel-spring, opened to refresh sinners." Why a meal? Why not just something to say or look at? Or sign? Why eat? Why a physical act for a spiritual thing?
When we come to the table, the presence of Christ is here with us. Not physically, but spiritually. And we take in these elements, it shows us that Christ is here with us, and he is gladdening our hearts and strengthening our bodies.
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:16–17 ESV)
Participation with Christ.
KJV, Communion with Christ.
NAS, Sharing with Christ.
Greek word here is koinonia, fellowship, a real experience of love.
This event, it's more than a mental acknowledgment, it's meeting with Jesus. Being refreshed by Jesus. Being filled with the Spirit. We are feeding, being nourished, encouraged, strengthened by Christ himself.
The Bible says, James 4:8, "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you." Jesus is here, he draws near to us.
An Invitation to Unity (1 Cor. 10:17)
We are one. One bread. One body. One Jesus. We are one. The Corinthians missed this point. They were getting drunk, the rich were eating a giant meal and the Lord's Supper together and the poor had nothing to eat. It became elitist. Paul says, "Quit that! Eat at home." (11:34) They were rushing the lord's supper, they weren't recognizing their unity in Christ. Paul told them, "Wait for one another." (11:33)
This is a time for unity. Look around. Though many, we are one. Nothing separates our value. New Christian, old Christian, struggling or stable Christian, legacy of a Christian family, or first Christian—we are one. We share in Christ together. He is our Jesus. We are his bride.
As we eat the Lord's Supper together we experience unity in the community as we communion with Christ
Division can't stand at the table, it buckles under the weight of the love of Christ. Buckee's does an awesome job with advertising. Buckee's, "400 miles away, you can hold it." Communion is God's billboard, I love you. I gave myself for you. Love each other, as I have loved you.
An Invitation to war & repentance (1 Cor. 10:14-22)
Paul says, "flee idolatry" and then he talks about communion. I didn't see that coming!
The table is a means to guard ourselves against the ancient dark powers of the age. Do not underestimate it, do not treat it lightly––it is means of renouncing the demonic forces & turning from idolatry.
At this table, Jesus is undoing all of Satan's work. What happened in the garden? A piece of fruit was the vehicle of disobey God, abandon faith and trust Satan's words over God's words. A meal ruined everything. And in this meal, Jesus sets everything right, back to God and his glory.
Psalmist declares, "Lord, you prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies." Satan hates this table. We eat in victory.
And before we eat, we are to examine ourselves. Confess our sins, reflect upon our heart, repent, and receive Christ.
1 Cor. 11:27-32
This drives us to hate our sin, for how could we find joy in what made him a man of sorrows (Isa. 53)? How could we love what killed him? The bread and cup are a real testimony, you are forgiven.
Don't take communion lightly, people were getting sick and dying in Corinth—not as judgment, sent to hell, but as corrective discipline, as love. Before we eat, we should examine ourselves. "Father, forgive me. I receive the blood of Christ for my forgiveness. And I receive his life, represented by the bread, to empower my life to live for you."
When you grab the elements, you are saying, "Jesus is mine. He is my Lord. I died with Him and I live with Him." Don't think: "Uh, I'm too sinful right now. I've really messed up. I'm cold, I've wandered." -- Aren't you the kind of person the Lord's Supper is prepared for? Jesus gave himself up for sinners, every kind.
Don't we need these four invitations every week!?
Up to this point, Redeemer Church as done communion about once a month. And today we are making the transition to enjoying the Lord's Supper every week.
If we are going to be a gospel-centered, Jesus-exalting people, Why not do it every week? Why not? This is one of the most Christ-exalting things we could do.
The Corinthians met every week, and 1 Cor. 11 shows that every time they gathered, they took communion—they did it wrongly, but they were doing it. "When you come together" is mentioned five times in the text. Every time they gathered, they were doing the Lord's Supper.
Weave this passage together we hear, "When you gather, do this." The early church gathered, every Lord's day––they day of Jesus' resurrection. And when they gathered, they did the Lord's supper.
This is the apostolic pattern and this is what we see in Church history.
The Didache, a training manual written for new churches, around A.D. 50-70 says, “Every Lord’s day, gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions."
Justin Martyr, explaining church gatherings, involved the weekly participation in the bread and the cup.
Paul told the Thessalonians, “stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter” (2 Thess. 2:15).
And as a church, we should follow the instruction of the Apostles, and weekly communion, as we see from church history and in 1 Cor. 11 was their instruction.
John Calvin said, "We ought always to provide that no meeting of the Church is held without the word, prayer, the dispensation of the Supper, and alms. We may gather from Paul that this was the order observed by the Corinthians, and it is certain that this was the practice many ages after."
If you grew up in a tradition, like me, that did it once a quarter or so, you may feel odd about weekly communion. I get it. And we want to lead you through it. "Really? Every week? It lose it's umph." The gospel doesn't lose it's umph, we do. And we stoke the flames of a weak fire with the gasoline of gospel glories, like The Lord's Supper.
The answer is never less gospel, it's always more.
We sing every weak, we listen to the Scripture every week, we give every week---and Jesus said, "Do this." Let's obey Jesus. Apply the same thinking: Would singing once a month make it more memorable, powerful, and special? A sermon once a quarter? Jesus said -- "Do this."
I'm excited about doing weekly communion. Making much of Jesus is the goal—and this does that.
Other churches may do the Lord's Supper differently than we do, and praise God, we are all on the same team. We feel lead by the Lord after studying that we should enjoy Christ at his table every week. Our church wants to be all about Jesus, focus on Christ and his glory, and a great thing for us to do is to meet together at his table.
Our goal is to worship Jesus, to enjoy Jesus, to proclaim Jesus. And he invites us to come.
So come, welcome to Jesus Christ. Let's enjoy him.