1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 11:23 -29 – The Lord’s Supper: remembering & proclaiming “until He comes”

I CORINTHIANS 11v23 -29. 

The Lord’s Supper: remembering & proclaiming “until He comes”

 

INTRODUCTION.

ILLUST: The Voortrekker Monument – The Battle of Blood River – 16th December -“The Day of the Covenant” A Memorial representing a Covenant.

It served to remember the dead and to perpetuate the idea in the minds of some of the Afrikaner Nation that they were God’s special people to the exclusion of other nations. Simply because on one day in their history God save a few of them from massacre by the Zulus. Their monument is a memory to the dead.

God’s covenant with Israel in the OT was not to the exclusion of others and in the New Covenant of the NT it is positively opened to all people. Also the memorial of communion is not in memory of the dead but of the living. Yes we remember his death BUT he is not dead.

Some Corinthian Christians were abusing the Lord’s supper – the rich were going ahead with the meal without waiting for the poorer ones and they were also eating better food. They had apparently lost touch with the meaning of the supper itself.

Paul here in the words of institution reminds them that the reason for celebrating this meal goes back to Jesus himself.  The Lord’s Supper is precisely that THE LORD’s – in his honour and proclaiming his death – it is a witness to the salvation available to sinners through the death of Christ.

Paul also reminds them that the Lord instituted this “on the night he was betrayed”. A reference to Judas and a warning to the Corinthians and to us that attendance at communion is no guarantee of salvation. Judas had been with Jesus for 3 years – he had gone through all the motions but in the end he was following his own agenda and not Christ’s.

You can be a Church member – maybe even very active in the Church – The issue is not “Are you religious?” BUT “Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour?

The Lord’s Supper reminds us that at our best we are just sinner and when we have done all we think we should we are still “unprofitable servants” YET it is the same Table that shows us that by God’s grace we can also be God’s new covenant people – part of the family of God.

The whole purpose of celebrating the Communion is to remember the Death of Jesus and to Proclaim the facts and significance of his death “until he comes”

 

 

 

1. REMEMBERING HIS BODY AND BLOOD.

1.1 The bread.

“This is my body which is for you

do this in remembrance of me”

What are we remembering when we break bread? It is not just recalling historical facts. It is taking part in a Spiritual reality. The Lord’s Table is not like a monument that we walk around and admire. It is here that we have fellowship with the living Lord. We have fellowship with him because he is our Saviour and he died to give us life.

When we talk of the bread representing Jesus’ body we don’t only mean his physical body – to the Jewish mind the body represented the whole person. The body of Jesus represents who he is – his life, his teaching, his ministry and his work – all he was and all he did!!

The death of Jesus – the cross – is the central point of our faith – it is the central point of history. It is here where sinners become saints. It is here where God takes my life and all my weakness and sinfulness and places it on Christ and say to me “FREE” “FORGIVEN”

Isaiah foretold this centuries before Christ:

For he bore the sins of many

and made intercession for the transgressors.

[Isa.53v12b]

Peter quoting from Isa.53 reminds his readers …

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,

so that we might die to sins and live to righteousness.

For you were like sheep going astray

but now you have returned to the Shepherd

and overseer of your souls. [1 Peter 2v24-25]

Without Christ’s death there is no hope of salvation. There’s is no hope for eternity. If the only hope we have is in this life then we are to be pitied. If all you are living for is to have a nice home and a good job and financial security – or to be successful or famous. What is fame or success – well it depends on other people. You are only famous if people know who you are – how quickly fame fades – how quickly stars fall.

ILLUST: Financial security – what about all those who thought their pensions were safe……What about those who put their trust in the stock market? RECENT ECONOMIC NEWS IS NOT GREAT!!!

Security – there is no security in this life. You can be insured for millions. But illness and motor accidents don’t take too much notice of insurance policies. You can invest in a Personal Pension Plan and never live to enjoy it.  {NOT SAYING – you should NOT make provision for your retirement if you are able to – we have to be responsible citizen} Where is your final security?? In human institutions?? Or in GOD?

Jesus Christ died in our place to destroy the thing over which we have absolutely no power. SIN and DEATH. With all our scientific knowledge and all our cleverness we have no answer to the moral vacuum in our society!! We have no answer to death – doctors can sometimes prolong the life but the can’t stop the inevitable! Mankind has no answer BUT GOD does and his answer in Jesus Christ and his death on the cross!

Jesus said “This is my body which is FOR you”

FOR – in our behalf – “Jesus Christ died for our sins” [1 Cor.15v3]

–  ” You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. … God demonstrates his own love for us in this; While we were still sinners, Christ died for us [Romans 5v6&8]

FOR – in our place – He is the substitute.

ILLUST: Passover – Jews exodus from Egypt – the angel of death Passover the house because the blood covered the doorposts. The lamb died in place of the first-born. The blood symbolised the cover and protection from death.

And so Jesus died in our place – to protect us from the judgement of God. It is not popular these days to talk about Hell. The Bible speaks about hell and says that the person who rejects Jesus Christ as Lord will go there. You may not like that and you may choose not to believe it but that is what the Bible says.

“Oh But I thought God was a God of Love” He is!! That is why Jesus died on the cross.

For God so loved the World that he gave His only Son

the whoever believes in him should not perish but

have eternal life {John 3v16}

There is no greater evidence for the love of God than the cross of Christ. And whoever believes will be saved / live!!

1.2 The Cup.

This cup is the new covenant in my blood, do this,

whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.

A new covenant presupposes that there was an old one. In the OT when God gave the law through Moses they were sprinkled with blood to ratify the covenant.

[Using blood to seal a covenant was a normal everyday way of coming to a binding agreement]

It was agreement between God and Israel, the people of God – obey God and keep his law and there will be consequences – He will bless you BUT disobey and there will be consequences – God will punish you. Your choice!!

BUT they didn’t keep it because they couldn’t and God knew that therefore his plan was always to make a new way through his SON, Jesus Christ.

A new way, which says God will do it and give it as a gift to those who will receive it! The new covenant is not dependent upon us but upon the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

The new covenant, like the old, is sealed in blood. The blood of Christ. And it creates a new people of God who are in a covenant relationship with God. We belong to Him. We are his children. The terms of this covenant are not dependent on our abilities but on God’s promises.

The Promises:-     “..a new creation …”

” and full life [purposeful]”

” eternal life” [life not ending in death]

” sins forgiven..’

” Peace with God” [Not no stress or trouble but peace even in the midst of trouble and strife]

“.. a new family.” [The family of God]

2. PROCLAIMING THE BODY AND BLOOD.

Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you PROCLAIM the Lord death until he comes.

This communion is a witness to the death of Jesus. Every time we do it we are proclaiming a message – the message that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died on a cross to save sinners.

What we have received from him is only a taste of what is still to come.

Jesus said to his disciples on the night of the Last Supper:

I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine

until the kingdom of God comes. [Luke 22v18]

“UNTIL HE COMES” tells us two things.

1) To the Christian it is a reminder that the best is yet to come.

ILLUST: When your loved one goes away you have a photograph to remind you of  her/him.

When he/she returns you don’t sit staring at the photo.

So to with Christ – the communion is a symbol – a reminder – when he returns we will not need it any more because we will see him and we will be like him.

2) To those who have not yet committed their lives to Jesus Christ its an opportunity – the ‘”UNTIL HE COMES” says there is yet time! Don’t delay!

God is patient and long-suffering BUT there will come a time when God Says, “ENOUGH” and after that it will be too late.

ILLUST: A a communion service a pastor noticed a lady who he knew to be a Christian refuse the bread as it came by – knowing her struggle and her feeling unworthy he went to her with the bread and said ” Take it , my dear, its for sinners”

The Communion is not for the perfect. If that were so none of us would be able to take it! The communion is for sinners – for those who acknowledge that Jesus Christ died to save them. For those who have repent and believe in Jesus. If you have never done that – Why not today – NOW? Jesus loves you and showed that by dying for you.

For the Christian the communion is a constant reminder of and witness to the death of Christ for us. It also reminds us that we are God’s people in a New Covenant relationship with him AND that we are family – related to each other.

If you claim to be a Christian what difference does it make to the way you live your life. It is no good coming to church on Sunday if you live the rest of your life as you please. The death of Jesus for you demands more than Sunday lip service.

Does you faith make a difference to the way you treat your spouse, children, family and friends.

Does it make a difference to the way you do your work – relate to your colleagues? Do they know that you are a follower of Jesus?

In other words how are you PROCLAIMING HIS DEATH UNTIL HE COMES?

I am not talking about being a bible-baser.

I am not talking about being so heavenly minded that you are no earthly use! You have got to have your feet on the ground! Your faith must affect your life in the nitty-gritty everyday affairs of life.

The communion reminds us of what Jesus did for us and challenges us to examine our lives in the light of that.

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