[Central Idea: This meal reminds us, through the family of faith and Jesus' death, that God hasn't forgotten us]
INTRO: Have you ever felt that you were alone in a difficult situation? Sickness, unemployment, loneliness? My previous state of singleness.
Maybe you feel alone or wounded today at something God has done or not done. One of the things the Lord's Supper (LS) can help with is assuring that God hasn't forgotten us.
1. What is the Lord's Supper? [Communion, Eucharist, Lord's Table]
Explain Ex 12:
- God has inflicted the plagues on Egypt and is preparing to lead Moses and children of Israel out of Egypt.
- One final plague: death angel to kill first born of all Egyptians and Israelites if they didn't obey him.
- God tells them to prep a Passover meal and place blood of lamb or goat on door posts--he would pass over.
- Eat the meat with haste because it represented that God would bring swift judgment on his enemies and a quick escape.
The cup that we partake of in the LS is most likely associated with the 3rd of four cups in a festival called the Passover. [I'm not sure if it is a Passover meal or just associated with it.]
Read Mk 14:12-21: It is the last meal that Jesus had with his disciples before he died.
Read 1 Cor 11:23-26
2. Why bread and wine (juice)?
- Basics of a meal in first century.
- Color of wine like blood.
- Something living had to die in order to give life.
Because in these elements, there was once life: grape and wheat. In order for them to be eatable, they had to die. What was living died so that it could provide life. That reminds us of Christ. He died to give us life. We also die to ourselves as we live for God.
3. Why the image of a meal?
- We involve all of our senses when we eat.
- We consume a meal totally.
- We eat daily: Being a follower of Christ is not just a one-day-a-week thing, but it is a daily relationship, a communion, a thanksgiving feast, in which Christ is the essence of our lives, just as a meal is necessary, enjoyable, and internal.
- We covenant with God and other believers: In the first century and earlier, to eat someone's food, meant you'd be loyal to them. Are you at peace with God and your brothers and sisters in Christ? [Salt: ; Lev 2:13; 22:4-6; Num 18:19; 2 Chron 13:5]
Covenant: "...an arrangement made by one party with plenary [full] power, which the other party may accept or reject but cannot alter" (Archer, Evang. Dic. of Theo., 278).
We renew our vows as Christians to follow Christ and to love each other.
[Ignorance is no excuse: Jacob's first wife, Leah (Gen 29:25)]
We are in effect saying,
- "Lord we remember that you died to forgive our sin so that we could have a relationship with you.
- "Lord, we as a community of faith acknowledge your authority over our lives.
- "And we recognize that we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ as you loved us."
- It also reminds us of the heavenly feast.
4. Who partakes?
Only Christians--those who have put their faith in Christ's death as the only payment for sin.
- For believers only because this meal is fellowship with God and with his people.
- This meal itself does not give you a relationship with God. Rather it is an expression of your relationship with God.
5. Who is worthy to partake?
Those living a consistent Christian life--because this meal that blesses also curses.
Read 1 Cor 11:27-34
- Corinthians were eating festive meals which included LS.
- Some believers (possibly rich) gathered early and ate all the food, and got drunk.
- Poorer believers possibly had to work longer and would come later to find all the food was gone and folks were drunk.
- The upper class excluded those who couldn't get there early and poorer people.
- Paul condemned their greed and flippancy when approaching others and the LS.
Am I worthy to partake of this meal?
We partake, not because we are worthy, but because Christ has invited us to share a meal with him and his people.
Who is invited to the table?
Those living a consistent Christian life.
- If you have sin in your life that you're not willing to forsake, then don't partake.
-If you're not willing to give of your riches and help the poor, don't partake. (Do we love our money more than people?) Such an attitude says you're probably not a Christian. Please don't partake.
-Problem with another Christian? Attitude to reconcile.
The meal is a promise that we are in good fellowship with each other and God.
-see other believers as equals and
-help those in need.
- If you are a believer and struggling with a particular sin, repent and partake.
LS is serious (cross) but it's also a celebration (daily joy and heaven).
LS is an expression of grace. It doesn't make you a Christian.
- But approach LS same way we approach God for salvation--Needy.
- We partake because God invites us not because we deserve to come.
6. How do we gain strength from the LS?
It reminds us that God hasn't forgotten us.
- LS comes out of Jesus' giving hope amid the most difficult situation, the crucifixion.
- Look around us and see. He's given us a community of faith to live with.
-Tie back into singleness and loneliness
The Mysterious Meal--shortened version (Spiritual Reflections, KLH)
"When I approach the LS, I'm tempted to explain away its mystery and make it something I fully understand. I don't like doing things that aren't backed with logic and good sense. But the LS is full of divine foolishness. What good does a tiny bit of bread and juice do for Christians who have adult-sized appetites and God-sized problems? What does death and resurrection have to do with a meal anyway? Yet, it is here where the clarity comes: This meal is not for me to take by my own choosing. I must receive it with no pre-condition of superior knowledge. I can't barter with God or earn his favor. I can't receive until he offers. I must release my tight grip of control, letting go of the desire to abolish all mystery. I must approach the LS as I approached the Lord for salvation: with empty hands and open mouth.
"When I take this meal, somehow I see the invisible, I smell the heavenly bread, I taste the world to come, and I digest more than food. I hear the inaudible voice of my Creator, I touch the intangible, and I find rest where there is only weariness. Once again, the cross and empty tomb have provoked me to worship Christ."
[Silence]: confession, healing
Also see, Bring Back the Lord's Supper: Open Letter to Southern Baptists