Grace For The Journey
The Lord’s Supper service is all about remembering and honoring the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, lest we forget the significance of what Jesus has done for us and what the Lord’s Supper service means to us, we need to spend some time looking into the wonder of this great event.
A WORD ABOUT THE BACKGROUND
It Is Important To Consider The Context Of The Passage.
Jesus used the backdrop of the Passover observance as a canvas upon which He painted the truth of the new covenant.
Passover (“Pesach” in Hebrew) is a Jewish festival celebrating the exodus from Egypt and the Israelites’ freedom from slavery to the Egyptians. The Feast of Passover, along with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, was the first of the festivals to be commanded by God for Israel to observe (see Exodus 12). Commemorations today involve a special meal called the Seder, featuring unleavened bread and other food items symbolic of various aspects of the exodus.
Passover is one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays. Along with Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost) and Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles), Passover is one of the three “pilgrimage” festivals in Scripture, during which the Jews were commanded to travel to Jerusalem and observe the feasts together. Passover takes place in the spring, during the Hebrew month of Nisan. In Western countries, Passover is celebrated in early-to mid-April and is always close to Easter.
The Book of Exodus tells of the origin of Passover. God promised to redeem His people from the bondage of Pharaoh (Exodus 6:6). God sent Moses to the Egyptian king with the command that Pharaoh “let my people go” (Exodus 8:1). When Pharaoh refused, God brought ten plaques on the land of Egypt. The tenth and worst of the plagues was the death of all the firstborn in Egypt.
The night of the first Passover was the night of the tenth plague. On that fateful night, God told the Israelites to sacrifice a spotless lamb and mark their doorposts and lintels with its blood (Exodus 12:21-22). Then, when the Lord passed through the nation, He would “pass over” the households that showed the blood (verse 23). In a very real way, the blood of the lamb saved the Israelites from death, as it kept the destroyer from entering their homes. The Israelites were saved from the plague, and their firstborn children stayed alive. From then on, every firstborn son of the Israelites belonged to the Lord and had to be redeemed with a sacrifice (Exodus 13:1-2, 12; cf. Luke 2:22-24).
The children of Israel in Egypt followed God’s command and kept the first Passover. However, none of the Egyptians did so. All through Egypt, behind the unmarked, bloodless doorways of the Egyptians, the firstborn children died at midnight (Exodus 12:21-29). Verse 30 tells us, “There was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.” This dire judgment finally changed the Egyptian king’s heart, and he released the Israelite slaves (verses 31–32).
Along with the instruction to apply the Passover lamb’s blood to their doorposts and lintels, God instituted a commemorative meal: fire-roasted lamb, bitter herbs, and unleavened bread (Exodus 12:8). The Lord told the Israelites to “And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and yours sons forever.” (Exodus 12:24), even when in a foreign land.
To this day, Jews all over the world celebrate the Passover in obedience to this command. Passover and the story of the exodus have great significance for Christians also, as Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law, including the symbolism of the Passover (Matthew 5:17). Jesus is our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7; Revelation 5:12). He was killed at Passover time, and the Last Supper was a Passover meal (Luke 22:7-8). By spiritually applying His blood to our lives by faith, we trust Christ to save us from death. The Israelites who, in faith, applied the blood of the Paschal lamb to their homes become a model for us. It was not the Israelites’ ancestry or good standing or amiable nature that saved them; it was only the blood of the lamb that made them exempt from death (see John 1:29 and Revelation 5:9-10).
In this passage, we are given the details necessary to understand all we need to know about this event we know as the Lord’s Supper, of the Communion.
This Passage Shows Us The Purpose Of The Lord’s Supper – Verses 19-20.
Verses 19 and 20 say, “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying ‘This is My body which is given for you, do this in remembrance of Me. Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” The Lord’s Supper is different than a typical memorial service that we have today! Memorial services are held for those who are dead. The Lord’s Supper is exactly what the Lord says it is right here, and that is it is a “time of remembrance.”
- It is a time for the church to call to mind the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- It is to be a time of reverence, yet at the same time it should be a time of extreme celebration.
- Above all, it must be a time of worship and of focus upon the Person work of Jesus, alone.
Every other thought should be stricken from the mind, and He should be allowed to be the centerpiece of the Lord’s Supper celebration.
This is the way things ought to be. In the beginning of the church, we find the believers observing the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis (See Acts 2:42). Unfortunately, not many years passed until the Lord’s Supper became corrupted by the church. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 what happened in the early church. Even though these things happened nearly 2,000 years ago, there is still the danger that we might permit some of the same errors in our day. Therefore, let’s I want to take a few minutes to look at the events in Corinth and how they speak to us today.
This passage Shows Us The Problems Surrounding The Celebration In The Early Church.
Notice Paul’s tone as he addresses the Corinthians, verse 17. He uses the word “declare”. This word means “command.” Paul comes to them in power and tells them that he is about to set the record straight. I can almost feel the wrath of the great Apostle as he writes these words.
Notice the abuses that were present in the church and in the observance of the Lord’s Supper in particular. Please note that there is always the danger that we will fall into the same trap into which the Corinthians fell. There are 4 abuses catalogued here that need to be mentioned this morning.
Verses 18-19 There Were Cliques And Divisions In The Church.
When divisions, cliques, factions, and parties exist in any church, then there is disorder in that church. I t always means that there is pain, anger, disturbance, rumors, gossip, pride, selfishness, misunderstanding and misrepresentation in the church. The bottom line is that minds are not fixed on Jesus as they should be. There is no peace with God, or with one another. (Note: Why does God allow cliques and divisions? So that genuine believers might shine more brightly. You see, when there are divisive and cliquish people in the church it proves that they are not genuine believers, verse 19. When the false believers act as they do, it causes the true Christians to be more visible.)
Verse 20 Tells Us There Was Self Deception.
When they came together in this divisive and cliquish atmosphere, they thought they were partaking of the Lord’s Supper. In truth, they weren’t “remembering and honoring” the Lord, they were putting self on display. Everything they did was for their own benefit. That spirit is also evident today! Many just go to church and go through the motions to be seen of men. Sadly, this is the same spirit in which they approach the Lord’s Supper.
Verse 21 Tells Us There Was Selfishness And Neglect Of Others.
When the Corinthian believers gathered for the Lord’s Supper, there was no sense of fellowship or communal celebration. The church broke apart along its internal fault lines. It became a case of every man for himself. God help the church that ever loses sight of one another.
Verse 22 Tells Us They Abused The Sanctity Of The Church And Shamed The Poor.
There was a bad spirit surrounding the entire meal. There was no sense of community and brotherly love on a horizontal level, and there was no genuine worship of God on a vertical level. The church had degenerated into nothing more than a social club. That must never be allowed to happen in any local body of believers.
This Passages Shows Us The Penalty Associated With Partaking Of The Lord’s Supper Unworthily – Verses 27-30.
What Does It Mean To Partake “Unworthily?” Paul was addressing the Corinthian church about their sins. It was their sins which caused them to partake of the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner. What were their sins?
1. Division – Verse 18.
2. Heresy – Verse 19.
3. Self-deception – Verse 20.
4. Selfishness and indulgence – Verses 21.
5. Drunkenness – Verse 21.
6. Neglect of the poor – Verse 21.
7. Irreverence and carelessness in protecting the sanctity of the church – Verse 22.
In summary, there was a general spirit of irreverence and thoughtless surrounding their entire approach to the Lord’s Supper. The bottom line is this, it would appear that having sin in one’s heart and life is what is meant by partaking unworthily. The Bible tells us in Psalms 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.”
How Then Can Anyone Be Counted Worthy? – Since our only worthiness can be found in the Lord Jesus, it is only when we are counted worthy by Him that we are found worthy to partake of the Lord’s Supper. There are 3 basic necessities for being counted worthy . . . :
1. That we walk in constant confession.
2. That we walk in consistent obedience.
3. That we walk in continuous praise and thankfulness of Christ’s Person, His
grace and His work!
What Are The Consequences Of Partaking Unworthily?
Verse 22 tells us that we become guilty of the Lord’s death. That is, we are held accountable for His death. When we partake of the Lord’s Supper unworthily, we are guilty of 5 terrible sins . . .
a. We insult Christ.
b. We offend Christ.
c. We trample Christ under foot.
d. We treat the death of Christ as a meaningless thing.
e. We shame the name of Christ.
Verses 28 and 29 tell us that such action causes us to condemn ourselves. When we fail to examine ourselves, we bring damnation on our lives. This does not mean that we will go to Hell, it does mean that we will open our lives up to the chastisement and the judgment of God. When we do this, it is evidence that we do not have a proper respect for the seriousness and holiness of the Lord’s Supper service. God takes the Lord’s Supper very seriously, even if we do not!
Verse 30 teaches us that we will also face the chastisement and judgment of God – When the Lord’s Supper is abused to the level witnessed at Corinth, God will step in with chastisement. This verse plainly tells us that sickness and death are the results of abusing the Lord’s Supper service.
Verse 31 address the procedure for dealing with our sins as individuals and as a church. This verse tells us that self-examination is the only remedy for sin. When we examine ourselves against the Word of God, we will see our shortcomings. Then, we can confess them, forsake them, and receive immediate cleansing from the Lord, 1 John 1:9.
A WORD ABOUT THE BREAD
- It Refers To A Symbol. Jesus took bread and used it to symbolize His body. When we take the bread, we do not eat flesh, but should see only a symbol.
- It Refers To A Sacrifice. The broken body of our Lord calls to mind the terrible price He paid for our redemption on the cross at Calvary. There, He endured all the brutality, humiliation, and degradation the human race could dish out. Notice some of what He endured for you and me.
- He was Beaten – Luke 22:63-64.
- He Was Scourged – Matthew 27:6; Psalm 129:3.
- He was Spit Upon – Matthew 27:30.
- He was Mocked – Matthew 27:26-29.
- His beard was Plucked Out – Isaiah 50:6.
- He was Stripped Naked – Matthew 27:35.
- He was Nailed to the Cross and Crucified – Matthew 27:38; John 20:25.
(Note: All of this was done for one reason – YOU! The Bible tells us in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated His love toward us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.” That is the gift that we celebrate when we observe the Lord’s Supper. When you take the bread that symbolizes the broken body of the Lord Jesus take the time to “stir up your minds by way of remembrance and actively meditate” upon suffered for you.
A WORD ABOUT THE BLOOD.
Like the bread, the juice is also symbolic in nature . . .
The Blood Speaks Of A New Covenant. In the Old Testament, the sinner approached God through the blood of a slain animal. Under the new covenant, the one which Jesus inaugurated, men must come to God through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that in Hebrews 9:11-15 and 22, “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse you conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called my receive the promise of the eternal inheritance … “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”
The Blood Speaks Of A New Cleansing. We just read that in Hebrews 9:22. It takes blood to save the soul and . . .
The only blood that possesses
The power to save the soul
Is the precious
Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:18-19, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Under the new covenant, only the blood of Jesus can make the lost sinner clean and prepare him for a heavenly home. It is simple faith in the shed blood of Jesus that saves the soul!.
The Blood Speaks Of A Priceless Compassion. In our passage today (Luke 22:20) Jesus reminds us that His blood was poured out for us. He did not die for Himself! He did not go to the cross to liberate Himself, but to liberate you and me! He died to set us free! When you take the cup as you participate in the Lord’s Supper, which symbolizes the shed blood of the Lord Jesus, allow your mind to actively meditate on the glory and the power of Hid precious blood which was shed for you.
According to 1 Corinthians 11:26, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” When we participate in the Lord’s Supper as a congregation, we preach a sermon about the death, the resurrection, and the return of the Lord Jesus. If we carry out this observance in the right spirit, then we celebrate our Lord’s death and we center our minds on Him. As a result, we are brought closer to Him through worship. Also, we have delivered the Gospel to the lost and they will now have the opportunity to come to the Lord for salvation. If you need Jesus in your life, I invite you to come to Him right now and let Jesus save your soul. Will you do that?
May we Christians, who have the privilege to meditated on the Lord and His glorious gift of salvation through the Lord’s Supper, and be reminded of His greatness, glory, and grace and of all He has done for us. May we come before Him with a spirit of praise and worship. How we ought to thank Him for giving His life and being alive today!
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”