Summary: In this sermon we are going to review Magdalene meeting Jesus at the tomb and suggest that the keys to taking the communion table in a worthy manner are turning away from a life of sin, praying for faith, seeking the master, hearing, and acknowledging His voice, and rejoicing for He is our Lord!

Remembering the Lord’s Table Rightly

John 20:10-18

Online Sermon:

“So then, 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.”

1 Corinthians 11:27

How does one come before the communion table in a worthy manner? Apostle Paul states the key to remembering rightly the Lord’s death until He returns starts with an examination of oneself. To approach He who is holy one must first confess the logs within one’s eyes, you know those compartments of one’s life that are still worldly! If only confession was merely an intellectual exercise of speaking the “right” words rather than by the grace of God turning away from sin, then this task would be quite easy. At minimum should not the Lord’s table be a passionate invite to have our Gardener Jesus come and pluck the weeds of sin while watering our plants of righteousness? Before this can happen, though we must deal with our biggest sin of all, indifference! Our passion and “conceptions of our Lord are so poor and low, that if He were to come to us in even a moderate degree of His glory, we should fail to apprehend His presence.” Before we come to the Lord’s table we must pray that God would make our hearts responsive to His kingdom and stir up such fiery passion in our souls that through His power we might break through our iniquities, the demons and powers of this dark world (Ephesians 6:12) and cry out Abba Father my soul will never stop longing for Your embrace, for You alone my heart’s desire and portion! As we draw nearer to our Lord we must refuse to leave His table and look back again at the “sepulchre of self or the world where one only finds things of death,” but instead with a childlike faith we are to honor the Lord by constantly listening to His often still, small voice and by inviting Him to never stop plowing furrows of righteousness in our hearts! To learn how important it is to approach the Lord’s table rightly we are going to examine the story of Mary Magdalene meeting Jesus at the tomb. In this remarkable event we are going to learn that the keys to taking the communion table in a worthy manner are turning away from a life of sin, praying for faith, seeking the master, hearing, and acknowledging His voice, and rejoicing for He is our Lord!

Mary Magdalene

We do not know a great deal about Mary Magdalene so we must be careful to distinguish between fact and what is conjecture. It can be quite challenging to not mix up the identities of the Mary’s in the New Testament: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, Mary of Bethany, and Mary of John Mark. By the seventeenth century “Mary Magdalene” was thought to have been a reformed prostitute and many thought she was the unnamed sinner who anointed Jesus’ feet with an alabaster jar of perfume (Luke 7) but there is no evidence to prove either of these assertions to be true. There are some things that we do know for a fact about Mary. First, as her name indicates her hometown was Magdala, a small town on the western shore of the sea of Galilee. Second, Mary had been an object of Christ’s grace for she had seven demons casted out of her (Luke 8:2). Third, Mary Magdalene “appears in all four Gospels as a follower of Jesus (Luke 8:2) and at critical moments in Jesus’ story: the foot of the cross (Matt 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25) and the tomb (Matt 27:61, 28:1–10; Mark 15:47–16:11; Luke 24:1–11; John 20:1–18).” Fourth, Mary Magdalene was a woman of means for she was counted amongst the women who followed and provided for Jesus (Mark 15:40-41) and along with Mary the mother of James and Salome purchased spices to anoint Jesus’ body (Mark 16:1). And finally as we will learn shortly Mary Magdalene lingers at the tomb and is the first person to see the risen Christ!

Turning Away from a Life of Sin

The first thing we learn about Mary’s life that is helpful in coming before the communion table is the need to repent and turn towards Jesus. As soon as Mary had the seven demons cast out of her, she obtained a fiery passion and a single-minded devotion to seek only her Lord. Living in a world where tolerance of diverse views is celebrated the Bible has become one voice amongst many! If we want to honor the Lord at His table then we must become like the Psalmist and learn to hate and turn away from anything in life that entices us to break God’s commands (Psalms 119:128). When Paul says we ought to examine ourselves this is far from an easy task for the “darkness in our souls” clouds our judgment. To identify those sins that still entangles us (Hebrews 12:1), even those who have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) need help from the Spirit of truth (John 16:13) to reveal those planks hidden deeply within our self-seeking passions (Matthew 7:1-5)! Once we know our sins, the next step is to confess them to God with the assurance that He who is just and faithful will cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). While this sounds easy, we must not forget that “confession” in this verse is not merely with one’s lips to obtain cheap grace, as if God would ever forgive one who “secretly” continues to lust and still see the sin as pleasurable. Instead through the power of the Spirit repentance is an invitation for God to “sweep clean” (Luke 11:14-28) our temples (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) clean by replacing our desire to sin with a fiery passion to walk in the footsteps of Christ so that we might please the Father in heaven (Psalms 119:133)! So, in reverence of He who bought you at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20) and is your heart’s desire and portion (Psalms 16:5-11), basking in His love take the time right now to bow and pray to the Lord that He might show you your sins so that through repentance and by His grace and power you might be forgiven and partake of His table rightly!

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