Summary: The significance of the special meal God has prepared for us.
“Come to the Table” I Corinthians 10:14-22 Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
Someone sent me a cartoon this week. It shows a mother and son walking home from church, and the mom says, “The next time Pastor Bob ask you what the sermon was about, don’t say, ‘About three hours’!”
Special occasions are often connected with food—Thanksgiving, Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. Friday evening I attended a dinner here at the church for the Boy Scout Yankee Clipper District Council. All afternoon I could smell the great meal Mal Hanson was preparing downstairs! Whenever there’s a special meal, we can’t wait to be told: “Come to the table!” This morning, Jesus has set the table and is inviting us, “Come to My Table.” There are several things we need to “bring to the table”…
1. Before we sit down to a meal, we need clean hands. You don’t work in the garden or garage and then come inside, sit down, and eat dinner. You wash up first. This is why the Bible tells us to examine our lives before receiving Communion. We may see something that needs to be confessed and cleaned up. When we were kids, we occasionally had to go to bed without supper because we did something bad. When we come to Jesus with remorse and repentance, we find forgiveness, restoration, and an invitation to His table. Some people get so burdened by their sins, that instead of asking forgiveness, they figure they’re too unworthy to participate, and they pass the tray without partaking. None of us are worthy, but if we’ve trusted Christ, we are eligible. He invites and authorizes us to come to the table.
2. Also before dining, we need a good appetite. What would happen if you were invited to someone’s house for dinner, and an hour before the meal you ate a bag of chips, a Coke, and a package of Twinkies? After all this junk food, you’d have little appetite for the good stuff! Paul tells us, “you can’t drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you can’t have a part in both the Lord’s Table and the table of demons” (vs. 21). God offers us a substantive meal—the Bread and Cup won’t fill us up physically, but they will satisfy our spiritual hunger. When we stuff ourselves with the junk food of sin we lose our appetite for the banquet God has prepared for us. We need to “taste and see” the satisfying goodness of the Lord (Psalm 34:8).
Dr Leroy Creasy of Cornell University has identified a chemical in grapes that reduces the risk of heart disease. He reports in the Journal of Applied Cardiology that grape juice lowers cholesterol and cleanses the heart of life-threatening impurities. At the Lord’s Table grape juice represents the blood of Christ, which cleanses our spiritual hearts of sin’s deadly effects.
We are in the world, but we don’t have to be of the world. We are exposed to sin, but we can resist temptation. Do we get an appetite for what God has for us, when we’ve been dwelling on things below, rather than things above? When our perspective is fixed on temporal things, we can get caught up in that which has no lasting value. Jesus promises, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
What does Jesus mean when He says we’ll be “filled”? I think a lot of people live their lives on EMPTY. They go day-to-day without much purpose or meaning, and when they reach the end they wonder what the point was in living. They are starving spiritually. How much different to know that God loves us individually, and has a specific plan for our lives. Jesus fills our days with a sense of significance and satisfaction.
3. When we’re dining, we also need time to enjoy the moment. My mom used to work in a fast-food restaurant in NJ called the “Eat It and Beat It”. I hear the chairs in places like MacDonalds and Burger King are designed so that people won’t get too comfortable, so they’ll eat, leave, and make room for more customers. In Europe, when you sit at a table, it’s yours for as long as you wish—sit down for lunch, and linger the whole afternoon if you like. No one is urging you to go. American tourists complain that European waiters keep a low profile—the reason is, they don’t want to appear to be rushing the customers. Sometimes we’re in such a hurry that we don’t enjoy our food; we inhale it and rush on to something else! When we partake in the Lord’s Supper, we come to savor the moment, to linger and reflect and remember. I have to admit, that sometimes I’ve looked at the clock, and after my sermon, I’ve sprinted through Communion. When we come to the Lord’s Table, our spiritual meal should be the focus of why we’re here. Liturgical churches do this; they make Communion the center of their worship.