Summary: A sermon describing the Lord's Supper (Adapted from Andrew Paris in the book, Essentials of Christian Faith, chapter 9 The Lord's Supper; some other thoughts from Knofel Staton in an article in Christian Standard called "The Lord's Supper is Essential)
It is possible in one accident to lose my left arm, the watch on the arm, and a significant amount of blood. The fact that I lose all of them at the same time does not mean, however, that all the losses are equal. My left arm is important, but not essential for my life to continue; my watch is nice, but not important or essential; now my blood is both important and essential for life.
What is essential and important for a Christian? Baptism is essential for salvation. This Sunday night we are saying that the Lord’s Supper is essential and important in two ways:
1. The Lord’s Supper is essential for keeping alive the reality and results of Jesus crucifixion in our lives. We remember the reality of Jesus’ death by partaking of the bread and juice that symbolize his body and his blood. We experience the results of that death by proclaiming it (“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:26, NIV). With Jesus’ death and sacrifice we have a part in His Kingdom and we testify to this through the Lord’s Supper. Vertical relationship
2. One of the essentials for Christians is commitment to the “one anothers” of the NT. The Lord’s Supper is a meal of fellowship- and expression of unity with other members and the Master. No wonder Jesus introduced the “one anothers” around the first Lord’s Supper (John 13:34-35: Love one another X 3). The Lord’s Supper is essential for both recommitting ourselves to the cross of Christ and to reflect His love and care for the church (“body”). Horizontal relationships.
Thesis: To help us understand the essential and important features of the Lord’s Supper, we will look at 3 things
Christ’s Presence at the Lord’s Supper
Toward the end of the Last Supper- “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:26-28, NIV.
But what did Jesus mean by those words, “This is my body, this is my blood? Jesus meant that in some sense He is present at the Lord’s table. But how? In what sense are the bread and cup His body and blood? Do they literally become His body and blood when we partake?
To answer simply, Christ is not physically present in the bread and cup, but is spiritually present in the action of the Lord’s Supper. The bread and the cup symbolize Christ’s body and blood as He is dying on the cross. When a Christian partakes in the action of receiving the bread and juice and meditating on the death of Christ which they symbolize, Jesus spiritually comes to us and feeds our souls. Other views contains two flaws:
1. That physically we partake of Jesus actual blood and body is not proven from Scripture. At the end of the discussion in John 6, we find Jesus saying this, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.” John 6:63, NIV. Here Jesus is saying that eating His physical flesh and blood cannot benefit our souls. “The Spirit gives life”- not Christ’s physical body. 1 Corinthians 11:26 teaches that we are to observe the Lord’s Supper “until He comes.” Now He is here spiritually, but not physically. The physical presence of Jesus is absent from the earth until His Second Coming.
2. The physical view is contradictory to Scripture. Scripture condemns all cannibalism and drinking blood is forbidden even in the NT. If Christians eat Christ’s flesh and blood in the Lord’s Supper, they commit the sin of cannibalism.
The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper
Consider the 4 “C”s of the Lord’s Supper: Commemoration, Confession, Communion, Covenant
Commemoration. “Do this in remembrance of me” Luke 22:19. This reminds us that Jesus loves us and died to save us from sin. We remember or commemorate this fact every time we gather at the Lord’s Table.
At the Lord’s Supper we remember the evil of sin. Our sin was the reason He died. As we eat the broken bread and drink from the cup, we remember that Jesus was wounded for our transgressions and was crushed for our sins (Isaiah 53:5). The Supper reveals to us how much God hates our sins but loves our souls.
At the Lord’s Supper we remember the justice of God. At Calvary Jesus became the propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). This means that Christ’s death turns away the wrath of God from us. At the cross Jesus endured the full punishment of eternal hell that we deserve for our sins, bearing God’s wrath and justice as our substitute (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13-14; Isaiah 53:6)