COMMUNION WITH JESUS CHRIST
Communion - Interaction between two or more people; especially intimate association and interaction implying sympathy and confidence; interchange of thoughts, purposes, etc.; agreement; and fellowship
At the end of this morning’s service we will be observing the Lord’s Supper. This is an ordinance of the Christian church that was set in order by Jesus during the Last Supper in the Upper Room on the night of his crucifixion. Some faiths call it the Lord’s Supper; some call it Communion; and others call it the Eucharist; but no matter what we call it, the symbolism and reason for observing it should be the same.
We do not believe that the bread and juice from the fruit of the vine are converted into the actual flesh and blood of Jesus Christ after it is consumed as some teach as according to the Doctrine of Transubstantiation. Even so, we do believe that the bread and juice represent that flesh and blood of our Lord that was so freely given for our salvation.
While partaking of the Communion is a wonderful way of identifying and recognizing the great price that Jesus paid for our salvation, there is a communion with Christ that must occur before we can be found “worthy” to partake of this ordinance.
1 Corinthians 11:27-30 carries a solemn warning and some clear instructions to everyone who would desire to observe the Lord’s Supper, "Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."
How can we make ourselves worthy? What can we do to be counted as worthy to observe the Lord’s Supper?
Firstly, there is nothing within ourselves that we can do to make ourselves worthy for anything that God has given to us. We have no power within ourselves to cleanse sin from our hearts. We have no power within ourselves to draw close to God or to begin to understand his ways. We must never forget that it is by the grace and mercy of our loving God that we have the privilege of coming to him and it is by his grace that we have our understanding opened so that we can learn of him.
The power of sin in the heart of man is a blinding force that makes him absolutely incapable of knowing and understanding God, indeed, he does not know nor does he have an inner desire to know anything concerning the spiritual matters because he is dead spiritually and must be “born again” of the Spirit of God before he can begin to learn of spiritual things.
Secondly, the only thing we can do to be counted “worthy” is to surrender our hearts and lives unto the Lord in repentance for our sin. It is the body and blood of Jesus that makes us worthy.
But there is more to this worthiness to observe the Lord’s Supper than being cleansed by his blood and born again by his Spirit.
As Paul was writing to the Christians of the Corinthian Church, he gave some very specific instructions to all who would desire to observe the Lord’s Supper.
If this ordinance is to be observed and we are to partake of it as Jesus intended for us to do, there are some guidelines that we must follow lest we endanger our health, our lives and perhaps our very soul. I think that the first thing we must realize is that this is not just another ordinance or tradition that man has established within the framework of his denominational rules. This is an ordinance established by Jesus himself.
As such, we should be very careful to follow his exact method and purpose for the Communion.
As we discuss this matter of Communion, let me tell you that we are to be in communion with Jesus every moment of our lives and not just at the time of the observance of the Lord’s Supper. If we were in proper communion with him, we would not have to worry about whether we fulfill the requirements of this ordinance or not.
Communion with Jesus is a multi-faceted thing. Let me attempt to explain this to you.
Jesus’ body was broken for you and I. He was beaten with the flagellum, a specially designed whip that would bruise, rip and tear the flesh each time it was lashed and drawn across the body of the victim. His beard was plucked from his face. He was beated with fists, crowned with a crown of long, sharp and painful thorns, huge nails driven into his wrists and his feet, and finally a spear was thrust into his side.
All of these were methods by which Jesus’ body was broken. Yet no man forced him to do so. His mind was made up and he determined to “give his body” for you and I. It was the Love of God that held him to the cross. It was the Grace of God that led him to Pilate’s Hall. It was the Mercy of God that his course was set.
John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Jesus’ body was broken for us. He is our example, and though we are not commanded to break our body, but to treat it as the Temple of the Holy Ghost, we are still obligated to break this flesh as a part of our communion with him.
We are to break the desires of the flesh, and to learn to put our bodies in subjection to the will of God. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:27, "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
We place our bodies under subjection by prayer, fasting, and feeding of the spiritual man so that our desires for spiritual things overcome our desire for the things of the flesh. It is a constant and conscious effort on our part to make sure that the “body of flesh” is put under subjection. Paul gives us some pretty clear instructions on how to keep the body under subjection in his letter to the Thessalonians.
1 Thessalonians 5:17-24, "Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."
Through a constant and consistent prayer life and living in an attitude of prayer, we are ever in communion with Christ as we examine our heart and life to make certain that we are living in obedience to his Word.
If we are in communion with Jesus, we are living a life of Thankfulness. We acknowledge every blessing that God has bestowed upon us and we are so very grateful for each of those blessings.
-We may have a job we don’t necessarily like but thank God that he has provided a job that will provide the finances that we need.
-We may not always like the church where we attend, or the sermons may not always be what we would like to hear, but thank God for a church where the Word of God is preached and where the Spirit of the Lord is allowed to move as he wills.
-And thank God for teachers and preachers who will falteringly expound on the Word of God, even when it makes us uncomfortable, for that is when it is doing what it is intended to do.
-We may not always agree with our loved ones but thank God for them.
-We may not always like the laws of our nation or its politics but thank God for a free country where we can worship.
-We may not always have the best of everything that is in the marketplace but thank God that he meets our needs.
-A heart that is in communion with Jesus Christ is going to be a thankful heart.
A man or woman who is living in communion with Jesus will never desire to grieve the Holy Ghost. We often find ourselves like Paul who says that he does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he wants to do when it comes to living for the Lord, but we do not take pleasure in living that way and our greatest desire is that we can and will be a useful vessel in God’s house and in God’s Kingdom.
We won’t sit in service and criticize the preacher, condemn those who are different from us, ignore the message that God has ordained should come forth, pass notes, talk to one another, interrupt the service continually with going in and out. I know that there are times when nature calls and you must get up and go out, but there are some who do so every 15 minutes and every service simply because it is a way to get out of sitting in our place. We can sit for 3 or 4 hours watching a movie or at a ball game and we force ourselves to wait until its over even if the urge comes but we don’t think enough of God’s house or the preaching of his Word to wait for 30 minutes until the service is over.
-I wonder how much communion there is in that?
-How often do we grieve the Holy Spirit and how often does the Spirit of the Lord not move in the midst of the church because we simply don’t care if he does or not? -How often do we prove that we despise, or dislike, or don’t care what the message from God’s Word is all about when we just get up in the middle of it and leave or walk out to go sit in another room where we can do our own thing?
There is no communion with God without reverencing his Holy Word that he has foreordained for you to hear. Perhaps there are some right now who are grieving the Holy Spirit or despising the Word of God. If so, then you need to repent of that attitude before you partake of the Lord’s Supper!
Those who are living in communion with Christ will examine every part of their lives to make sure that they are thinking and partaking only of those things that would be pleasing to the Lord.
One of the recent trends in Christian circles has the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets, sermons, etc. It seems that everywhere you go you will see bumper stickers or something with the letters WWJD on them. While it is a good thing to ask, “What Would Jesus Do”, the better question is, “Would Jesus Do what I’m Doing?” Would Jesus go to the movie that I went to last night? Would Jesus read the same books that I read? Would Jesus be listening to the same music I listen to? Would he laugh at the same jokes that I laugh about? Would he approve of the friends I hang around with or the places I go? Would I be just as comfortable doing them if Jesus was standing right beside me and watching every thing I do? Would he have been comfortable sitting in the back seat of my car while I was doing what I was in the front seat last night, or on the way to church, or perhaps he would have been in the front seat while you were in the back seat. Jesus is, after all, standing right there with you if he lives inside of you and you have communion with him. If we are to be in true communion with Christ we must abstain from every appearance of evil.
Being in communion with Jesus is more important than observing the Communion Ordinance. In fact, if you are not living in complete communion with him, then I would advise you to do one of two things. Either repent of your sin and get in right communion with Jesus before you partake of the Lord’s Supper, or, if you are unwilling to repent and change your ways and allow the Blood of Jesus to cleanse your sin, then please do not partake of the Lord’s Supper at all for to do so would place your life in jeopardy.
1 Corinthians 11:28-32, "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."
To partake of the Lord’s Supper with sin in your heart and an unrepentant and unregenerate soul is to say that the death of Jesus upon the cross and the shedding of his blood were meaningless. It is like saying that we don’t count the sacrifice that he made for us worth even remembering in the correct manner.
God will not hold you guiltless for that kind of thinking. In fact, Paul even says that God has chosen to remove some Christians from this life because they were so irreverent and uncaring concerning the observance of the Eucharist or Communion Ordinance. God treats this ordinance with a special respect since it commemorates the sacrifice and death of His only Son. How can we treat it with any less respect?
As we draw to the close of this message, I want us each to stop for a moment and take stock of our own heart. Examine yourselves, allow the Holy Spirit to reveal anything in you that is displeasing to God, judge yourselves so that God won’t have to judge you, and then repent of that thing and allow the Blood of Jesus to wash it away right now.
Let us all bow our heads in prayer before we come together to partake of the Lord’s Supper.
Now let us come together to observe this Holy Ordinance of Communion, recognizing the price that Jesus paid for us and signifying, by our participation, that we thank him for what he has done; that we are reverent for his sacrifice for us; and that we desire to identify with Jesus through his death upon the cross.
Distribute the bread and juice – and now let us read:
1 Corinthians 11:23-24, "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me."
1 Corinthians 11:25, "After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me."
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."
This is an ordinance of the church that must be observed to until the Second Coming of our Lord. At that time all ordinances shall cease, preachers will no more be needed, repentance for sin will no longer be necessary and all things will be reborn into perfection. Perhaps this will be the last time we will observe the Communion upon this earth. Maybe today will be the day that Jesus comes and our next communion will be with him face to face in the realms of glory.
But until that day, let us remain in communion with Jesus in every part of our daily lives. May the Lord go with you and may the Holy Spirit within you lead you into all truth. Amen.