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Summary: A SERMON ON THE MEANING OF COMMUNION

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TAKING THE BREAD AND CUP

1 CORINTHIANS 11:23-34

SOMETIMES IT’S IMPORTANT FOR US TO LOOK TO THE REASON WHY WE CELEBRATE COMMUNION AND IT’S MEANING. IT IS A GREAT SYMBOLIC REMINDER OF THE LOVE AND GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. WHAT WE REMEMBER IS THAT GOD WANTS A RELATIONSHIP WITH US AND TO HAVE THAT RELATIONSHIP WITH US THE PROBLEM OF SIN HAD TO BE DEALT WITH, WHICH IT WAS ON THE CROSS. JESUS KNEW THAT THE CROSS WAS INVOLVED IN SALVATION EVEN BEFORE THE CREATION OF TIME.

THINK FOR A MOMENT ABOUT THE WORDS OF JOHN CHAPTER ONE:

JOHN 1:1-2,:

IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD, AND THE WORD WAS WITH GOD, AND THE WORD WAS GOD. 2 HE WAS WITH GOD IN THE BEGINNING.

THE WORD BECAME FLESH AND MADE HIS DWELLING AMONG US. WE HAVE SEEN HIS GLORY, THE GLORY OF THE ONE AND ONLY SON, WHO CAME FROM THE FATHER, FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH

JOHN WAS TELLING US THAT BEFORE THE CREATION OF TIME, IT WAS DECIDED THAT GOD WOULD TAKE ON HUMAN FORM AND DWELL AMONG US. WE WOULD REALIZE THAT HE LIVED A SINLESS LIFE, FACE A MERCILESS DEATH AND VICTORIOUS RESURRECTION, ALL FOR THE GOOD NEWS OF SALVATION.

COMMUNION STANDS AS GOD’S PERSONAL REMINDER TO US OF THE COST OF OUR SALVATION. IT ALSO STANDS AS A REMINDER AS TO HOW MUCH GOD LOVES US AND WANTS A RELATIONSHIP WITH US.

TODAY AS WE COME TO THE COMMUNION TABLE THIS PASSAGE TEACHES US TO EXAMINE OUR HEARTS AND OUR MOTIVATION AS WE COME TO THE TABLE. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO COME TO THE TABLE IN AN UNWORTHY MANNER?

ONE THING IS CLEAR, COMING TO THE LORD’S TABLE HELPS US TO KEEP OUR CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION IN PROPER PERSPECTIVE. THERE IS AN UNBREAKABLE CONNECTION BETWEEN CHRISTMAS AND EASTER THAT HELPS MAKE SENSE OF BOTH. YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER.

THIS MORNING AS WE COME TO THE TABLE, LETS LOOK CLOSELY TO PAUL’S TEACHING TO THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH, FOR A DEEPER MEANING TO THE BREAD AND CUP.

CONTEXT:

THE CONTEXT OF THIS PASSAGE IS WHAT IS CALLED THE SEDER MEAL. IT IS THE PASSOVER MEAL THAT THE ISRAELITES ATE ON THE NIGHT THE ANGEL OF DEATH PASSED OVER THEIR HOMES. A NUMBER OF SPECIAL FOODS WERE EATEN, EACH WITH SYMBOLIC MEANING, AND AS MANY AS FOUR CUPS WERE USED IN THE MEAL. WE READ ABOUT THE PASSOVER MEAL IN OUR RESPONSIVE READING TODAY.

THIS PASSAGE WAS NOT AT THE TIME OF PASSOVER, BUT IT DID INVOLVE A SPECIAL MEAL CALLED AN AGAPE OR LOVE FEAST. THIS WAS A VERY SPECIAL OCCASION. RICH AND POOR WOULD TAKE PART IN IT. FOR THOSE POOR OR INFIRMED THIS MAY BE THE ONLY MEAL OF SUBSTANCE THEY WOULD HAVE FOR THE WEEK.

IT HAD A POTLUCK TYPE OF ATMOSPHERE TO IT. EACH FAMILY WOULD BRING FOOD AND WINE FOR THE MEAL. THE PROBLEM THE CORINTHIANS FACED IS THAT THE RICH PEOPLE WOULD BRING THEIR FOOD FIRST, WHILE THE POOR WERE STILL AT WORK, OR ENROUTE TO THE MEAL. THE RICH WOULD EAT THE BEST FOOD FIRST, DRINK THE BEST WINE TO THE POINT OF INTOXICATION. WHEN THE POOR PEOPLE WOULD ARRIVE THERE WAS LITTLE OF ANYTHING LEFT. THEY WOULD THEN COME TO THE LORD’S TABLE.

PAUL WAS DETERMINED TO PUT AN END TO THIS PRACTICE. HE KNEW IF PEOPLE HAD A PROPER UNDERSTANDING OF THE MEANING OF COMMUNION, THAT THIS PRACTICE WOULD NOT CONTINUE.

PAUL STARTS OUT BY IDENTIFYING THE AUTHORITY BE WHICH HE SPEAKS. THIS MESSAGE IS NOT FROM HIMSELF BUT DIRECTLY FROM THE LORD, AND HE IS PASSING IT ONTO THEM.

THIS SHOULD BE THE STANDARD FOR EVERY PERSON WHO STANDS BEHIND THE PULPIT TODAY. OUR THOUGHTS AND WORDS MUST BE DIRECTLY FROM THE LORD, AND WE SPEAK THEM UNDER THE SPIRIT’S INSPIRATION. THERE HAVE BEEN TIMES, WHERE I HAVE FELT THAT THE MESSAGE I HAD PREPARED WAS NOT THE ONE GOD WANTED ME TO GIVE AT THAT TIME. IT DOESN’T OCCUR OFTEN, BUT IT CAN HAPPEN, USUALLY AFTER A SIGNIFICANT INCIDENT IN THE WORLD OR IN THE CHURCH.

PSALM 19:14: MAY THESE WORDS OF MY MOUTH AND THIS MEDITATION OF MY HEART BE PLEASING IN YOUR SIGHT, LORD, MY ROCK AND MY REDEEMER.

POINT ONE: THE BREAD:

PAUL THEN MOVES INTO THE STATEMENT JESUS MADE ABOUT THE BREAD. THE WORDS USED BY PAUL CLOSE TO 2000 YEARS AGO, ARE THE SAME WORDS THAT WE USE TODAY, FOR THE SAME SYMBOLIC MEANING.

THE FACT THAT JESUS TOOK THE BREAD AND BROKE IT IS OF LITTLE SIGNIFICANCE. HOSTS CUSTOMARILY BROKE THE BREAD FOR THEIR GUESTS.

MARK 6:41: TAKING THE FIVE LOAVES AND THE TWO FISH AND LOOKING UP TO HEAVEN, HE GAVE THANKS AND BROKE THE LOAVES. THEN HE GAVE THEM TO HIS DISCIPLES TO DISTRIBUTE TO THE PEOPLE. HE ALSO DIVIDED THE TWO FISH AMONG THEM ALL.

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