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Summary: A study of the Lord's Supper, instructing the assembly as to what we are doing.

“I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.” [1]

The ordinances of the church too often have become battlegrounds between the churches. Gravely misunderstood as we move through this third millennium since our Saviour’s Advent, these church rites are frequently twisted to fit the fertile imaginations of mortal minds. Too often these rites have been stretched to meet our biases instead of moulding us to fit the Lord’s ideal. Surely it is time that we who name the Name of Christ return to the ideals of the New Testament in our observance of these ordinances. Surely we who instruct are required to provide sound instruction.

You well know quite well that the ordinances of the church are two. The initial ordinance is baptism, which is administered to those who have received Christ as Master of their life and as a testimony of their transformation. We cannot, then, baptise infants or those who are incapable of confessing faith in Christ, but rather we baptise those who have by faith accepted His sacrifice in their place. The continuing ordinance is the Communion Meal. Called to by various terms (Communion, the Lord’s Supper, or The Eucharist), the ordinance was delivered to the churches to be observed on a continuing basis. It is the Lord’s Supper, since the Lord gave the ordinance and since He is the One who determines who is invited to the meal. It is the Communion Meal since it is a declaration of fellowship or communion of believers—communion both with one another and communion with the Lord Jesus. It is the Eucharist, the Meal of Thanksgiving, as we give thanks for the love of God and rejoice in our freedom from condemnation in Him.

Join me this morning in a brief examination of this second ordinance, the continuing ordinance, the Lord’s Supper. To accomplish the stated aim of gaining an understanding of the Lord’s will, I invite you to open your Bible to Paul’s first letter to the Church of God in Corinth. As I have often stated on the Communion Sunday, Corinth was a congregation that had severely distorted the observance of the Communion Meal, thus inviting the rebuke of God’s Apostle. Fortunately for us, the rebuke Paul delivered serves to instruct us so that we may know how to please the Lord as we worship.

THE ORIGIN OF THE OBSERVANCE — “I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you” [1 CORINTHIANS 11:23a]. Paul hearkens back to the institution of the Meal. The Lord’s Supper originated in God’s direction to His people concerning the manner in which they should worship the Christ. We have in this meal an ordinance given by the Risen Son of God Himself. It is vital that we observe it according to His directions if we seek to honour Him. He has informed us what He expects as we come to this time of worship. We must not imagine that we can craft some new observance and honour Him.

The meal has roots in the Passover. It was at the conclusion of His final Passover observance that our Lord would celebrate with the disciples that He instituted a new observance. Matthew writes, “As they were eating…” [MATTHEW 26:26]. The disciples would have known by heart the ritual associated with the Pascal Meal. Every Jew from earliest childhood watched this ritual and each was instructed in its significance. They did not often, however, realise that the ritual was pointing forward to the final Passover; and it is that one great sacrifice which we have in view in the Communion Meal.

On one occasion I worked with a Jewish Evangelism Team in the city of San Francisco. While visiting the homes of Jewish people in the city, I knocked on one door and having introduced myself, I asked if the family was Jewish. The man pointed to the mezuzah on the door and proudly affirmed that he was Jewish. Since the Passover was approaching at that time, I asked if he had a lamb.

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