Summary: This sermon looks at the origin and nature of the Lord’s Supper, its place in the early Church, and it importance to the Church today.
The Lord’s Supper I Cor. 10:23-34
INTRO.: Illus.: "Giving Blood" Priscilla Larson writes, "My brother-in-law, who is a minister, responded to a Red Cross appeal for blood donations. When he didn’t come home by the time his young son expected him, the boy asked his mother, ‘Is Dad going around visiting all the sick people?’ His mother replied, ‘He’s giving blood.’ To which the boy said, ‘But we know it’s really grape juice, don’t we, Mom?’" SOURCE: Ed Rowell, editor. "Humor for Preaching and Teaching," p. 41.
In some minds, there is great mystery connected with the observance of Communion or the Lord’s Supper. Maybe this message will help clear up some of the questions you may have. We will discuss the origin and nature of the Lord’s Supper, its place in the early Church, and its importance today.
I. The origin and nature of the Lord’s Supper vv. 23-25
A. ILLUS.: the dying request of Joseph: Gen. 50:22-26 & Exod. 13:19
1. Joseph had spent most of his life in Egypt and longed for his homeland. He wished to be buried there.
2. His brothers made the oath to do so, but Moses buried him there hundreds of years later. Moses was not bound by the oath.
3. But, the request of a dying man is to be honored over all obstacles.
B. This memorial was one of Jesus’ last requests of His disciples.
1. Not long afterward, He is crying out to God in Gethsemane and is arrested, tried, and murdered.
2. How can we ignore one of the last requests of the Savior?
3. This is how He wants to be remembered: a broken body, spilt blood, a sacrifice for others
C. Paul emphasizes this was given by Jesus Himself.
1. Not from angel, prophet, teacher, or Apostle.
2. Paul writes, "I received it from the Lord."
3. What could be more important to a Christian than a request from Jesus Himself?
II. Its place in the early Church
A. The early Church observed the Supper with great frequency:
1. It pictured His death, the event they considered most important. Matt. 26:26-28
2. Object Lesson: "This is My body" "This is my blood" - hold up picture and say, "These are my grandchildren." Actually, it is only a picture of them. So it is when Jesus says, "This is . . ."
3. They devoted themselves to breaking of bread, along with Apostles teaching, fellowship, prayer. Acts 2:42
4. Later, it seems they observed it each first day of the week. Acts 20:7
B. It was one important means of proclaiming the Lord’s death to others. I Cor. 11:26
1. Not as graphic as Mel Gibson’s portrayal of the passion, but graphic enough to remind us.
2. Symbolism is seen in the breaking of bread, pouring of wine. As Jesus gives the memorial, He breaks the bread, pours the wine.
3. Each time they met, unbelievers were present. This witnessed to them in a graphic way.
C. Sometimes abused. 17-22
1. Apparently observed as part of a fellowship meal, a "love feast." this was the occasion for abusing the poor.
2. The extent of their abuse is seen in I Cor. 11:17-22
3. The Apostle writes very strongly against abuse. I Cor. 11:17, 29, 30
III. Its. Importance today.
A. Reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice
1. We still need an occasional reminder of what we owe to Jesus.
2. We still need to honor His dying wish to be remembered.
3. We come to remember Jesus. It’s appropriate we remember Him in the way He asked.
B. Who should partake?
1. There is always a question who should have communion. Some think only baptized believers. There is no clear Biblical guideline.
2. Of course, it is especially intended for Christians. It’s a "participation" or "communion" in the body and blood of Jesus. I Cor. 10:16, 17
3. How we partake is more important than age or whether one is a Christian. I believe anyone sincerely wishing to remember Jesus is welcomed by God.
C. Its place in our services.
1. There are those who want to remove it. They say the emphasis on blood offends "seekers," those we used to call sinners.
2. It is still a powerful testimony to the sacrifice of Jesus and the love of God Who sent Him.
3. More than ever, we need a reminder of these things.
CONC.: ILLUS.: "The Greatest Tool We Have"
THE GREATEST TOOL WE HAVE
Some congregations, I understand, have even dropped the communion service from the regular morning worship hour, just inviting those who wish to partake to go to another room for the Lord’s Supper after the service or serving it during the week. The reasoning, I’m told, is that the strange practice of taking the loaf and cup frightens away "seekers" (formerly known as sinners).