Summary: Exposition of 1 Cor 11:23-34 regarding the Supper
Text: 1 Corinthians 11:23-34, Title: Why the Lord’s Supper? Date/Place: NRBC, 7/20/08, PM
A. Opening illustration: The tomb of the unknown soldier at Arlington—a memorial
B. Background to passage: Paul had warned the Corinthians about divisions in the beginning of the letter, but moved on to discuss some of the questions and issues in the church from an individual standpoint. Beginning in ch. 11, Paul begins a section on the church and its operation continuing through ch. 14. After dealing with some gender issues in the first part of the chapter, he moves to dealing with some major problems with the Lord’s Supper. Exp early church love feasts. There were divisions, gluttony, selfishness, drunkenness, and other things that made a mockery of this sacred ordinance.
C. Main thought: The supper is a time when we remember the Lord’s sacrifice on our behalf, and we come humbly to the table acknowledging our sin and His perfection, proclaiming His death till He comes in a bond of unity with the rest of the body of Christ.
A. A Time of remembering the sacrifice (v. 23-26)
1. The first thing Jesus did was give thanks. The common loaf that was shared indicated a unity and common bond shared among the body of Christ. A visible sermon showing Christ’s death for sin, until He comes again. Note also the presence of Christ. It speaks of the new covenant prophesied by Jer 31. The word here is testament, in ancient Gr, it carried much meaning—it was the act of someone of His own free will distributing gifts upon others after His death, and it was usually conditional. This text also shows the temporary nature of this feast.
2. Matt 26:26-30, Isa 53:5-6, 2 Cor 5:18-21, Heb 9:12-15, 1 Pet 2:24
3. Illustration: A heart transplant recipient was asked one time if he ever thinks of the person who gave him the heart, that he died and all. And the response was that it was too hard to think of someone dying for you. Several years ago in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, George and Vera Bajenksi’s lives were changed forever. February 16, 1989. A very normal Thursday morning. The phone rang at 9:15 a.m. "There’s been an accident..." It involved their son Ben. As they approached the intersection of Adelaide and Simcoe Streets near the high school, they could see the flashing lights of the police cars and ambulance units. Vera noticed a photographer and followed the direction of his camera lens to the largest pool of blood she had ever seen. All she could say was, "George, Ben went home--home to be with his Heavenly Father!" Her first reaction was to jump out of the car, somehow collect the blood and put it back into her son. "That blood, for me, at that moment, became the most precious thing in the world because it was life. It was life-giving blood and it belonged in my son, my only son, the one I loved so much." The road was dirty and the blood just didn’t belong there. George noticed that cars were driving right through the intersection--right through the blood. His heart was smitten. He wanted to cover the blood with his coat and cry, "You will not drive over the blood of my son!" Then Vera understood for the first time in her life, one of God’s greatest and most beautiful truths...why blood? Because it was the strongest language God could have used. It was the most precious thing He could give-- the highest price He could pay. Through God’s amazing love we were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). May we never treat lightly nor trample underfoot the blood of God’s Son (Hebrews 10:29).
4. This should be a time of thanksgiving for the sacrifice that was made. We are also to do this in remembrance of Him. We should remember how He died and why He died, and what happened because He died. We should rejoice in the new covenant. My debt was paid by an innocent man. Meditate upon what it would be like to be a Muslim and have to do enough good, or upon the sinner who will pay for his sin eternally in hell. Know that that is what my sin deserved, and that was what was poured out upon Christ on the Cross.
B. A time of reexamining the saints (v. 27-32)
1. The word used here means for someone to be put on trial, or to examine for genuineness, to find out if one is approved, used of metals. However, this trial is not for a judgment from a jury of your peers, but an intense personal self-search of one’s own heart, looking for things that displease God. This is a time for confession, church discipline, repentance, and removal of things that disrupt the unity of the body and one’s relationship to Christ. This prevents the judgment that Paul says comes with not taking the supper worthily. Exp worthiness. Exp the judgment talked about here, and sickness and death. Exp the chastisement of the Lord. The supper is the continuation rite of the church, similar to baptism being the initiation rite.