Summary: Since the first “last supper” there have been ever-expanding ramifications, waves if you please, of God’s grace extending to the world.
THE RIPPLE EFFECTS OF COMMUNION *
Sermon Objective: Since the first “last supper” there have been ever-expanding ramifications, waves if you please, of God’s grace extending to the world.
12On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, "Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?"
13So he sent two of his disciples … 16The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
17When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me."
19They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, "Surely not I?" … 22While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body."
23Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.
24"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,"
It’s just a ripple. It starts with an event; a stone thrown into the water, a droplet of dew from an over reaching branch, a paddle pushing through, or an earthquake under the ocean. It starts with an event but far surpasses the event itself. It has ever-expanding ramifications. Some effects are simple, innocent, and pleasant. Some wreak havoc by forming tsunamis that take lives by the hundreds and thousands.
Everything we do seems to leave ripples … waves caused by our event. We simply move and it affects the flow of air. Some of these ripples are, again, innocent and passing but some … well some have significant impact! Like:
• The ripple effects of how we treat one another
• The ripples of how we spend your time and money
• The ripples of receiving communion
Receiving communion has a ripple effect too. It began with the first “last supper” of Jesus and those waves are still expanding outward and still disrupting / altering everything it comes into contact with.
The final meal that Jesus held with His followers has multiple resonance meanings. It connects backward to the public ministry of Jesus and forward toward His death and the post-Easter life of His people.
Jesus’ last supper was to be the first supper of the future.
Today we will highlight three meanings … three ripple effects.
A CONTINUATION OF THE MEAL PRACTICE OF JESUS
Sometimes we miss the first ripple effect because it is so basic. This special meal was, first of all, a continuation of the meal practice of Jesus.
According to the Gospels, shared meals were one of the most distinctive features of Jesus’ public ministry. He often taught at meals, banquets were topics of His parables, and his practice was often criticized by his opponents.
Jesus’ practice at meals was scandalous and offensive to the good clean religious folk. They wanted him to be more scrutinizing and sanitized with his dinner partners (Mark 2:16; Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34; Luke 15:1-2). Instead he ate with the “undesireables”. The suspect and outcast of society (both literally and in his parables) were his choice companions.
It reminds me of the story about Mother Teresa of Calcutta who once slipped out of a banquet where she was an honored guest and ate with the help.
Jesus’ meal practice was about inclusion. The social boundaries he adhered to were established by “The Kingdom of God” and they pointed to a very different society. Even those present in this final meal were, in most cases, not preferred or acceptable people. Many (most) of them were peasants and would never be invited a meal with to a King. But with Jesus they would dine regularly.
Sometimes we identify uncomfortably close to the critics rather than the guests of this meal. We forget that, spiritually speaking, we are all peasants, sinners, undesireable, and unqualified; and yet we look over our glasses and ascertain that others eating the sacred meal with us are unfit for the occasion.
Let us never forget – you are never called to judge another’s worthiness for the meal … in fact, you will be judged for that. You are only charged to examine yourself.
1. A Continuation of the Meal Practice of Jesus
AN ECHO OF THE FEEDING OF THE FIVE THOUSAND
There is another ripple effect that moves out in ever-expanding waves from the meal. It has echoes of the feeding of the five thousand.
When Mark tells the story of the last supper he uses four verbs to describe what Jesus did; took, blessed, broke, and gave.