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Summary: What is the significance of communion for me personally?

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Iliff & Saltillo UM Churches

October 5, 2003

“The Significance of Communion in the 21st Century”

Luke 22:17-20

INTRODUCTION: There is a story told of a little church that had an unusual ritual every Sunday morning. When they sang the Gloria Patri they stood, turned to the right facing a blank white wall and sang. Every Sunday without fail they did this. A newcomer to the church was puzzled by this and asked, “Why do you do this?” No one knew. The only answer they could come up with was, “we’ve always done it this way.” That answer did not satisfy the newcomer. Other people were asked the same question. Finally an elderly man who had gone to church longer than anyone else remembered the reason. It seems that at one time they didn’t have hymnals and the words to this song were painted on the large white wall. Everyone stood, turned to the right facing the wall and sang.

Over the years the words faded and the wall was repainted numerous times yet no one remembered the significance for standing and turning toward the wall.

Often we lose the real significance of why we do certain things such as partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Just what is the significance of communion for us in the 21st century? We live in a fast-paced technological society where we rush through our days failing to look back at the reasons why. We just go through the motions and go on to something else. We don’t often stop to think about the meaning behind things that are a part of our worship. It’s always been DONE THAT WAY. Can we give an explanation for it?

Today on World Communion Sunday let’s see what we can get out of today’s scripture.

1. Understanding the History of the Lord’s Supper: In Luke chapter 22 the traditional Passover was approaching and Jesus’ disciples had made preparation for the occasion. The Passover was a Jewish festival commemorating their exodus from Egypt. It was repeated annually. The bread and the wine were traditional parts of the Passover. They understood this, but Jesus gave these elements new meaning.

In verse 14 he said, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” The reason why this was so important to Him was that He was ready to go to the cross and He was going to use the bread and the wine to explain the significance of what he was about to do on the cross. He used things that they were already familiar with to lead them into a new spiritual dimension. The Passover was under the Old Covenant, but Jesus’ death on the cross seals a New Covenant between God and people. The Old Covenant involved forgiveness of sins through the blood of animal sacrifices. In the New Covenant or agreement between God and man, Jesus, Himself, would become the Lamb of God and die on the cross in place of sinners. John the Baptist who was the forerunner of Jesus, “cried out Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).

His blood would be effective in removing the sins of all who placed their faith and trust in Him because He is God. Jesus sacrifice would not have to be repeated over and over again. It would be good for all eternity.

ILLUSTRATION: When Walter and I would go somewhere on the motorcycle, I would always pray and ask the Lord to protect us on the highways. But I was always apprehensive about how long did this prayer last. Was it effective for the round trip or did I need to pray again before starting home?

Walter would always say, “It’s effective until the minute before you go in the ditch.”

So usually I prayed before I started out--I prayed throughout the ride--and I prayed again when I started home. Well, doesn’t the Bible say, “Pray without ceasing?

This new covenant was to be an “everlasting one” effective for all time (Hebrews 9:22-28).

God wasn’t going to change his mind.

ILLUSTRATION: A sign on an airline executive’s desk in Chicago said, “Don’t bother to agree with me: I’ve already changed my mind.”

God is not like that.

Jesus was drawing from their knowledge of the past--the Passover and the old sacrificial system to open up their eyes and understanding of the significance of a new everlasting covenant or agreement. This new covenant was prophesied in the Old Testament. One account was in Jeremiah 31:31 where the prophet looked forward to the time when the new covenant would fulfill the old sacrificial agreement.

“The time is coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt” (Jeremiah 31:31-32).

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