Summary: During the Lord’s Supper, there’s something spiritual that is happening between you and me and Christ.
Outline and Manuscript:
I. Understanding the Lord’s Supper
II. How We Dishonor the Lord’s Supper
As we learned last week, the Corinthians are segregated and selfish—and they’re not bothered by any of it. They hold public worship services and have the Lord’s Supper, but Paul says when you’re doing it, you’re not doing it. Paul says you can call it the Lord’s Supper, you can say its worship but it’s not because the way you’re going about it dishonors the Lord and your brother.
As we get started this morning, let me ask you two questions:
1. When we have the Lord’s Supper, is there something spiritual and powerful happening between you and Christ. (The answer is an obvious, I think most of us would say that we sense a deep connection to Christ during the Lord’s Supper).
2. But what about your brother? Is there anything spiritual happening during the Lord’s Supper between you and other believers in this room? (That’s not a question we often consider, we tend to view the Lord’s Supper as personal, just “me and Jesus,” but its bigger than that!)
Main Idea: Here’s my thesis for my message today: During the Lord’s Supper, there’s something spiritual that is happening between you and me and Christ.
Introduction: At the Last Supper, just before His trial and crucifixion, Jesus ate bread and drank wine with His disciples, two elements that would stand as symbols of the new covenant established in His blood. After that night, the Last Supper was transformed into the Lord’s Supper—a perpetual act of worship that His people would observe regularly until Jesus returns.
Did the Corinthians not understand this? Did they look at the bread and wine and go, “I can’t remember…what does these represent?” No, they understood the vertical aspect of the Lord’s Supper: Jesus died for their sins to reconcile them to God. What they failed to esteem in this context is the horizontal dimension to the Lord’s Supper—that there’s something spiritual happening between you and me and Christ.
So let me set this up…whether we fully understand it or embrace it, Christ has called His people to be a part of a local church and live in community together. We’re not called to merely “go to church” but to cultivate love for Christ and each other. And when we observe the Lord’s Supper, it’s not an act of worship meant to be done in isolation, but a congregational act of worship. In addition to the Lord’s Supper, there are so many NT instructions that are intended to be exercised by believers participating in worship together. Some examples: We admonish one another. We confess our faults to one another. We restore one another. We are longsuffering and patient with one another. And the list goes on and on…
When it comes to a professing Christian’s involvement with the church, often Christians ask the wrong questions: “Do I have to go to church to be a Christian?” (Asked in a way that’s on level with asking the dentist, “Do I have to get a root canal or can you just pull the tooth?) Or, they think of church in terms of personal fulfillment: “I get more out of watching “so-n-so preacher” on TV than going to church. Or, “I get a greater worship experience out of sitting on my front porch with a cup of coffee and being alone with God and His creation.”
Maybe these are true, but these conclusions miss the point. They never ask the Author of the Church what He wants! Isn’t it reasonable that we should seek the desires of Christ above our own? Another way to say this: Does the Lord of the Church and its Supper get His preferences over ours?
Illustration: When C. S. Lewis became a Christian, he thought he could take Jesus but leave out the church. In his book, God in the Dock, he says:
My own experience is that when I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn't go to the churches and Gospel Halls; and then later I found that it was the only way of flying your flag; and, of course, I found that this meant being a target. If there is anything in the teaching of the New Testament which is in the nature of a command, it is that you are obliged to take the Sacrament and you can't do it without going to Church. I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren't fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit." God in the Dock, pp. 61-62.