Summary: This sermon discusses the reality of the Lord's Supper and how important it is.
April 5, 2012 Two Participations in the Supper: Judgment and Salvation
1 Corinthians 11:23-32 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
I. What is it?
Some people are experts at cooking and eating. When you start to talk about food, their eyes light up and they describe with great detail the texture of the food and the different ways that it was cooked and prepared. Drive-Ins, Diners and Dives is a TV show that goes into the under-belly of different restaurants across America and describes the way the food is prepared. That’s half the fun, seeing how the food is prepared. Just for the fun of it I tried to just drink fruit and vegetable juice for Lent. It lasted for a while, but when that show came on at about 10 o’clock at night, I finally gave in. The food looked so delicious I just couldn’t resist any more.
When we decide to eat somewhere we determine where we go based on what we’re hungry for and sometimes also based on whether we think it is good for us or not. Sometimes we throw caution to the wind and just eat what we want because it looks good and smells good. If we’re hungry enough and something smells good enough we’ll eat almost anything. Afterwards we then feel disgusting after having indulged a bit.
An odd and completely different approach is taken to the food and drink of the Lord's Supper. Instead of making a determination on whether the food and drink is good for us, we need to make a determination on whether we are worthy of eating the food and drink! It is such a completely different concept to even imagine. We figure, “If I killed it, I grew it, or I paid for it; then I can eat it. It’s my body. I can eat what I want.” The very nature of eating and drinking something and using it for our pleasure or our sustenance seems to come with the understanding that we are more important than it.
How can we even find such a mentality of whether we are “worthy of the food” to compare to today? Perhaps in the PETA activist who feels such strong compassion for the animal that he refuses to eat a hamburger. Many feel the animal is equal to the human, so they refuse to eat meat. Or perhaps you might compare this to when you go to an expensive restaurant and someone buys you a dish that is very expensive. You take your time with it and hesitantly eat it because it cost so much money.
Scripturally, you might look back to the example of the women in Samaria who were starving to death from an invasion. Two women made an agreement to kill and cook their sons. (2 Kings 6) After they ate the one woman’s son, the next day other woman decided not to kill her son (which tells me they must have been infants if the food from the first son only lasted a day). The women originally thought that their lives were more important than their children’s lives, so they decided to sacrifice them. Did they chew tentatively and regretfully as they ate the one son? Nonetheless, they had the power to kill their children, and one of the women did for her own survival.
The fact of the matter is that we really can’t find any comparison because in the Lord's Supper we receive the body and blood of Jesus. It is different than any other meal or exotic animal or even a human infant, because it is the body and blood of God made flesh. God didn’t just prepare it by slaughtering a lamb and cooking it on a spigot. He slaughtered His Son and put Him on a cross! This meal contains something more expensive than the rarest animal in the world; this is the body and blood of the One and Only God. It is both rare and yet plentiful. It is not like eating a dead hamburger of a cow having been fried in a pan. It is the living body and blood of the resurrected Christ that has not only been crucified but has also been raised from the dead. It has to be. Were it not, there would be no cautions in what we ate and drank. It has to be something more precious than us for us to consider whether WE are worthy to eat and drink it.