In the New Testament era, Roman soldiers were required, in as far as it was possible, to return to Rome once a year from wherever they were garrisoned to renew their oath of allegiance to the Emperor. The soldiers—regardless of the nation they considered home—were to salute the Roman colors from time to time or be guilty of treason.
It strikes me, that the Lord’s Supper is essentially our renewed oath of allegiance to the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. When Jesus took the bread, and took the cup and said, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me,” (Luke22:19), he was establishing a memorial that the Church was to continue until He returns. Attendance at the Lord’s Supper is the Christian’s salute to the blood-stained banner of the Savior.
Next Sunday our congregation will participate in the Lord’s Supper. As you know, it’s a Sunday I do not preach a message because the Lord’s Supper is the message. But it behooves us, from time-to-time, to examine what the Bible says about the Lord’s Supper. This morning, I’d like to take a few moments to talk to you about some of the spiritual elements of the Lord’s Supper.
I. THE LORD’S SUPPER CELEBRATES OUR UNION WITH CHRIST
- the Bible teaches us that we participate in the Lord’s Supper because we have received grace – not to get grace
- the bread and the cup contain no mystical or saving properties
- when you were born again, you got all the grace you’ll ever need in this life or the life to come
- God does not divi out His grace piece-meal through various church ritess or religious ritual
- when I ask a deacon to bless the cup, when he’s done praying – it’s still juice
- when I hold the bread up and invite you to eat it in remembrance of the Christ – it’s still bread
- the spiritual significance of communion for the believer is three-fold ...
- first, the believer is being obedient to the will of His Savior when they eat the bread and drink the cup—Jesus said, Do this ... it’s a command
- second, the believer is worshiping the Savior when they eat the bread and drink the cup—Jesus said, Do this in remembrance of me ...
- third, the believer is anticipating the second coming of the Lord—Jesus said, Do this in remembrance of me until I come again
- that’s it – the bread and the cup contain no mystical or saving properties
- when you received Christ in repentance and faith, God covered your life with the blood of His Son, and credited your spiritual account with the righteousness of Jesus Christ
- “The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:23–25, NIV)
- “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV)
- ILLUS. The ancient legend of the Holy Grail tells how Joseph of Arimathea, who got permission from Pilate to take the body of Jesus down from the cross and bury it, caught in a golden cup, the blood which flowed from the wound in our Savior’s side. The legend says that this was the same cup that Jesus had held at the Last Supper. Joseph of Arimathea then carried it Glastonbury, on an island in Somerset in England. There he formed an order of Knights whose work it was to protect the cup and the precious blood it contained. The bravest of these knights was made their king. At certain times the king unveiled the golden cup that held the precious blood, at which times a glorious and radiant light fell on the faces of all who stood about, filling them with rapture and enduing them with strength from on high. Only the pure in heart could look upon the cup and behold the wondrous light which streamed from the precious blood.
- the question is, What are you preaching?
- I m glad you asked, let me tell you
- you are acclaiming your faith in the death, burial & resurrection of Christ
- you are proclaiming that Jesus is Lord of your life
- you are reclaiming your hope in being glorified with Christ
A. YOU ARE ACCLAIMING YOUR FAITH IN THE DEATH, BURIAL & RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
- the word acclaim means to praise enthusiastically in a public way
- when the believer participates in the Lord’s Supper, he is unashamedly telling everyone around him, “Praise the Lord, I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. He was crucified. He was buried, but he rose again. This is the core of my faith and I don’t care who knows it!”
- ILLUS. One of the better contemporary hymns of our day is, "I'll Tell the World That I'm a Christian." The first verse rings out ... "I'll tell the world that I'm a Christian – I'm not ashamed His name to bear; I'll tell the world that I'm a Christian – I'll take Him with me anywhere. I'll tell the world how Jesus saved me, And how He gave me a life brand new; And I know that if you trust Him, That all He gave me, He'll give to you. I'll tell the world that He's my Savior, No other one could love me so; My life, my all is His forever, And where He leads me, I will go."
- “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16, NIV)
- you know the story – it is rich in symbolic meaning for us
- during that original Passover in Egypt, each Jewish family was commanded to sacrifice a lamb
- they drained its blood and applied it to their door mantels in anticipation of God’s judgment upon Egypt
- the evening came and with it the angel of the Lord went throughout the land smiting the firstborn of every home that was not protected by the blood
- the blood represented deliverance from bondage that comes only from God
- Jesus communicates to his disciples that he is going to be the Passover Lamb
- he is the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world
- just as when the death angel passed over the homes with the blood on the door posts, so to does God pass over us in His righteous judgment when He sees the blood of the Lamb of God in our lives
B. YOU ARE PROCLAIMING THAT JESUS IS LORD OF YOUR LIFE
- “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4–5, NIV)
- all believers are worthy to participate in the Lord’s Supper not because of who you are, but because of whose you are
- once we were dead in trespasses and sin, but now you have been made alive in Christ
- because we are alive in Christ we are worthy in the sight of God
- 1 Cor. 11:27 has always caused some difficulty for some believers
- the word unworthy is an adverb and describes the way that some believers in the Corinthian Church celebrated the Lord’s Supper
- ILLUS. In the early church, the Lord’s Supper was celebrated by the congregation coming together for a supper. In the church at Corinth this time of fellowship and worship had degenerated into an excuse for gluttony, drunkenness and self-centeredness.
- it gives you an idea of what was going on at the church in Corinth
- "And then I find that you bring your divisions to worship—you come together, and instead of eating the Lord’s Supper, 21 you bring in a lot of food from the outside and make pigs of yourselves. Some are left out, and go home hungry. Others have to be carried out, too drunk to walk. I can’t believe it! 22 Don’t you have your own homes to eat and drink in? Why would you stoop to desecrating God’s church? Why would you actually shame God’s poor? I never would have believed you would stoop to this. And I’m not going to stand by and say nothing. 23 Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord’s Supper and why it is so centrally important. ... " (1 Cor. 11:20-23, The Message)
- to partake of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner means ...
- ... to have a divisive attitude toward others in the church
- ... to discriminate against other members of the body of Christ (i.e. do you only fellowship with your own kind?)
- ... to become board with the routine of Communion and fail to ponder its significance every time you participate
- that mean we ought to let Jesus be Lord
C. YOU ARE RECLAIMING YOUR HOPE IN BEING GLORIFIED WITH CHRIST
- “Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”” (Matthew 26:27–29, NIV)
- the Lord’s Supper is a memorial that not only looks back to Christ’s substitutionary atonement, but forward to His glorious appearing
- the Apostle Paul said the partaking of the Lord’s Supper proclaims the Lord’s death till he comes again
- in earliest Christianity the Lord’s Supper was pervaded by intense eschatological expectation
- Jesus Christ is coming again and He’s coming for all those who faithfully confess his name in this world
II. THE LORD’S SUPPER CELEBRATES OUR UNION WITH EACH OTHER
- “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” (1 Corinthians 10:17, NIV)
A. THE LORD’S SUPPER ASSERTS THAT THE BODY OF CHRIST IS A FAMILY
- we is all related
- someone once said that you can pick your friends, but you’re stuck with family
- you may not have to like me, but ya gotta love me
- and you’ve got to love each other, too
- the early church was a fellowship of genuine love and affirmation
- “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:2–3, NIV)
B. THE LORD’S SUPPER ASSERTS THAT WE HAVE UNITY OF SPIRIT AND PURPOSE
- Paul urged the Corinthian believers to be like-minded
- “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” (1 Corinthians 1:10, NIV)
- they have seen us fuss and feud and fight far too often
- ILLUS. Years ago in another community, I had a Methodist lady tell me, “I just love to watch you Baptists. You’re better than Saturday night wrestling!”
- we can smile at that, but it ought to make us weep
- we just beat each other silly with it
- they need to see lives transformed by Christ, and personal agendas and pet programs laid aside for the sake of unity in Christ
- ILLUS. Just after Linda and I became engaged, my mother sat me down and told me that when a young man gets married, that he not only marries the girl, but her entire family. I didn’t totally understand what she meant until I got married. You know what? She was right! Now, I’ve got super in-laws. I can’t imagine anyone who would not be thrilled to be a part of Linda’s family.
- I think the sinero explains why a lot of lost people are lost and why so many professing Christians don’t go to church anymore
- it’s not because they don’t love the bridegroom, Jesus Christ
- it’s the bride’s family they often can’t stand!
- who wants to be part of a family where love or endearment is never expressed, but instead you’re constantly belittled or snipped at?
- it means working at loving each other when the other person is sometimes unlovely
- just as a devisive spirit will kill a marriage and destroy a family so a devisive spirit will eventually kill and destroy the church
- neither will dynamic personalities will not fill our churches
- neither will programs will not fill our churches
- neither will evangelistic campaigns will not fill our churches
- do you know what will fill our churches?
- when we love people into our congregation
- ILLUS. The secret of the early Christian Church in reaching the world with its faith was the fellowship of love. This fellowship transformed a band of Galilean men in an upstairs room in Jerusalem into a body that in less than twenty years was being described in distant Macedonia as turning the world upside down, (Acts 17:6). And within three hundred years the Roman Empire which at first persecuted these people called Christians acknowledged this fellowship as the religion of the empire.
Conclusion: Within nearly every household are mementos that recall experiences, trips, friends, and
family: a bulging photo album, heirlooms from relatives long since gone, or an odd assortment of worthless knickknacks with priceless memories. We keep these mementos, not for their extrinsic value, but for the emotional pictures they pique within us of people, places, and events.Keepsakes are meant to evoke emotional memories and fond recollections. They spark tears of joy or sorrow, thoughts of happy times or difficult events. These are the types of memories that Jesus had in mind when He gave His followers the mementos of bread and wine.
“This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. . . . This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me,”