Lord's Supper Service 8-25-2019
Series: Special Occasions
August 25, 2019
If you’ve been doing church a while, you know what this table up front with the silver bowls and such means. If you haven’t, you may be a little worried.
Don’t be. We are doing something today as the community of faith, as the gathered followers of Jesus here at Pleasant View FBC, that we do four times a year, and that’s celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Some folks call it communion. I prefer the Lord’s Supper because communion sounds a bit cultish and strange.
And if you’re much of a movie goer you know Communion is the name of an alien encounter movie starring Christopher Walken (Gracie?).
Before we celebrate the Lord’s Supper as the church, the community of faith, has done for 2,000 years, let me answer a few questions about it.
The first is Why?…
Why do we do it?
Often in the Christian life, when we try to explain why we do what we do or don’t do what we don’t do or believe what we believe, it takes quite a bit of effort. For example, when someone asks how we Christians can believe God is good when he allows all the suffering in the world, a one sentence response won’t cut it. That takes quite a bit of time and a knowledge of theology and philosophy.
Unfortunately, our lazy, unsatisfactory, go-to answer for pretty much any question — and certainly that one — is “because the Bible says so.” I am convinced God is not happy with that answer, at least when it comes to sharing his truths with a lost world. Folks who don’t yet trust the Bible’s truthfulness and power aren’t ready for that yet. Even the Apostle Paul, in Acts 17, refrained from using the Bible when sharing the gospel to a bunch of Greeks in Athens (Greece not Georgia).
But when it comes to why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. That is easy and can be answered in one sentence. To get there, though, let’s go back to the gospels, those accounts of Jesus’ life, where we discover that a few hours before the crucifixion, Jesus brought all the disciples together for what they thought was just another Passover meal.
The Passover meal is celebrated by Jews at the same time every year to this day. And they do it much the same way Jesus and His disciples did that night 2,000 years ago. The Passover meal reminded God’s chosen people, the Israelites, about what he’d done for them many, many 100s of years prior.
Moses was raised up to stand against pharaoh and demanded he “Let my people go!” The Israelites were enslaved at that time by a wicked ruler and were suffering. Pharaoh wouldn’t let God’s people go, so a series of plagues came down. The last, the tenth, was the worst. The firstborn of every household in Egypt would die unless the doorposts had the blood of a lamb applied. Those that did would be “passed over” by the angel of death, hence Passover.
I know that sounds awful and you may be wondering how we can celebrate the Lord’s Supper if it's related to all that. Hang in there. I’m going to address that later.
As I said, Jesus and the disciples had done this before, but what was special — in a tragic way — was this would be their last Passover meal together.
Luke 22:14–20 (ESV) — 14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
There’s one phrase in that text, words spoken by Jesus, that is the foundation for why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper:
Do this in remembrance of me.
The disciples took that to heart. When they gathered together they celebrated the Lord’s Supper to obey his command. And the church has been doing it ever since.
So the simple answer to why we do this is we do it because Jesus commanded us to.
Jesus said if we loved him we’d keep his commandments. I fail at that more than I’d ever care to admit, but when it comes to the Lord’s Supper I’m in. By participating in this I’m doing what he told me to do.
The second question I’d like to answer is What?
What does it do?
This has been a debate for a long time. Our friends in the Catholic church believe it’s necessary for salvation, that it carries some kind of saving grace.
I know that can’t be true because it would add a human work to the simple plan of God: saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. We’ve been talking about that on Wednesday nights in our Galatian study.
The Lord’s Supper doesn’t save us or make us more saved, but it does point us to the most important events in the history of the universe. Go back to our Luke text….
Luke 22:19–20 (ESV) — 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
- The bread is the symbol of His body hung on the cross.
- The fruit of the vine in the cup is the symbol of His blood spilled on the cross.
You see, a deliverer was raised up (Moses) and a lamb was slain to save God’s people from judgment back in Egypt. That made possible a covenant. The one given through Moses at Mt Sinai.
Jesus is the second Moses, a deliver raised up and slain as the lamb of God to save us all from judgment. With him comes a new covenant.
Going back to what I said earlier, I know all this blood covenant stuff seems archaic and maybe even barbarian. We are tempted to think that in the 21st century we have grown past all that.
Surely a God of love wouldn’t be about things like that, right?
This is a good time to be reminded that if God is God, by the very definition there will be things he does or requires that are beyond our ability to reconcile.
If we can figure God out, if he neatly and comfortably fits within the confines our understanding, then he’s not God. It makes sense that God won’t make sense to us, that he will challenge us, mystify us, and even make us angry.
I don’t understand fully why God’s covenants and the way he deals with sin involves such brutality, but I do know it highlights how serious and deadly sin is. And the lengths God goes to save us from it.
I’d be happy to talk more about that with any of you later. Let’s move on and answer our question What does the Lord’s Supper do?
The first thing it does is…
1.) Takes us to the foot of the cross, where Jesus worked his greatest miracle, something Paul glorified in when he wrote to the Colossian Christians…
Colossians 2:13–14 (ESV) — 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Jesus came and lived the life of perfect obedience that we couldn’t live, and died the death of payment for our sins we couldn’t pay.
The second thing it does is…
2.) Takes us to a coming day when Jesus returns…
1 Corinthians 11:26 (ESV) — 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
I love the irony in this verse. “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” He died but he isn’t dead! Jesus is coming back. Remember how he said in Luke 22…
15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
He was talking about that future day, The Last Day, when he returns to set all things right and usher us in to the what the Bible calls the New Heavens and Earth.
The third question I’d like to answer about the Lord’s Supper is the who.
Who is it for?
That one is easy too. It’s exclusively for Christians. Those who have believed in Jesus and received like a gift his living the life they should have lived and dying the death they should have died.
I know that sounds snobby and rude. I don’t mean for it to. Everyday we deal with a world that excludes for various reasons. Most of those reasons for excluding are bad, sinful even. I get that. But some aren’t. Some make sense.
Angie and I go to Sam’s to buy stuff in bulk (that woman is incapable of going by herself). The prices are amazing. But the privilege of being able to do that costs a membership fee. Imagine if they charged a fee but anybody could go in there and get what they wanted. That’s not fair.
The Lord’s Supper points to something so special — the crucifixion of Jesus, his resurrection, his return, and the new covenant sealed by his blood — it wouldn’t make sense for people who haven’t become a part of that to participate.
If you’re here today and haven’t done that yet, please don’t feel bad. We are so glad you’re here. You can let the bread and juice pass you by and don’t feel awkward about that at all. I pray God will use that to take you one step closer to surrendering.
But I’d like to know, depending on where you are on your faith journey, what would keep you from surrendering to Jesus today? To receiving like a gift his living the life you should have lived and dying the death you should have died?
In a few minutes there will be a time for you to respond to that.
The fourth and last question I’d like to answer is how?…
How do we prepare?
Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians…
1 Corinthians 11:27–28 (ESV) — 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
Even in the early church, just a few decades after Jesus and the disciples celebrated the first the Lord’s Supper, there were those who lost sight of its meaning. They took it lightly and abused what was supposed to be a precious time for God’s people.
Paul warned them and us to examine ourselves.
He wasn’t saying the Lord’s Supper is only for those walking in perfect fellowship, only for those not struggling with failures. Good heavens no.
Paul spoke of those who claimed to know Christ yet lived in open rebellion against Him. They weren’t convicted of or sorry for their sin. They came to the table callously.
If you are here today and there is failure, there is conviction and sorrow, the Lord’s Table is for you!
On the other hand, if you’re here today and you think you’re worthy to partake (as if you might be doing God a favor), you’re probably guilty of the mother of all sins: pride.
1 John 1:8–10 (ESV) — 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
We prepare today by examining ourselves and confessing our sins. By coming to the table boldly, but humbly.
Conclusion: Now you may be thinking…
I wish you would have told me about skipping God’s End Game today.
Actually, we aren’t. In a way, the Lord’s Supper is a celebration of God’s End Game all its own.
As Rob comes up and we prepare to have the Lord’s Supper, let me talk about what these next few minutes are…
- It’s a time to confess sin.
- To thank God for what He’s done in Jesus.
- To surrender to Jesus.
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