Lord's Supper Service • 10-4-2020

Series: Special Occasions

October 04, 2020
Brad Shockley

Episode Notes

Lord’s Supper Service

Thanks for joining. Be sure and get your communion kits ready or juice and crackers as we take a break from the IN Between Years study today. 

We will jump back in the week after next because I start a week of vacation tomorrow. We’ve got a very special guest preaching next Sunday: Dr. Byron Spradlin, President, Artists in Christian Testimony Intl.

Our own Dr. Sam Creed will lead the Wednesday night Bible study.

If you’re joining us online be sure to have your communion kits ready. Or just grab some crackers and juice.

Well, as we prepare to celebrate the Lord’s Supper for the last time in 2020, we can’t help but think about how much we want to get this year behind us.

2020 has just been brutal, and it’s not over. Life is already hard enough, but this. This is CRUSHING.

People are being crushed physically with bad health or mounting medical bills from COVID. 

People are being crushed emotionally from the loss of loved ones to this virus.

People are being crushed financially from the economic fallout the pandemic has caused, as well as other disasters like wildfires and hurricanes.

People are being crushed mentally from the isolation and worry and uncertainty happening right now.

People are being crushed relationally with all the division over politics and current issues. 

People are being crushed spiritually over the injustices and unfair stereotyping running rampant. That’s nothing new, of course, but it seems to be magnified in 2020.

Because we are being crushed so hard, we need to celebrate. No, you didn’t hear me wrong. More than ever, we need to celebrate. Not celebrate in a throw-an-end-of-the-worldparty kind of way, but celebrate the way Christians have been doing so for 2,000 years.

You’ve probably guessed I’m talking about the Lord’s Supper. This may surprise you, but celebrating the Lord’s Supper in the middle of this crushing season is so amazingly appropriate. Today, as we prepare to do just that, you’ll see why.

Now you probably know we celebrate the Lord’s Supper because Jesus commanded us to. Three of the four gospels record the last night Jesus spent with his disciples where he said “do this in remembrance of me”…

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.  Luke 22:14–20 (ESV) 

Jesus includes two particulars in this celebration of remembrance: wine (fruit of the vine) and bread.

Think about what it takes to get wine. It’s a process not for the faint of heart, horticulturally speaking.

Making wine is romantic and glamorous if you’re a vintner, but not if you’re a grape. One author, curious about how wine was made, researched the process and discovered… 

…that the best wine requires grapes from vines which have faced harsh conditions including a careful calibration of water. Neglected vines that have plenty of water often concentrate their energy on spreading out and producing leaves. They produce little fruit. They may look beautiful and leafy, but they are not truly flourishing. Well-tended vines, restricted and with little water, produce plentiful grapes. Their fruit becomes intense, having battled for every hard won nutrient they’ve devoured. 

Did you get that? Neglected vines are the ones that have an abundance of water. The well tended ones have it withheld.

The vines are then vigorously pruned, often cut back to the bare trunk. The best wineries know how critical this is to good fruit, while amateurs often are hesitant to do this radical work. It seems unnecessary. The expert vinedresser intimately knows what the vines and grapes have already endured but is also willing to do the radical pruning that is essential for future growth and flourishing. He knows what pruning is essential to produce luscious fruit, the critical element in fine wine that is rich and deep.  

Yet before they become wine, these grapes enter into the next step of the process: the crushing. Here the grapes are met with intense pressing to squeeze whatever liquid can be drawn from them. This juice is then poured into barrels and set aside to age. That involves being hidden away, waiting in a dark cellar, away from light. This maturation process makes the wine smoother and less acidic – so the longer the wait, the better the wine.[1]

The fruit of the vine they drank from the cup that night had to be crushed first (not to mention what the vine went through). Crushing brought blessing.

Think about what it takes to get bread. The wheat seed is planted and cultivated then harvested. The grains are separated from the chaff. Then those grains aren’t just crushed, they’re pulverized into flour.

The bread they broke together that night had been made from wheat that had to be crushed first, not to mention being baked in intense heat. Crushing brought blessing.

Vaneetha Rendall Risner — a dear Christian sister who knows well what it means to be crushed — really pulls this all together for us…

Together the crushing of the grape and the crushing of the grain produce a feast that those who follow Christ recognize – communion. The bread is broken, piece by piece, and placed into open hands. The wine is poured out into a cup. Both the bread and wine feed us as we remember the most life-altering crushing in all of history. Christ endured the ultimate crushing. He gave his body and blood for us – it was God’s will to crush him as an offering for us (Isaiah 53:10). Christ was “pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) Jesus was crushed for us, which gave us life, brought us peace, and saved our souls.

Jesus’ crushing for us brought the greatest blessing ever known. He took our place on the cross. Through his crushing we have the forgiveness of our sins and the opportunity to be put in right relationship with God. I’m guessing you get that. The connection is so clear.

But maybe you’re being crushed so badly right now it’s hard to rejoice over that. Risner takes this a step further…

Christ’s crushing ensures that we will never experience the pain of punishment that our sin demands, but it does not mean we will not experience pain.

Throughout Scripture we see how God has redeemed the disappointment and pain of his people. Leah felt unwanted by her husband, but God chose her to be in the line of Christ. Joseph spent decades watching his situation worsen and yet God made him fruitful in the land of his affliction (Genesis 41:52). God used the apostle Paul, a man whose life was marked by suffering for the gospel, to demonstrate his grace (2 Cor 12:9). While we can now see how God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20), it must have felt discouraging and disheartening in the middle.

In seasons of grief when suffering seems relentless, we often wonder if it will ever end. It will. God knows exactly, to the minute, how long we must endure suffering….

Like the bread and the wine, the elements of our communion with God, we are often crushed before God uses us. We endure grief upon grief upon grief. We go through adversity, we’re pruned, pressed to the ground, and then we wait in the dark, wondering what, if anything, is happening. But our God knows exactly what is happening. He is doing something extraordinary with our lives. Something that will change us, give life to others, and glorify God. Suffering with Christ always produces something magnificent. God feeds us and feeds others.

In the process, God will never leave us. He knows that we are dust. He knows what we can endure. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18). He will draw near to us and comfort us with his love and presence. Everything he brings into our lives is a result of his loving care.

We need celebrate the Lord’s Supper, folks, because it reminds us that crushing brings blessing. That’s the scandal of Christianity! God uses the very thing he never intended for this world to know — pain and suffering — to show his glory and accomplish his plans, which brings me to one last thing. Look back at what Jesus said to the disciples that night.. 

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.”  Luke 22:15–16 (ESV)

Jesus points them and us forward to what the Lord’s Supper foreshadows, something that will overcome all the crushing we’ve ever endured. The time at the end of the age when the kingdom of God is fulfilled…

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  Revelation 21:1–4 (ESV)

Back to Risner once more…

If you are feeling crushed today, be assured that your suffering is not meaningless and that one day you will see all the beauty that God has wrought through it. Trust that he is producing something that could not have been produced without the seemingly harsh conditions, the dark barrels, the long wait and the grinding wheel. And one day in heaven, when we fully taste its richness, we will better understand how God always saves the good wine until the end (John 2:10).

Conclusion: This year is crushing, folks. Let’s celebrate.

If you have believed in Jesus and received like a gift his living the life you should have lived and dying the death you should have died, you are welcome to join us.

That’s not meant to sound mean or exclusionary, I promise. You see, the Lord’s Supper points to something so special and precious — the crucifixion of Jesus, his resurrection, the new covenant sealed by his blood, and his return —  it would be crazy inappropriate for people who haven’t become a part of that to participate.

If you’re watching this morning or here in person and can’t participate because you’re not a Christ-follower yet, please don’t feel bad or awkward. We are so glad you’re with us! You can just observe. But why wouldn’t you take care of that? In just a minute you can.

Before we get started let’s prepare by having a time of meditation and reflection. A time to get our hearts right. 

Use these next few minutes to do whatever you need to do to prepare for the Lord’s Supper this morning, especially if you’re ready to take him up on his offer to save all those who call on his name.

Lord’s Supper Begins as instrumental music softly plays…

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when 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 also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:23–26, ESV) 

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