Why the Lord's Supper? - 1 Corinthians 10:14-17, 11:23-30
Once a month we take time as a church to share of the Lord’s Supper. We pray, we read Scripture, we eat of the bread and we drink of the cup. This is an important practice, and we believe that our regular sharing of the Table honors God. But we must also be on guard. Anytime we do something over and over there is the potential of simply following a routine and forgetting the significance of what we are doing.
Perhaps this temptation to go through the motions is something you are unfamiliar with (praise God!), but even still it’s important for us to take time periodically to consider the reason for this gift. What does God want for us as we share the Lord’s Supper? What should we be thinking about and what benefits should we expect to receive?
In 1 Corinthians 10 and 11 Paul devotes time to helping the Corinthian church think righty about the Lord’s Supper. While there is much to be learned from these chapters, this sermon will focus in on five things that we should keep in mind as we observe the Lord’s Supper.
Fellowship– The Lord’s Supper is for Fellowship with Christ (10:16-17)
- Context - As Paul writes to the church at Corinth one of the issues that he confronts is idol worship. It’s in the context of this issue that he uses the Lord’s Supper as part of his explanation for why the Corinthians should ‘flee idolatry.’ To share in the Lord’s Table is to be in fellowship with Christ, and in the same way, to eat at a meal dedicated to an idol is to be in fellowship with that idol. Paul’s admonition is ‘flee.’
- Participation – The word translated as ‘participation’ can also be translated as ‘fellowship’ or ‘communion.’ To eat at this Table is to “commune” with Christ, to have fellowship with Him. This is not a means of salvation, but as we share in the Lord’s Supper believers are acknowledging and enjoying the fellowship and union that we have with Him, that is established through His cross.
Remember – The Lord’s Supper is for Remembering Christ (11:24-25)
- The institution of the Supper – As Jesus prepared for the cross His heart remained tuned to the needs of His disciples – the twelve and all who would follow. As He and the twelve gathered for the Passover meal (a meal of remembrance – Exodus 12:1-14) Jesus institutes a new meal of remembrance, what we call the Lord’s Supper.
- In remembrance of me – Both after breaking the bread and after serving the cup Jesus tells His disciples that this is something they should do again – and that they should do it in remembrance of Him.
- Our remembrance – As we eat and drink of the Lord’s Supper we should remember the act of His sacrifice, but we should also call to mind all the things that His sacrifice accomplished on our behalf. As we remember Him we call to mind the hope, peace, forgiveness, mercy and rest we have through Him. This should be a worshipful remembering.
Proclaim – The Lord’s Supper is for Proclaiming Christ (11:26)
- Proclaim the Lord’s death – God has given us many means of confessing our faith and the Lord’s Supper is one of the means He has ordained. As we eat and drink from His table we are giving a visible sign, a kind of drama proclaiming our belief in His work on our behalf.
- To whom do we proclaim? It’s fair to say that there are several audiences to our proclamation. We are affirming our faith in the cross to ourselves before God, to one another as followers of Jesus and to unbelievers who gather with us. Each of these audiences should be impacted as they witness our sincere confession of faith in Jesus.
Anticipate – The Lord’s Supper is for Anticipating Christ’s Return (11:26)
- Until He comes– The Lord’s Supper is not an eternal memorial. Christ’s work on the cross is completed, but we still wait for the day of our final salvation. Christ is coming again to fulfill His promises to us and there’s sense in which the Lord’s Supper is a reminder of His imminent return. The supper we share is a sort of rehearsal dinner as we anticipate the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-9; 1 Jn. 3:2).
Together – The Lord’s Supper is for the Unity of the Body (10:16-17)
- One Bread, One Body – After the acknowledging that the Lord’s Table brings us into fellowship with Christ Paul reminds us of how the Table is a symbol of our fellowship with all who are in Christ. We eat of the same bread and we are joined together in the same body (1 Cor. 12:12-13). In addition Paul uses the phrase ‘when you come together’five times in chapter 11. This is to be a shared meal.
Preparing for the Table – The Lord’s Supper is for Reflection and Repentance (11:27-30)
As Paul calls for the right use of the Lord’s Table he calls for self-examination for all who eat and drink. As we remember the sacrifice of Jesus we must be cautious not to remain in unrepentant sin. Our preparation for this sacred meal should include reflection and repentance and Paul gives a severe warning against eating unworthily.