Sunday, 19th August, 2018 [General Assembly Sunday]
Hymn of meditation: PH 545
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed.
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
Beloved, today, I want us not to just preach but to share together since all of us have partaken in the Lord’s Supper before. The Lord’s Supper is an institution and the objective of this study is to know…
- why the Lord’s Supper was instituted
- the historical implications of the Lord’s Supper
- the importance of the Lord’s supper
- how we can derive the benefits of the Lord’s Supper
MEANING AND BACKGROUND
There are two Ordinances that were instituted by Jesus Christ. The Lord Himself said these:
- BAPTISM: which is to be observed once in the life of every Christian after accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and personal Saviour.
- THE LORD’S SUPPER: To be observed repeatedly in our Christian lives. Every now and then, we get the opportunity to dine with the Lord at His table.
Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper in the following way:
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 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.”
The first time that Jesus came to Jerusalem as an adult to celebrate the Passover was when He went into the temple only to find money changers, sellers and people doing a whole lot of negative things and He whipped them out. Jesus’ second appearance at the Temple was when He was preparing for His death.
This was instituted within a context – the first coinciding with the cleansing of the temple.
What Jesus was revealing in the above Text from Matthew is that, after the first meal (the forgiveness and cleansing of the Temple), the next one will be when we have totally accepted Him and after our death, meet with Him in heaven to wine and dine together with Him.
When the people of Israel camped before Mount Sinai in Exodus 24:9-11, there was a feast just like in the earlier days in the Garden of Eden – feasting in the presence of the Lord. God was there with them daily, but this fellowship was broken in this same Garden by sin. God afterward, sort to reconcile man back unto Himself. All the effort that was made only brought partial restoration. In case one sins, the person uses a lamb as an offering to pacify.
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming–not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
The Lord’s Supper reminds us that Jesus has accomplished full payment of sin (Matthew 26:29).
TRUE MEANING OF THE LORD’S SUPPER & ITS SIGNIFICANCE
- The Supper primarily symbolizes Christ’s death
1 Corinthians 11:26 – For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
The bread is a true reflection of the body of Christ that was mutilated, beaten and spat upon so taking the Supper is taking the real body into ours. Anytime you sit to partake in the Lord’s Supper, you are declaring that Jesus truly died and will rise again.
- Our participation in Christ’s death
Matthew 26:26 – While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Anytime you break bread, remember it is the body of Christ.
- Spiritual nourishment
John 6:53-57 – Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.
When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, He told her that He is able to offer certain water, not the one from that well of David after which she will never thirst again. In a like manner, sharing at the Lord’s Table gives us spiritual nourishment that goes to replenish our spirits continually. Sometimes we take it for a joke, but I can testify of people who took the blood and body of Jesus (the wine and the bread) and have their problems cease. We must strive to come prepared to obtain the full measure of benefit.
- Unity of Believers
When there is any infighting and division among members in the church, taking the Communion is of no benefit. If the unity does not dwell within the church, then taking the communion becomes a mere ritual.
- Christ affirms his love for me
It is out of love that Christ came to earth in the first place as recorded in John 3:16-18 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Christ’s body that was shed affirms His blood for me.
- Christ affirms that all the blessings of salvation are reserved for me through partaking in the Holy Communion.
- The Communion also allows me to affirm my faith in Jesus Christ.
HOW IS CHRIST PRESENT IN THE LORD’S SUPPER?
- The Roman Catholic view: TRANSUBSTANTIATION.
When the cup and bread are raised by the Priest and prayed over, it is no longer an ordinary representation of the body and blood but it actually is the body and blood of Christ.
- The Lutheran view: Taking the Lord’s Supper puts the believer in, with and under the body and blood of Jesus Christ. For them, when you partake, you are ‘in it’, sharing with fellow believers you are ‘with it’ and taking it in brings you ‘under it’.
- The rest of Protestantism:
A symbolic and spiritual presence of Christ. While Jesus declared the bread and wine as His body and blood, He was actually standing as a separate entity and holding the bread in His hands.
- John 6:51-58
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
WHO CAN PARTAKE?
In catholic teachings, there was the fear of the blood spilling so that the sacrament would be profaned. Laymen were therefore prevented from taking the wine; they only took the bread while the Priest takes the wine. The belief here is that, the power of consecration resides in a validly consecrated priest only.
Most Protestants agree first that ‘only those who believe in Christ’ should partake in the wine because it is a sign of being a Christian and continuing the Christian life. To them, only those who have been baptized should participate because baptism is so clearly a symbol of beginning the Christian life.
This raises some questions…
In John’s gospel, Jesus tells us that the bread came from heaven and anyone can eat it. The emphasis is on ANYONE.
The question is, Must we eat the bread to have eternal life or have eternal life to eat the bread? (a case of the chicken and egg: which one came first)
But when Jesus broke the bread, He broke it ONLY with His disciples and not with all the people. A clear reflection of what happened in Exodus 12.
The point here therefore is that, you must be a disciple of Jesus before you can effectively partake in the Lord’s Supper. There are many views but when Christ did it, He did it with His disciples alone.
1 Corinthians 11:17 downwards gives the indication as to who can come and how the Table must be approached.
In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not! …
- If you have food in the house and can eat, eat before coming so you would not come and scramble for the little we are all sharing
- Come in unity bearing no grudge against a brother or sister. Come with one mind.
- Jude also affirms that it is not just anyone who can come except for the one prepared (according to the guidelines).
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ELEMENTS: The Bread and The Wine
- The bread is the body of Christ
- The wine is the blood of Christ
These must be held sacred.
The bread reminds us of the death of Christ on the cross of Calvary and what it means to us and the blood redeems us from sin and evil.
Remember, the cup is a ‘Covenant’ as Jesus Himself stated “…A token of my blood which is the New Covenant” so you can covenant and declare what you need as you approach the Table to take the cup and bread (wafer). I can promise you that if you do this wholeheartedly, He will fulfil it. Any act of unforgiveness must therefore be eschewed.
HOW CAN ONE BENEFIT
- Be careful how you live: do not live like fools but wise. Do not live as though God does not exist. And know that we are in evil days
- Understand what the Lord wants from you: praise, worship, thank and learn from God.
- Don’t be drunk with wine: shun hard drinks
- Be filled with the Holy Spirit
- Make music to the Lord in your heart
- Give thanks to God in Jesus’ name
In summary, Jesus instituted this sacrament to teach us to sacrifice. Everyone can partake but one must be well prepared.
Partake with a clean heart, mind, body and spirit so that you are not cursed. Anyone who eats and drinks unworthily is cursed. The Lord’s Table is a Table of blessing so anyone who comes, must be excited to dine with the Lord because dining with the Lord makes you another person altogether then on the final day when we meet the Lord face-to-face, we can even dine with better meaning and joy.
Closing Hymn: PH 477
Now I have found a sure foundation,
On which my soul shall rest secure.
It’s in the wounds of Christ my Saviour,
What God had planned from time of old.
Let earth and heaven pass away,
This sure foundation shall remain