The Lord’s Supper
1 Corinthians 11:20-30
The Lord Jesus instituted two ordinances to be observed by the church. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are those two ordinances.
Baptism dramatizes the work of the Gospel in our death with, union with and following of Jesus Christ.
The Lord’s Supper is to be observed repeatedly throughout our Christian lives as a sign of continuing fellowship with Christ.
1. Lord’s Supper: Instituted by Jesus from the Scriptures
1 Corinthians 11:23-25
A. Passover (Exodus 12:1-28; Matthew 26:17; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 13-17; 1 Corinthians
1. Lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs and if they don’t observe right they are cut off
2. Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper from the context of the Passover Meal
a. The Passover reflects the person and work of Jesus
B. Eating and Drinking in the presence of the Lord (Exodus 24:9-11; Deuteronomy 14:22-26)
C. Looking forward to a more wonderful fellowship meal in the future when Eden is restored
(Matthew 26:29; Revelation 19:9)
And the angel said1 to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” – (Revelation 19:9 ESV)
I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” – (Matthew 26:29 ESV)
D. For Christians only
E. To be celebrated as often as we gather (Acts 2:42-47)
“That such was the practice of the Apostolic Church, we are informed by Luke in the Acts, when he says, that “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). Thus we ought always to provide that no meeting of the Church is held without the word, prayer, the dispensation of the Supper, and alms. We may gather from Paul that this was the order observed by the Corinthians, and it is certain that this was the practice many ages after.” (Calvin’s Institutes IV, xvii, p. 44).
1. Luke uses the same terminology Luke 24 that he does in Acts 2:42 to describe
breaking of bread in the context of remembering the Lord. Jesus said, to do this
in remembrance of him (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).
From Genesis to Revelation, then, God’s aim has been to bring his people into fellowship with himself, and one of the greatest joys of experiencing that fellowship is the fact that we can eat and drink in the presence of the Lord. It would be healthy for the church today to recapture a more vivid sense of God’s presence at the table of the Lord.
2. Eating and drinking together are holy moments and not to be overlooked
2. Lord’s Supper: Proclamation of Jesus’ death
1 Corinthians 11:26
The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone. – John Stott, The Cross of Christ
3. Lord’s Supper: The Christian’s participation in the benefits of Jesus’ death
When we reach out and take the elements for ourselves we are proclaiming that the benefits of Christ’s death are mine through faith. What do we proclaim those benefits are?
A. Regeneration: I have been awakened to life
B. By faith, I have repented of my sin/sins and have followed Jesus
C. I have been justified
D. I have been adopted
E. I have been sanctified/being sanctified
F. I have received the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing my inheritance of the Kingdom
G. I have received the capacity, by grace, to persevere in the Gospel
4. Lord’s Supper: Spiritual nourishment by partaking of Christ, Spiritually
John 6:53-57, 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, (particularly v.18)
Not Transubstantiation – (Catholic) the bread and the wine actually become the body of blood of Jesus
Not Consubstantiation – (Luther) the physical body of Christ is present “in, with and under” the bread of the Lord’s Supper through the ubiquitous presence of Christ in his post-resurrection state. Yeah, I don’t get it either. It must be said that Jesus spoke of spiritual realities using physical objects. Jesus is talking in literal, physical terms about bread (John 6:27-59) but he is continually explaining in terms of spiritual reality.
So, just as ordinary food nourishes our physical bodies, so the bread and the cup give nourishment to us, if done within the context of a larger meal, even the small amount taken has physical effects. But that is not the point, fully.
The Lord’s Supper pictures the fact that there is spiritual nourishment and refreshment that Jesus Christ is giving to our souls (see John 6:53-57).
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. (John 6:53-57 ESV)
Certainly Jesus is not speaking of a literal eating of his flesh and blood. But if he is not speaking of literal eating and drinking, then he must have in mind a spiritual participation in the benefits of the redemption he earns. This spiritual nourishment, so necessary for our souls, is both symbolized and experienced in our participation in the Lord’s Supper.
A. By coming to the table we show we have believed
B. By eating and drinking we show we are following the Lord Jesus
C. By coming, eating and drinking we are saying that these realities are food for our souls
D. By coming, eating and drinking we are reminded of the truth of salvation exhorted to continue
The efficacy (effectiveness / usefulness) of the sacraments …resides not in the faith or virtue of the minister but in the faithfulness of God. As the preaching of the Word makes the gospel audible, so the sacraments make it visible, and the Holy Spirit stirs up faith by both means. – J.I. Packer
5. Lord’s Supper: The unity of believers
1 Corinthians 10:17
When Christians eat the Lord’s Supper together they are indicating that they are in unity with one another.
A. One Bread
B. One Body
C. One Bread
When we eat and drink we are eating and drinking to show that Jesus has broken down the hostile wall of division between peoples and made them into one people while maintaining our diversity.
Do deny unity among believers is to deny the work of the Gospel.
To segregate by color, age or interest is to communicate that the Gospel is not bigger than what makes me different from other people.
When you put together the total proclamation of the Lord’s Supper 1) that Jesus instituted the meal 2) that we proclaim Jesus’ death when we eat 3) the fact that I participate in the benefits of Jesus’ death 4) that we are spiritually nourished, 5) and that we are unified, what a marvelous reason to celebrate in great joy!
The fact that Jesus instituted this for us is an affirmation of some truths emanating out through the Gospel.
Here are some final affirmations that come from the Lord’s Supper.
1. Jesus affirms his love for his people
2. Jesus affirms that all the blessings of salvation are reserved for his people
3. The Christian affirms their faith in Jesus