My scripture comes from II Cor. 11:23-29.
Today I am speaking on Communion. Communion is a time to:
Remember: “The Master Jesus, on the night of His betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me.” After supper, he did the same thing with the cup: “This is my blood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink this cup remember me.”
A. Jesus Interpreted something old: Passover
Passover is celebrated every year by those in the Jewish community. I have participated in many Passover dinners in my life. Because of an association with a Jewish family in West Palm Beach during my childhood I was a part of the Levinson family’s Seder dinner each year. Everything is symbolic and done to remember the plight of the Jewish people and how God delivered them and led them out of bondage and to the promised land. Each Seder dinner ends with the line, next year in Jerusalem. Jesus was celebrating Passover with his disciples when He took the dinner to a whole new level.
B. Jesus Interpreted something new: Communion
Jesus began to use the bread and the cup to talk about remembering what He was about to do at the cross. When Jesus broke the bread and held up the cup and referred to his broken body and the blood He would shed, He made a covenant with us.
The Lord’s supper is a memorial meal. When we take communion we are remembering Jesus’ death for our sins. I would like us to pause for a moment and remember the death of our Savior.
Rejoice: “What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns.”
Communion is not just about looking back. It is about looking forward. NIV “. . .we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
There should be a spirit of rejoicing that accompanies this act. We are celebrating and proclaiming His death and power to change lives until He comes back. In a way we can say with those of the Jewish faith, not next year in Jerusalem but next year with our Lord. We look forward to the day when we celebrate this act of communion with Jesus at the head of the table.
Years ago, before fathers were allowed in delivery rooms, a young father-to-be was pacing back and forth, nervously wringing his hands in the hospital waiting room while his wife was in labor. Finally, a nurse opened the door and said, "Well, sir, you have a little girl." He heaved a sigh of relief and said, "Thank God it’s a girl. She’ll never have to go through the agony I’ve gone through tonight!"
We need to focus our rejoicing and make sure it is on the right thing. We rejoice in this act of communion because we wait for the return of our risen Lord. Join me in a moment for private rejoicing and thanksgiving to God.
Repent: “Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of remembrance you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test you heart, come to this meal in holy awe.” Communion allows us to examine ourselves and if the Holy Spirit shines his light on anything in our lives that it unworthy of the body and blood of our Lord, we have the opportunity to repent and experience his forgiveness and cleansing in a new way that we might sincerely celebrate communion. Jesus died to save us from our sins and we should be hating sin and forsaking sin and sinful ways. Please, Don’t come to the bread and cup this morning with un-confessed sin in your life. Ask yourself some questions:
Have I walked close to God this week?
Have I acknowledged Him as Lord of my life?
Have I surrendered my life to Him or am I holding back a part of my life for myself?
Have I offended someone?
Have I said things that need to be repented of?
Have I done something that is clearly a violation of God’s word?
Have I refused to make peace with my neighbor?
Am I clear in my heart and life before God?
Is there any hidden sin that only God knows?
Let us take a few moments to reflect and repent of any carelessness on our part that has led to sin in our lives.
Reconcile: “If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences.”
William Barclay suggests two possible meaning here and he proposes that both are intended.
A. Careless attitude toward the experience.
B. “Body of Christ” or Body of the Master often refers to the church. Do not participate in communion when you have something between you and another part of the body. If you are in conflict with someone or you need to make wrong something you have done to someone else within the local church body, don’t even think about participating in this holy moment until those unresolved conflicts have been corrected. The prayer of person living right with God is something to be reckoned with.” We need to spend a moment in reflection about our relationships with others. Is there someone that you need to ask to forgive you?
One memory that burns deep within me is that of a plane flight on which I was headed toward a meeting that would determine a major decision in my life. I knew I was in desperate need of rekindling my passion as a teacher. But my passion was missing because I was steeped in resentment toward another person.
For days I had tried everything to rid myself of vindictive thoughts toward that person. But try as I might, I would even wake in the night, thinking of ways to get back at him. I wanted to embarrass him for what he had done. My resentment was beginning to dominate me and on that plane trip I came to a realization of how bad things really were. . . As the plane entered the landing pattern, I found myself crying silently to God for power both to forgive and to experience liberation from my poisoned spirit. Suddenly it was as if an invisible knife cut a hole in my chest, and I literally felt a thick substance oozing from within. Moments later I felt as if I’d lost negative spiritual weight, the kind I needed to lose. I was free. I fairly bounded off that plane. The passion I had once had in my early years of teacher returned. Spiritual passion cannot coexist with resentments. The Scriptures are clear. The unforgiving spirit saps the energy that causes Christian growth and effectiveness.
As we begin to settle our spirits for Communion I want to ask that if you have an issue with someone or something….this is a perfect time to clear it up.