My scripture today for World Communion Sunday is from I Corinthians 11:17-34. Today we join Christians from every country around the world in Celebrating World Communion Sunday. Just think of it all around our globe Christians of every tongue, tribe, and on every continent are doing what we are doing this morning. They are gathering as brothers and sisters in Christ to sit with Jesus at the Communion table. I wonder how many we are in terms of numbers. I wonder what challenges each person faces in their walk with God. I have to be honest and tell you that I wonder how big the communion table in heaven will be when I see it for the first time. Communion is for us a Sacrament that was introduced to us by Jesus our Savior. We come together as one body of believers to share in commemorating the Last Supper of Jesus Christ. It became the last supper for Jesus because He had been betrayed and sold out for 30 pieces of silver by one of his own followers Judas Iscariot. The occasion of Jesus Last Supper happened to be during a special Jewish ceremony celebrated by all Jews called the Passover. The Passover was an annual celebration where the Jews remembered how the Living God Yahweh sent the Angel of Death over the country of Egypt to kill the first born of the Egyptians. The Angel of Death Passed over the Jewish people and their firstborn saving them from death. The Jews had the blood of a lamb on their doors and door posts identifying them as Gods people. It was the last of ten great plagues against Egypt. They are recorded in the book of Genesis as: Water turned to Blood, Frogs over the land, Lice, Flies, Diseased Livestock, Boils, Hail, Locusts, Three Days of Darkness, and Death of the First Born of Egypt. All these things were to be remembered and were recounted by Jesus and his disciples during the Last Supper. The day before the Last Supper Jesus ordered his disciples to make the arrangements for the Passover meal. We see in Matt 26:17. Jesus Last Supper became for us our Passover meal. Jesus used the bread and the wine already on the table as elements to represent His body and blood. So let me ask you….What ten great plagues has God rescued you from since Jesus blood has covered you? Maybe you are still suffering from some kind of sin and seek freedom. 3,000 years ago when the first Passover was celebrated the Jews made bread without a leveling agent. It was a bread made in haste so no leaven was used. It was to remind them that they would be delivered suddenly. From that day until now all leaven must be removed from a Jewish home in preparation for the Passover and if any is found it must be put in a paper bag and burnt or sold to a non-Jew in order to purify the home for the Passover celebration. Then a final search and sweeping of the house must be done to ensure all leaven is removed. We are to examine ourselves before we partake of communion we are called to search our lives and our hearts for any hidden sin. We are to sweep our hearts clean before God. 1Corinthians 11:28 - A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. The firstborn male of a Jewish family must fast the day before in recognition of how the firstborn of the Egyptians was struck down by the hand of God. All Jews were required to abstain completely for the next seven or eight days from all foods containing leaven or chametz. They were also to refrain from all work on the first and last days of the Passover but could work on the days in between. What did the Last Supper look like? One of the Disciples would have lit two candles and said a blessing over each candle as it was lit. The wine would then have been blessed and a cup poured for each person as well as an extra cup for the prophet Elijah. In all four cups of wine would be consumed by each person present at specific times of the ceremony. But Elijah’s cup would remain untouched. They would have washed their hands and then taken parsley to remind them of the rebirth of spring and then dipped the parsley into salt water to remind them of the many tears shed by the Jews while in slavery. Three breads were then displayed with the middle one being broken and passed around for all to share. Half of one of the breads would be hidden and covered for children to find later. It is called the afikomen, it is a Greek word. It means something to the effect of that which is coming. The youngest in the room would have asked the four questions: This would probably have been the disciple John who was the youngest of the disciples. Why do we not eat leavened bread? Why do we only eat bitter vegetables tonight? Why do we dip our food twice, once in salt water and once in the Charoses? (A kind of fruit paste) Why do we recline as we eat. (This symbolizes that the Jews have the status of free men). The Passover Feast is still celebrated in this way to this day. The Jews were held as slaves in Egypt for over 400 years seeking a deliverer from their oppression. God provided Moses to lead them to freedom from their bondage. But they like us had to choose to leave their life of slavery in Egypt as we choose to leave our life of slavery to sin for freedom in Christ today. God has provided a deliverer for you dear sinner. It is Jesus Christ and he has paid the price of your slavery and suffered the lash of the oppressed for your sake. Jesus is seen in the Passover ceremony even today. Lamb is the traditional meal. Jesus blood was shed to cover our sinful lives just as lambs blood was put upon the Jews door posts and lentils. According to the New Testament, Christ was the lamb that was slain for our sins (John 1:29). Jesus is the Lamb of God. Matzoth bread contains no leaven - Jesus had no sin. The Matzoth bread had holes in it and stripes representing Jesus wounds and scourging. Jesus is represented in the afikomen, (epikomen) it is a Greek word. It means something to the effect of “that which is coming. ” Jesus himself died was (broken), buried (hidden), and rose again (found). He tells us many times in the bible that he is coming again and will be revealed. Three pieces of Matzoth represent the Holy Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Ghost. During the meal, the door to the home is opened in case the Messiah should grace everyone with His presence. What many do not realize is that the Messiah has already come. He stands at the door and knocks (Revelation 3:20). Jesus calls us to this communion with him today so that we might remember the way God freed the Jews so long ago in such a powerful way and so that we might remember Jesus life of sacrifice, death and resurrection freeing us from sin and death and raising us to an eternal life with God our Father. Have you become a slave in life to something that is holding you back from knowing the freedom God offers you? Won’t you please sweep your life clean of sin today and search you heart? I want to invite you to join us at the communion table with Jesus who invites everyone to know the freedom he offers and the peace that passes all understanding. You don’t have to be a United Methodist to partake….you just have to believe.
To Joey, With Love....WINNER!
5 months ago