Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that Paul gives instructions about the Lord’s Supper. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to participate in the Lord’s Supper with the proper respect.
Read I Corinthians 11:23-26
I. The Meal of Remembrance. In our Sunday School material, Paul talks about what we would call the Lord’s Supper or Communion (i.e., these terms mean the same thing in this material). The bread represents the body of Christ.
The fruit of the vine represents the blood of Christ. This ordinance (i.e., a Baptist term) was implemented during our Lord’s last supper, before He was crucified.
- The meaning of the elements. Notice in vss. 23-26 that the bread and drink are symbolic of the body and blood of Christ. The bread represents Jesus’ body, which was given for us. And the drink, fruit of vine, represents the shed blood of Jesus for us.
When we eat and drink at the Lord’s Supper, we should be focused on what Jesus has done for us and His calling us to live by His will. Let’s make sure we focus on the meaning of the elements.
- Lessor issues. Notice in vss. 23-26 what is not mentioned. There is no mention of the first Sunday, men wearing black suits, women wearing white dresses, communion trays, or people walking around or sitting down.
These things and others are less important than remembering the meaning and calling of the elements. “Yes,” we need to do things decently and in order. “Yes,” we probably need to serve in an efficient and memorable way, so we can focus our attention on the spiritual aspects, instead of the logistics.
But if we are not careful, we will become Pharisees. We will give more attention to the way that we serve communion/Lord’s Supper than the actual meaning and call of the elements. Let’s make sure we keep lessor issues in their places.
Read I Corinthians 11:27-34
II. The Implications of the Meal. Paul talks about the importance of giving the occasion the worth that it deserves, in our Sunday School material. Failure to give the occasion the worth that it deserves is subject to judgment. Paul urges fellowship among the believers. And he talks about his given further instructions when he comes
- “Unworthy manner.” Notice in vss. 27-30 the mention of “unworthy manner.” To put it in simple terms, we are called to participate in a worthy manner, which includes making sure that we are saved and striving to love God and others, as we love ourselves.
If we are not participating in a “worthy manner,” we are at risk of participating in an “unworthy manner.” The Lord’s Supper is not a church snack, especially for those who are not saved. It is not something that should be done while nursing a grudge with especially those in the same congregation.
We should participate with a mind to at least study, serve, and give according to God’s will. Let’s make sure that we are participating in the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner.
Notice that each individual is to determine, by way of self-examination, their being worthy or not. If perfection is the standard, none of us could come. But everyone should come with assurance of salvation and serious effort to live by God’s chief commandments.
- God’s discipline. Notice in vss. 29-32 that sin leads to disciple for our ultimate good. It is a grave mistake to think that we can do whatever we want to do and God will not do anything about it.
God punishes sin. In this text, sickness and death were used by God as punishment. But even in God’s disciplining us, He aims to keep us from being condemned with the world.
Let’s work on living by God’s will, so we don’t have to face God’s discipline. Our lives are challenging enough without adding God’s punishments to our lists.
- Unity and discipleship. Notice in vss. 33-34 that Paul urges the believers to participate together in the Lord’s Supper and to eat at one’s own home. First, it is so important for God’s people to strive for a certain level of unity. The more divided we are, the easier we are to be picked off by the devil, and the less pleasing we are to God.
Second, we should strive to take care of ourselves. Most of our churches is not designed to be a social services centers – passing out food, etc. We do what we can, especially when there are pressing needs. We are at our best, when we focus on discipleship development. Let’s focus on unity in being a discipleship development center.
- The right pace. Notice in vs. 34 that Paul did somethings in this letter and left some things for later. In like manner, we should work on knowing how much we can accomplish now and how much has to wait until later.
There are times when we overwhelm ourselves and others, by trying to do too much too soon. There are also times, when we don’t do enough with the time and energy that we have. Let’s seek God’s wisdom and energy to move at the right pace.
Conclusion: Let’s work on participating in the Lord’s Supper with the proper respect. God has much for those who obey His will.