Getting the most out of the Lordís Supper

 

The Lordís Supper is another important part of our worship service and it deserves our full attention and respect just like everything else we do in our worship to God. The Lordís Supper has always been important to Christians since the beginning of Christianity.

 

The first thing, I want to share with you is a few quotes about the Lordís Supper from some of the early writers who called themselves Christians. These men are not inspired by God, but it gives us some insight to what they taught about the Lordís Supper.

 

One of the earliest set of secular writings we have after the birth of the church dating around A.D. 100 is called the ďDidachĒ (did-uh-kay), which means teaching. The author is unknown, but this writing was a guide to those who were becoming Christians.

 

Didache 14:1 But every Lord's day do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.2 But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned.3 For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, saith the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.

 

They also limited who could partake of the Lordís Supper:

 

Didache 9:5 But let no one eat or drink of your Thanksgiving (Eucharist), but they who have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord hath said, Give not that which is holy to the dogs.

 

Justin Martyr writing around A.D. 150 wrote:

 

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in the cities or in the country gather together in one place.

Ö. Then [the Eucharist] is distributed to everyone, and everyone participates in that over which thanks have been given.

Ö. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.

 

These are just a small sample of what some of these early writers said about the Lordís Supper. As you read through these secular writings, you will find that they agree that the Lordís Supper is to be taken by Christians every first day of the week. This fact is backed up by B.W. Johnson who authored the Peopleís New Testament:

 

...the early church writers from Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, to Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Cyprian, all with one consent, declare that the church observed the first day of the week. They are equally agreed that the Lord's Supper was observed weekly, on the first day of the week.

 

Not only should the Lordís Supper be taken every first day of the week, it should be observed according to Scripture, but this doesnít always happen. In fact, some of the Christians in the 1st century had already started to corrupt the Lordís Supper and Paul rebuked the Corinthians for doing this in:

 

1 Corinthians 11:17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse.18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it.19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper.21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.

 

These Christians had turned the Lordís Supper into a feast and a drunken fest and it was every man for himself. They had gone back to their old ways because there are a lot of Pagan worship going on in that city where they had done this before, but as Paul told them, what they were doing was not the Lordís Supper. If they continued to defile the Lordís Supper this way Paul said:

 

1 Corinthians 11:27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

 

This was a serious offense and Paul also said:

 

1 Corinthians 11:29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.

 

While we may never get to the point of abusing the Lordís Supper as these Christians did, we still need to be concerned about how we partake of the Lordís Supper. We need to make sure that we are doing it in the proper manner because if we are not careful, we can turn the Lordís Supper into mindless activity. If we count it as a common thing, then we are not partaking of the Lordís Supper in a worthy manner and Paulís rebuke will apply to us.

 

This is why it is so important that we partake of the Lordís Supper with our minds in the right place because when do it right we will get the most out of the Lordís Supper and our lives will be blessed and our spirits will be uplifted.

 

To help us get the most out of the Lordís Supper lets take a look at what the Bible says about the Lordís Supper.

 

The first thing I want to point about the Lordís Supper is that it is a memorial that reminds us of what Jesus did for us. Memorials have always been important throughout the Bible and many times you will read in the Old Testament of how the children of Israel would set up a memorial of what God had done for them. For example, Joshua had them set up 12 stones to serve a reminder of how God allowed them to cross the Jordan River on dry ground in Josh 4.

 

Also under the OT, the Passover was a memorial observed every year by the Jews, so they could be reminded of how they were delivered from Egypt by God, and how their first born males were spared by them putting the blood of a lamb on their door post.

 

In the same way, the Lordís Supper is a memorial of what Jesus did for us and how He died for us. Notice what Jesus said when He instituted the Lordís Supper:

 

Matthew 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body."27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you.28 "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

 

Also Paul said:

 

1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."

 

So when we eat of the unleavened bread, we need to remember that it represents the body of Christ. We need to think about what His physical body went through for us and how much Love He had for us to allow His body to be put to death on the cross.

 

When we drink of the fruit of the vine, we need to think about how Jesus was willing to shed His blood for us so that we could have the forgiveness of sin and so the new covenant could be put in place, which is a covenant for every person on the face of the earth. As Paul said in:

 

Romans 5:6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

 

As we partake of the Lordís Supper we need to concentrate and have our minds on what Jesus did for us even though we did not deserve it. There are many different ways that we can do this.

 

First of all, we can simply use our imagination and picture in our mind how Jesus lived a perfect sin free life for us and how He was willing to endure the scourging, the beatings and the suffering He endured on the cross. We can imagine how all those Jews had turned their back on Jesus, yet He was willing die for them and all us. Finally, we can imagine how painful it was for Jesus when He had to be separated from His Father for the first time in His life because He was being sacrificed for all of our sins.

 

Second, we can take out our Bible and read passages like Isa. 53,Psalms 22 or N.T. passages that talk about what Jesus did for us.

 

Third, we can open our song books and read the words of those songs that talk about the Lordís Supper.

 

All, of these things can be helpful, but what is important is for you to figure out what works best for you, so that you can make sure that you have your mind on Christ and what He did for us as you partake of the Lordís Supper. When we do this, it will help us to get the most out of it.

 

Another thing that will help us to get the most out the Lordís Supper is to realize that it is a proclamation of Jesus death until He comes again. As Paul said:

 

1 Corinthians 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.

 

When we partake of the Lordís Supper, we are letting people know that Jesus died for our sins and we are also proclaiming our faith in Jesus in that He will return one day. Until that day happens, we will continue to proclaim His death every week by partaking of the Lordís Supper.

 

When our children see us doing this every Sunday, they will understand that the Lordís Supper is important to mom and dad, and they will ask why do you partake of the Lordís Supper, and we can tell them all about it. The same thing can happen to our visitors from the community. Not only does the Lordís Supper serve as memorial, it can also be used as teaching tool for our children and others as we proclaim Jesus death as we look forward to the day He returns.

 

Another thing that will help us to get the most of the Lordís Supper is to realize that we are in fellowship with Jesus when we partake of it, as Paul said:

 

1 Corinthians 10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

According to Paul, we are participating and fellowshipping with the blood of Christ and His body when we partake of the Lordís Supper, which is why only Christians should partake of it because a nonChristian cannot be in fellowship with Jesus. If we can imagine in our minds that we are in direct fellowship with Jesus as we partake of the Lordís Supper it will cause us to appreciate and take the Lordís Supper seriously. As we think about what we are doing and who we are doing it with, it should move us. Sometimes it may make us very sad that Jesus had to die for us, and other times it might cause us to rejoice in our minds because Jesus was willing to die for us and give us the hope of heaven.

 

Again, if we will think about these things, we canít help but to get the most of the Lordís Supper.

 

Another thing we must do is to consider the warning of Paul:

 

1 Corinthians 11:27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

 

The last thing we should want as Christians is to be guilty of the blood of Christ by not partaking of the Lordís Supper in a worthy manner. Some have misunderstood this passage to mean that we must be worthy to partake of the Lordís Supper, but if that were the case none of should ever partake of it because none us are worthy, but thankfully though Godís grace, all true Christians have been reconciled to God through Jesusí death, which gives us the privilege to partake of the Lordís Supper.

 

What Paul had in mind here is that we are not supposed take it in an unworthy manner. Of the course the immediate example was how these Corinthians had completely corrupted it, but we can do the same if we are not partaking it with the right attitude or for the right reason. So, reminding ourselves of how serious we should be when we partake of the Lordís Supper will help us to really focus on it. If we count it a common thing, it just like counting Jesusí death on the cross a common thing so lets be sure that our minds in the right place as Paul said:

 

1 Corinthians 11:28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

 

Another important thing that will help us to get the most of the Lordís Supper is to make it a time of reflection on how we have been living our Christian lives. Have we been faithful this week or are there sins that we need to take care of? When we think about Jesus dying for the forgiveness of our sins and how He has made it possible for us to continue to have forgiveness for our future sins as we walk in the light it will help motivate us to live holy lives.

 

If we will allow it, the Lordís Supper can help us to remain faithful to God and to never forget that our ultimate goal is to honor Christís death by keeping sin out of our lives and by doing our best to follow in His footsteps.

One last thing that will help us to get the most of the Lordís Supper is to realize that we are also in fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, which is why Paul taught that we are to partake of it together. When we assemble with the saints, we make up the one body of Christ that He purchased with His own blood. When we partake of it together, we show our unity, and it is wonderful thing to be able to come together and be in fellowship with each other and with God and be able to honor Jesus by eating the bread and drinking the fruit of the vine. Reminding ourselves of this great privilege we have been given by God should help us to get the most out of the Lordís Supper.

 

I hope that you will allow this message to sink deep into your heart, and that it will cause you to have a deeper appreciation for the Lordís Supper, and I hope you will make an effort to be here every Lordís Day so you can participate in remembering and proclaiming our Lordís death until He comes again.