There was contention about who the leader was. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? ~~I Corinthians 1:11-12
There was contention about the observance of the Lord’s Supper. The early Christians often ate a fellowship meal together which concluded with the Lord’s supper. At this meal they all put their food together and ate in common. But at Corinth the rich were keeping their food and eating lavishly in front of those with nothing thus forcing them to go hungry. This practice had invaded the fellowship and had a bad effect on the sacred rite accompanying the meal.
These divisions promoted wrong attitudes in the church. Paul reminded them that such revelry makes it impossible to observe the beauty and reality of the Lord’s supper , whether it was observed prior to, during, or after the common meal.
Let's think first about the Authority of the Lord’s Supper.
The drama of the Lord’s Supper makes God’s action vital in the life of the church. It is so important that Paul reminds them of what Jesus said and did. "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread." Paul refused to accept the ordinance as based on tradition or coming from humans but rather through divine revelation.
And he said unto them, "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer." ~~Luke 22:15His obvious planning shows how deeply significant the meal was for Jesus. He intended to spend this Passover time with the twelve before His death and approached it with deep desire, both for the intimacy of their fellowship and for the established of the covenant relationship with them.
The real reason we have the Lord's Supper is because the Lord didn’t want us to forget Him and He wanted to have fellowship with us. "This do in remembrance of me."
Let's look at the Elements of the Lord’s Supper.
A. The Bread.
That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me." I Corinthians 11:23-24At that time Jesus was offering them His own life. His body was the vehicle through which the sacrifice of His life on their behalf was made. The very life of God was being broken and distributed foe each to share. The Scripture says, "The word was made flesh and dwelt among us."
Jesus was a self-giving Sacrifice on behalf of all of us. The Lord broke bread as a symbol of His body being broken on the cross.
Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world." Then said they unto him, "Lord, evermore give us this bread." And Jesus said unto them, "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."B. The Cup.
" I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Then Jesus said unto them, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever." ~~John 6:31-35, 47-58
After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, "This cup is the new testament in my blood." ~~ I Corinthians 11:25In Matthew and Mark the expression is, "...this is my blood of the new testament." Paul is speaking of the blood of the covenant.
Scriptures from Hebrews about the Lord’s supper contain a reference to the past, the present, and the future.
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. ~~Hebrews 9:11-15In the Old Testament worship centered in the sacrifice of unblemished lambs. Jesus was to be the Passover Lamb. He was God’s provision for our redemption. He desired to have a few last hours with His disciples to instruct them of some last things. "This do"—was the way of showing forth his death. At the Lord’s table we call to mind the high cost of our Salvation. While it is free to us, it cost Christ dearly—His very body and life’s blood. Sometimes, in the things we do, we don’t show forth His death as much as He requires. Instead, we try to crucify Him anew.
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. ~~Hebrews 13:20-21So God in Christ promised to confer all the promised blessings to those who receive the cup and embrace the covenant of grace and bind themselves in obedience to the Lord’s will.
The word "communion" is an action word which means: "fellowship, participating in, sharing together, having in common." The observance is not simply keeping a dead memory alive. It is entering into the presence of one who lived, died, was raised from the dead by the power of God, and is alive forevermore. Above all that He is present with us here and now. Jesus wanted to have communion with His disciples. He wanted them to think often of Him. We are a fellowship of believers. When we sit at the Lord’s table, it is as if we were present with Jesus during that final meal. Most definitely, He is with us.
This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. ~~Hebrews 10:16-17
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show forth the Lord’s death till he comes. ~~1 Corinthians 11:26You proclaim the Lord’s death "till He comes." Did three words ever tell more? Jesus spoke of His coming kingdom. He was preparing the disciples for the work ahead. They did not fully understand what Jesus was telling them, but they were faithful. When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are to remember the promise of His return. We have our instructions from Jesus the same as the disciples had their instructions. Are we as faithful as they were?
The Warning and Instruction.
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. ~~I Corinthians 11:27-32We are not to judge each other. Rather let a person present themselves to God for examination. Let a person be honest before God, and ask two questions:
- Have I accepted Christ as my Lord?
- Am I committed to the Lord now?
For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. ~~I John 3:20-24He who treats the symbols of Christ’s body and blood irreverently is guilty of irreverence toward the Lord himself.
Come to this sacred table, not because you must, but because you may;
Come not to testify to your righteousness,
but that you sincerely love our Lord Jesus Christ and desire to be His true disciple;
Come not because your goodness gives you a right to come,
but because in your frailty and sin you stand in need of heaven’s mercy and help;
Come because you love the Lord a little and want to love Him more;
Come because He loved you and gave Himself to you;
Lift up your hearts, above your cares and fears;
Let this bread and juice be a sign of God’s grace to you
and a pledge of your love to the Lord Jesus Christ;
Receive the love of God and consecrate your life new and afresh
to Christian obedience and service,
to discover and do the will of God in humble faith.