Jason Helopoulos / Jul 14, 2019 / 1 Corinthians 11:23-32
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Sermon Summary / Transcript
In last Sunday’s sermon (1st Corinthians 11:23-34), Jason continued his series on worship by unpacking the other sacrament that Christ gave his church: the Lord’s Supper.
We can see the significance of this sacrament in three ways…
It is a sign and seal of our union with one another.
1st Corinthians deals with division in the church, and division among God’s people is the opposite of what this meal is for. We eat at one, unified, level table at which no seat is higher or lower than another. The Lord’s Supper is given to us to heal division and to reconcile us one to the other. We are saved unto one another, and Christ puts us in a church to live out life with one another. The Lord gave us an appropriate image – a common meal – to show us this reality, and when we examine ourselves we are to ask, “Am I in good relation with others?”
It is a sign and seal of our union with Christ.
When we come to the table, we are remembering this and proclaiming it. We are pledging that our faith is in Christ, that we are following Christ, and that we belong to Christ. Here again we examine ourselves and ask, “Do I have faith? Am I pursuing righteousness?”
And like the gospel, which invites unworthy sinners to come to Christ, the table is a place for the unworthy. It is food for the unworthy. To think ourselves unworthy is, in fact, evidence that we belong there, but we must not come in an unworthy manner. To come in an irreverent or careless manner is a dangerous thing, says Paul. Some of the Corinthians had even died because of how they came to the table. Moses himself was nearly killed for failing to circumcise his son. Why? Because God sees the sign and the thing signified in such close terms that they can be considered interchangeably. God takes it this seriously, so we do too. And this is why we don’t have our children partake of this sacrament until they profess faith and can discern the body that they’re a part of.
It is a sign and seal of Christ’s union with us.
God had instituted in the Passover meal that the entire lamb be consumed. This was to show the Israelites’ complete identification with the sacrifice. And so we too, when we come to this meal, appropriate to ourselves the sacrifice of God’s spotless lamb. We are fully covered by his blood, and he says to us, “You belong to me.”
But how is it that we are able to eat his flesh and drink his blood? What is happening with the bread and wine? It is more than just a symbolic remembering as there is real grace for those who eat and real judgment for those who don’t. It is not a literal eating of his flesh and blood, nor is Jesus “locally present,” for Christ himself sits at the right hand of the Father. But rather, Christ is present by his Spirit. He is with each of us personally, so that we can say “This grace is for me. This blood covers my sins.”
At the Lord’s Table, just as in baptism, we have more grace for our feeble faith. We have assurance that is just as real as the bread and wine are to our taste, so is this sacrament real grace to our souls.