Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thoughts on the Lord's Last Supper

1 Cor 11:23-34

1Co 11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; 24 And giving thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body, which is broken for you; this do in remem-brance of Me."

Notice the different ways Jesus is referred to in this passage.

First He is the Lord, then Jesus, then the sacrifice offering up his own body. In v 33 we are family of whom He is the firstborn.

He is also the priest offering up the sacrifice.

He is the host of the meal.

But that’s not all of the ways Jesus reveals himself to us.

He invited these men to be at this table as His friends.

He is a prophet telling them of things to come.

He is the Passover Lamb of God’s choosing.

He is also the one who was betrayed.

If we are to sit down with Jesus at His table tonight lets think for a minute who it is who invites us.

As Jesus he is the Son of Man, he was tempted in every way we are, yet without sin, so that He can take our place on the cross.

As Lord He is Divine, God Almighty, Ruler of the Universe, Captain of the Heavenly hosts, tormentor of demons, Judge, Deliverer, and Savior.

As the Priest, he makes sacrifices for us to God, and invites us to commemorate the sacrifice with him in the New Covenant Meal.

As the Sacrifice he offers his own body, blood, and life for us, not too mention bearing the wrath of God.

As the firstborn, he invites us to the table of our Father, welcoming the prodigal sons home with rejoicing. Not to slay the fatted calf because He offered Himself for our redemption.

As the Host of the meal we are His guests. He invites us to partake of Him because of His Body and Blood. He wants us to know Him and the fellowship of His suffering.

As the Friend of Sinners, He is able to help those who are weak, because while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

He is the prophet of God, telling the disciples of His coming sacrifice but telling us of His coming return.

He is the Lamb that God that God chose for us. From among every man that was ever born, none has been perfect. No one could pay for another person’s sins because they had sins of their own to pay for. So God sent His own Lamb, His perfect Son, and he welcomes us to His table.

And lastly, He is the one who was betrayed. When Paul writes this he writes is as if it’s still going on. On the night while Jesus is being betrayed. Well we know, that Judas betrayed Jesus, and that when it was done Judas went and hung himself.

So is the betrayal still going on?

Look at vs 27-29 again. 1Co 11:27 So that whoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, he will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks condemnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

A story shared by Chuck Colson: "Believers dare not come to the Lord's Table except with a repentant heart. "Whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner," as Paul puts it, "drinks judgment to himself." That should be a sobering warning, especially when the apostle adds that because of this offense many have fallen ill or died.

Pat Novak, pastor, discovered this when he was serving as a hospital chaplain intern near Boston. Pat was making his rounds one summer morning when he was called to visit a patient admitted with an undiagnosed ailment. John, a man in his sixties, had not responded to any treatment; medical tests showed nothing; psychological tests were inconclusive. Yet he was wasting away; he had not even been able to swallow for two weeks. The nurses tried everything. Finally they called the chaplain's office.

When Pat walked into the room, John was sitting limply in his bed, strung with IV tubes, staring listlessly at the wall. He was a tall, grandfatherly man, balding a little, but his sallow skin hung loosely on his face, neck, and arms where the weight had dropped from his frame. His eyes were hollow.

Pat was terrified; he had no idea what to do. But John seemed to brighten a bit as soon as he saw Pat's chaplain badge and invited him to sit down. As they talked, Pat sensed that God was urging him to do something specific: He knew he was to ask John if he wanted to take Communion. Chaplain interns were not encouraged to ask this type of thing in this public hospital, but Pat did.

At that John broke down. "I can't!" he cried. "I've sinned and can't be forgiven."

Pat paused a moment, knowing he was about to break policy again. Then he told John about 1 Corinthians 11 and Paul's admonition that whoever takes Communion in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself. And he asked John if he wanted to confess his sin. John nodded gratefully. To this day Pat can't remember the particular sin John confessed, nor would he say if he did, but he recalls that it did not strike him as particularly egregious. Yet it had been draining the life from this man. John wept as he confessed, and Pat laid hands on him, hugged him, and told John his sins were forgiven.

Then Pat got the second urging from the Holy Spirit: Ask him if he wants to take Communion. He did. Pat gave John a Bible and told him he would be back later. Already John was sitting up straighter, with a flicker of light in his eyes.

Pat visited a few more patients and then ate some lunch in the hospital cafeteria. When he left he wrapped an extra piece of bread in a napkin and borrowed a coffee cup from the cafeteria. He ran out to a shop a few blocks away and bought a container of grape juice. Then he returned to John's room with the elements and celebrated Communion with him, again reciting 1 Corinthians 11. John took the bread and chewed it slowly. It was the first time in weeks he had been able to take solid food in his mouth. He took the cup and swallowed. He had been set free.

Within three days John walked out of that hospital. The nurses were so amazed they called the newspaper, which later featured the story of John and Pat, appropriately, in its "LIFE" section."

Charles W. Colson, The Body,1992, Word Publishing, pp. 139-140.

Let’s don’t betray Jesus, Let’s partake of this table because He invited us. He’s Our Priest, the son of Man and Son of God, our friend and brother, our prophet, our host, and our Lamb.

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