Proclaiming the Lord's Death

Proclaiming the Lord's Death

Words of Faith 7-6-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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1 Corinthians 11

   [17] In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. [18] In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. [19] No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. [20] When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, [21] for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. [22] Don't you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!

   [23] For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, [24] and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." [25] In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." [26] For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

       Paul was deeply concerned about the basic state of the fellowship in Corinth, the fact that there were divisions among the people. This was never more evident than in the gathering for the Lord's Supper.

       The Lord's Supper was instituted by Jesus at the Passover Seder during Holy Week. This Jewish meal commemorates the Exodus from slavery. The early church celebrated an "Agape Meal," which concluded with the breaking of bread and sharing of the cup in remembrance of the Lord's death. One problem was that many in Corinth knew little about the background of the Supper and instead began treating the meal as a festal banquet such as they knew from Greek religious associations.

       There were no church buildings in Corinth so the church gathered in the homes of well-to-do patrons. These gatherings created one set of divisions but the people were even more divided along social and class lines. In Greco-Roman society, wealthy patrons often seated members of their own high social class at a special triclinium in the best room, while others were served in an atrium room in plain view of this room. The guests in the larger atrium room were served inferior food and inferior wine, and often complained about the situation. This same societal problem spilled over into the home church settings.

       The Corinthians had lost sight of what this celebration was all about. They worried about which house they were at and their place in the seating order. The Agape meal had become an occasion not marked by love for fellow Christians but one of self-centered indulgence. These home meetings were doing more harm that good.

         Paul's solution was simply to draw these believers back to the core of what the Lord's Supper is all about. He reminded them of the tradition that was passed on among Christian believers. These phrases are precious because they represent one of the oldest accounts of the Lord's Supper that we have.

       Paul reminded the believers of the simplicity and grace at the original meal so that they could see how far they had strayed-- The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."

         By looking at the original template, it was easy to see how far off track the Corinthian believers had gotten. Paul reminded them that "whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." These believers had somehow missed this declaration in the midst of the efforts to get a place in the seating chart and a good view of the high class dining room. The very gathering that should have been drawing the believers to a point of unity was dividing them along class lines.

         There is probably no activity in Christian life that has been more talked about and written about than the Lord's Supper. Huge divisions in the Body have occurred over the centuries based on the interpretation of a single word. There are many different views of the Lord's Supper that cannot be debated here. But we who claim the Name of the Lord Jesus would do well to go back to the simplicity of these same early phrases.

       We may not all agree on our experience and understanding of the Lord's Supper but it is the place of our beginning. It is the place where we proclaim the Lord's death until His coming. It is the place where we remember what Jesus did for us in the way He told us to remember.

 

       Lord, help me to focus on the important things. Help me to set aside the issues of wealth and class and the things that divide Christians. Keep me from being divided from my brothers and sisters. In Jesus' Name.