The Lord’s Supper 4/12/15
Luke 22:7-27, I Corinthians 11:17-34, John 13:34-35
In the protestant church, there are two sacraments, the Lord’s Supper and Baptism. A sacrament is a means of grace. By participating, we experience a deeper sense of the Lord.
The sacraments were given for believers. Believers should show their faith publicly. We are followers of the Lord, disciples.
We’ve been taking the path of discipleship throughout Lent, and will continue throughout the seven weeks of Easter. We pause today from our Map, to remember that the decisions we make on how to follow Jesus Christ should all be rooted in a desire to know him. We have claimed Jesus as Lord and Savior: we should want to know what this means every day of our lives.
Our invitation today to take part in this meal is guided by Scripture. We are invited to love one another so that Jesus might be pleased. We are invited to judge…Ourselves, so as to gain the maximum benefit from this meal. We are invited to serve one another in love.
In his gospel, John looks at the events of the last Passover meal that Jesus celebrated with his disciples from a different perspective: the story is tied to the washing of the disciple’s feet, teaching Jesus’ followers to do to one another what Jesus has done for them. The meal is also defined by the new command; “Love one another”.
Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another 13:34-35
We are to love one another as Jesus loved us. What does this mean? How has Jesus loved us?
Jesus love is full of care and compassion
Jesus loved others first, not himself
Jesus loved fully, forgiving sins and covering our sins.
Jesus laid down his life for one another.
Later in the evening, Jesus says: My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. 15:12-14
Paul describes love in his letter to the Corinthians. The call is to difficult, challenging, and rewarding work. Love isn’t easy. Love isn’t always a good feeling. Love demands all from us and all of us. Paul writes:
Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 13:4-8
The church, during pastoral transitions, needs to be reminded, that Jesus and the New Testament Scriptures don’t talk a lot about pastoral transitions. They don’t talk a lot about church growth strategies. Jesus says to his disciples that the world will know, when you, his disciples, love one another. Health is found when disciples love one another. The opposite statement also seems to be true: people will not know if you are Christ’s disciples if you do not love one another.
You are invited to love. You are invited to judge yourself.
Paul tells the church in Corinth that he has no praise for them when it comes to their celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Their meetings were harmful, full of divisions and people looking to win, people rushing to indulge themselves rather than help their neighbor.
Earlier in his letter, Paul wrote: Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in this body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. 10:16-17
Early New Testament celebrations of the meal were literally that. It wasn’t a small piece of bread and a tiny cup. It was a full meal in someone's home. The divisions in Paul’s time seem to be social and economic. The hosts of the meal would invite the entire congregation, but have a private meal for their close friends into an inner room. The other people of the congregation were allowed to be out in the atrium. Some had a full meal, eating in front of others who were hungry. The celebration had long forgotten Jesus.
These actions did not bring praise to God, but rather disdain to God for his gift of community. Eating and drinking while having other people watch and wait for you brought humiliation to the community. Paul teaches that these people had better look at themselves. It would be better if they looked at themselves and changed their ways rather than face the judgment of God. This meal was about more than any individual, it was a celebration of the Lord.
We are invited to love one another. We are invited to judge ourselves. We are invited to serve one another in love.
In Luke’s gospel, we read of that first Lord’s Supper. We are familiar with the announcement by Jesus that one will betray him and a discussion arose as to who that would be. But we are less familiar that a second discussion arose within the group. It wasn’t ‘who would betray’, but ‘who will be the greatest among them’.
The greatest isn’t the kings of the earth, or the lords over the gentiles. The greatest isn’t the people who proclaim themselves as the benefactors while in positions of authority. The greatest isn’t even the one who sits at the table during the feast. The greatest is the one who serves. Let us serve one another in love.
At this table, we meet the one who served the fullest extent possible. He laid down his life for us, so that we might become children of God.
John writes in his first letter about love and judgment and service:
God is love. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because God first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother or sister, they are a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God, who they have not seen. And God has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother or sister. I John 4:16