A Special Day for Us

Today is a special day for us. For nearly 2000 years, this day has been commemorated by the disciples of Jesus. In an unbroken chain, disciples have set aside the first day of the week to remember that Jesus died and was resurrected.

On the night of Passover, Jesus gathered with His disciples and partook of that Old Covenant memorial. As they ate their memorial supper, Jesus took some of the unleavened bread, broke it and gave to His disciples telling them it was His body. Then He had them take the fruit of the vine, already divided among them, and told them it was His blood shed for the remission of their sins. He told them as often as they partook of this memorial, they were to remember His death (Luke 22:14-23). Paul explains that when we participate in this same memorial, we are proclaiming the Lord’s death until He comes (I Corinthians 11:26).

This memorial was a central part of the Christian faith and practice. Paul referred to it in I Corinthians 10:16-22. The Christians broke bread and drank the cup of blessing. It was not a meal; it was a memorial and a participation in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. According to Acts 2:42, the disciples were devoted to breaking this bread. They were devoted to remembering and proclaiming Christ’s death through this memorial.

In Acts 20:6-7, we see that Paul, though in a hurry to get to Jerusalem for Pentecost (Acts 20:16), waited for an entire week in order to gather with the disciples to break bread, that is, to remember Jesus in this memorial. He waited in order to partake of this memorial on the first day of the week with the disciples. He did not wait for a quarterly or an annual observance. He waited until the first day of the week and the disciples gathered then to break bread.

In I Corinthians 11:20, Paul rebuked the Corinthian church because when they were gathering together they were not partaking in the Lord’s Supper. They had corrupted the memorial and were not doing what they were supposed to when they gathered. This explains that when the Corinthians church was assembling, they were supposed to take the Supper. In I Corinthians 16:2, we see that the Corinthian church gathered on the first day of the week, otherwise they could not gather a collection so that there would be no collecting when Paul came.

We are gathered today to edify one another, to worship God, and to proclaim the Lord’s death on the same day of the week on which Jesus resurrected. Every first day of the week, we gather to do this. If you are our guest, we welcome you to remember that Jesus died and was resurrected, not because this is a special holy day to be observed annually, but because this is the first day of the week. It is the day our Savior was resurrected. It is the day His disciples have remembered His death and resurrection for 2000 years. We are excited to once again recall what Jesus did for us. We are excited to proclaim to you that God became flesh, dwelt among us, died among us and was resurrected among us. May we glorify Him until He returns.

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The Lord’s Supper: Do This In Remembrance of Jesus

We are human and tend to forget things. I will illustrate this by challenging you to tell me your great grandparents name, what they did for a living, and where all of them are buried. Perhaps some can, but most cannot, and they are our family. God in all of his wisdom knew men forget. When he sent his son to die the terrible death on the cross for us, he wanted to make sure we would never forget this great sacrifice. Christ shed his blood on the cross so we can have forgiveness of our sins. In 1 Peter 1:18-19 we read, “For as much as ye know that they were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, But with the precious blood of Christ as a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 

Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper

In Matthew 26: 26-29 Christ instituted the Lords supper while he was with his disciples. “And as they were eating Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them saying ‘take eat this is my body.’ Then he took the cup, and gave thanks and gave it to them saying, ‘Drink from it all of you. For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’”

Christ wanted us to remember his suffering

We know Christ desired to be remembered, for Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25,  “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which he was betrayed took bread. And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘take eat; this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me In the same manner he also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. This do, as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.’”

How often to partake of this Memorial Feast

We must be regular in our observance of his supper. There are religious groups that observe the Lord’s Supper once a year, and others quarterly. Some people say the Lord’s Supper becomes too common and means little to us if we observe it every Sunday. I completely disagree with them. I believe this memorial feast does not become tiresome or lose its importance if it means anything to us. Things that we treasure and love become more precious with us and more enduring with the passing of time. We find written in Acts 20:7 the early disciples came together on the first day of the week to break bread. It is very important to partake of this memorial on the first day of each and every week.

The Lords Supper must be observed Reverently

When we attend a memorial service of a family member or friend, we would never think about whispering, talking, and laughing with others. We should not dishonor our Savior by doing these things as we partake of the Lord’s Supper. We read in 1 Corinthians 11:28-29, “But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself not discerning the Lords body.” 

We must focus on Redemption

What a joy and comfort to a sinner who is outside of the body of Christ to realize that it makes no difference how many sins they have committed, or how bad a life style they have lived, the blood of Christ can wash away their sins. Isaiah 1:18 says, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be crimson they shall be as wool.

Observed with Gratitude to Christ

How do we thank someone who was scorned, beaten, humiliated, and nailed to a cross to die so we can have our sins forgiven? We can live our life in service to Christ; we should become a living sacrifice in our worship to him. Every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we remember all the suffering he did for us. Jesus said Do this in remembrance of Me.

–Don Adair

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The Lord’s Supper was not a Common Meal

As eating becomes a more and more important part of American culture, churches are trying to make eating a more important part of the church culture. For years, fellowship meals and fellowship halls have been deemed an integral part of really being a church-despite the utter lack of scriptural authority for the church to accomplish these tasks. In recent years, this desire to make eating part of the church’s work has stepped up a notch. No longer do we simply hear about fellowship, we hear this is what the Lord’s Supper was really about. In fact, even recently an anonymous commenter on this blog claimed the way we at the Franklin church participate in the Lord’s Supper “doesn’t even come close to replicating the NT common meal.”

Frankly, I’m at a loss. I’ve searched my Bible repeatedly and yet to find any place that shows the Lord’s Supper was properly taken as a common meal. However, I’ve heard the three arguments posited for it and I will show what I believe the Bible actually says here.

Argument #1: When Jesus established the Lord’s Supper with the apostles, it was part of a larger common meal.

No doubt, Jesus established the Lord’s Supper during His observance of the Passover with the 12 (cf. Matthew 26:17-29). However, we need to note two very important things.

1) The Passover is hardly a common meal. It was an Old Testament memorial. What a perfect time to establish the New Testament memorial.

2) As the disciples ate the Passover, they were not participating in the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper was not the Passover lamb with all of its trimmings. The Lord’s Supper was the bread Jesus broke among them and told them to eat in memory of Him. It was the fruit of the vine He divided among them and told to drink in memory of Him.

Jesus did not tell the disciples to eat the Passover in memory of Him and then take the Lord’s Supper in the midst of it also in memory of Him. He used this period of Old Testament memorial to establish a new memorial. If we want to take that memorial, we will eat the bread and drink the fruit of the vine in memory of Him as He charged the apostles.

Argument #2: In I Corinthians 11:17-34, the Corinthians were clearly doing more than just eating some bread and drinking some fruit of the vine. They were having meals in which people could get full, in fact stuffed.

This argument most amazes me. Obviously the Corinthians were going beyond taking the Lord’s Supper. But Paul is rebuking them here. In fact, as you read the context, his very rebuke is that they weren’t eating the Lord’s Supper, they were eating their own supper. They had turned the Lord’s Supper into a common meal and Paul rebukes them.

I’ve heard all kinds of arguments from this text. I’ve heard folks say Paul’s point was not about the eating of the meal but about their attitudes and selfishness. No doubt, he rebuked their attitude and selfishness. However, I just can’t get past a few of his statements.

“What! Do you not have houses 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 commend you in this? No, I will not” (I Corinthians 11:22). Yes, I see that he rebuked them for humiliating those who had nothing. However, his direction was not simply to share better at this supposed common meal. His direction was for them to eat their meals at home. The Lord’s Supper is a memorial, not a meal.

“If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home–so that when you come together it will not be for judgment” (I Corinthians 11:34). I’ve heard the attempts to get around this verse. To me they ring empty. They smack of those who want to deny the plain statement of scripture. This verse doesn’t say, “If you’re really, really hungry, take the edge off at home,” as those who turn the Lord’s Supper into a common meal claim. It simply says, “If you are hungry, eat at home.” In other words, if you want a meal that is about your hunger, eat at home. The Lord’s Supper is about remembering the Lord. It is not about having a common meal.

To turn the Lord’s Supper into a common meal is not following an approved example in the New Testament. Instead, it is following an explicitly condemned example.

Argument #3: The love feasts were clearly common meals and we have historical records that prove those feasts were how the early church partook of the Lord’s Supper.

I have dealt with this question in more depth elsewhere on this site. However, I will say simply this. Please, stay within scripture and prove what the love feasts of Jude 12 is. The mere fact that we have to go to historical records of the second and third centuries to turn these love feasts into common meals held by the church should say something to us. If these feasts were so obviously common meals combined with the Lord’s Supper, we would think we might find some more scriptures that show that.

Please, don’t just toss out “love feast” without giving some biblical proof about what that is. 

To see the reasons why this argument falls short of turning the Lord’s Supper into a common meal. See the sermon presented on February 15, 2004: What Are Love Feasts?

As always, we are just trying to see what was authorized in the New Testament. We need more than just a declaration by fiat that the Lord’s Supper was a common meal or part of a common meal in the New Testament. We need some kind of actual proof from Scripture that was the case.

If I’ve missed something here, please feel free to let us know.

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Remember Jesus’ Death Every Sunday through His Supper

The night Jesus was betrayed, He gathered His 12 closest disciples in an upper room. Together they ate the Passover, remembering the great deliverance of their ancestors from Egyptian bondage. While in the midst of this Old Covenant memorial, Jesus instituted a memorial for His New Covenant. Paul called it the Lord’s Supper in I Corinthians 11:20.

According to Luke 22:19-20, Jesus took bread and fruit of the vine. He told the disciples to eat the bread because it was His flesh given for them. He told them to drink the juice because it was the new covenant in His blood. He said they were to eat the bread and drink the juice in remembrance of Him.

It was a new memorial for a new covenant. Of course, they weren’t actually participating in the memorial itself because they had nothing yet to remember. Jesus hadn’t yet given His body or shed His blood. Jesus was simply showing them what they were to do when the New Covenant was established. When they actually took the Supper, it would be in memory of Jesus.

When did they actually take the Supper? According to Acts 20:7, the disciples gathered together to break bread on the first day of the week. I can’t help but notice that Paul was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem (Acts 20:16), however, he apparently arrived in Troas on a Monday and waited to meet with the church there for seven days until they gathered to take the Supper. If Paul was in such a hurry, why didn’t he just gather the disciples together earlier in the week to take the Supper? They were waiting for the first day of the week to partake in the New Covenant Memorial.

In I Corinthians 11:20, Paul rebuked the Corinthian church because when they were gathering together they were eating there own supper instead of the Lord’s. (By the way, this demonstrates the Lord’s Supper is not a meal to assuage hunger, but a memorial to honor Jesus.) Paul rebuked the Corinthians because they were not eating the Lord’s Supper when they came together. When did they come together? I Corinthians 16:2 demonstrates the Corinthian church was meeting on Sundays. The church was to collect funds for the needy saints in Jerusalem so when Paul arrived he would not have to collect funds. They were clearly gathering every first day of the week. When they came together, they were supposed to be eating the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus wants us not only to remember His death but to memorialize it. However, unlike the Old Testament Passover, His memorial is not an annual observance but a weekly one. On the Lord’s Day, we gather to eat the Lord’s Supper, to remember, to rejoice, to refresh. Let’s not weaken this with an annual celebration. Let’s strengthen it by following the example established in the New Testament. If we are eating the Lord’s Supper, let it be the Lord’s Day; if it is the Lord’s Day, let us eat the Lord’s Supper.

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