COMMUNION: INSULT OR HONOR?
Has something at some time completely changed your life and who you are?
Probably. Many of us have a list of different things that totally redirected our lives and
changed who we were.
Examples? It might be something as simple as an event: a graduation, or
marriage, or the birth of a child. It might have involved a person: a teacher, a mentor, a
counselor, or a neighbor. It might have involved an act of grace that centered in a second
chance opportunity, an illness, a disaster, or a death.
- Christians in the New Testament powerfully had their lives changed.
- They understood that God changed everything when He made Jesus the Christ.
- God spiritually changed the world when He made Jesus the Christ.
- At that very moment, God made it possible for him to be just and to forgive
the sins of every person on earth.
- At that very moment, God was totally free to use His mercy and His grace
without restriction through out every nation.
- God completely changed life when He made Jesus the Christ.
- The changes that occurred in lives when people became Christians could
not happen before God made Jesus the Christ.
- Every joy, every blessing, every assurance, every promise they had as
Christians did not exist before God made Jesus the Christ.
- Eternity changed when God made Jesus the Christ.
- Before God made Jesus the Christ, death was to be feared.
- After God made Jesus the Christ, death became the door to eternal life.
- In the New Testament, the Christian who understood what God did when He
made Jesus the Christ also understood who and what he or she would be if there
was no Christ.
- The Christian knew who and what he/she would be if Jesus had not come.
- He or she knew who and what he/she would be if Jesus had not become the
- How could they know and understand that so clearly?
- Simply because many of them lived before God made Jesus the Christ.
- They had lived in a world that had no Christ.
- God directly intervened in the affairs of the world by Jesus the Christ, and He
designed the Christ to do at least four things.
- Jesus Christ was designed by God to change the world; the world would never
be the same after Jesus died and was resurrected.
- Jesus Christ was designed by God to change human life; no person who
understood what God did and trusted what God did would ever be the same.
- Jesus Christ was designed by God to change relationships.
- God and believers would share a relationship that had never existed
- Believers who belonged to Jesus would relate to people in new ways with a
new kind of love and respect.
- Jesus Christ was designed by God to change eternity.
- By making Jesus the Christ, God defeated Satan.
- By making Jesus the Christ, God made it possible for the judgment to be a
time of mercy as well as a time of condemnation.
- Never, never were Christians to forget the importance of what God did when
He made Jesus the Christ.
- "Well, David, when did God make Jesus the Christ?"
- First, God sacrificed the physical life and blood of Jesus on the cross to be a
sin offering for us.
- Second, God raised Jesus from the dead to be the Christ.
- Third, when Jesus ascended into heaven God placed him on the throne to rule
until the day of judgment.
- "Are you sure?" That is what scripture says.
Acts 2:36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him
both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified."
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
- You killed him.
- God made him Lord and Christ.
- The night before he was killed, Jesus designed a simple memorial to be a
continual reminder of what God and Jesus accomplished.
- Jesus established a living memorial to the significance of his sacrifice.
- We commonly refer to that memorial as the Lord's supper or communion.
- Jesus established this memorial as he ate his last meal (prior to death) with
- Luke 22 states at least three times that this meal was the Jewish Passover
- While this is a very simple memorial (in no way elaborate), it is filled with powerful
symbolism (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14;22-25; Luke 22:19,20).
- Jesus based the memorial on the two foods that sustained life throughout the
Mediterranean world at that time: bread and the juice of the grape.
- Bread and wine sustained life in the world as they knew it.
- Just as bread and wine sustained daily life, Jesus sustains daily life.
- I understand this meal to be an observance of the Jewish Passover.
- God commanded that Israel without fail should observe this meal once a
year on the date that they left the slavery of Egypt (Exodus 12:1-14;
- The Jewish Passover celebrates their deliverance from Egyptian slavery.
- The Lord's supper symbolizes a greater deliverance: God gave the world
the opportunity to escape the slavery of sin.
- Jesus said that the bread was to be a continual reminder of his body.
- He said the juice of the grape was to be a continual reminder of his blood.
- Every time they observed this memorial they were to remember Jesus.
- The juice of the grape not only represented his blood, but it declared that
God was making a new agreement, a new covenant because Jesus' blood
would be sacrificed to destroy sin (Matthew 26:28)
- Forty-nine days after Jesus' resurrection, Peter presented to a Jerusalem
multitude the fact that Jesus was the Christ.
- Christians now understood, and they never wanted to forget.
- Eternal forgiveness existed as an established fact when God made Jesus the
- New life in Jesus was a reality because God made Jesus the Christ.
- A new relationship with God that never existed began because God made
Jesus the Christ.
- Those who placed their lives in Jesus by trusting what God had done were
delivered from the judgment of condemnation by being made children of God.
- All evidence and information that we have verifies that early Christians met to
share this memorial each first day of the week.
- Sunday was the day Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
- That is why every Sunday we share this memorial.
- We just want to be Christians, nothing more and nothing less.
- When Paul explained communion to the Christians at Corinth (1 Corinthians
11:17-34), he said the Lord's supper served these specific purposes.
- It promoted unity among Christians by reminding them of what Christ has done
for each one of them (1 Corinthians 11:17-22).
- It declared their faith in the fact the Jesus died for them (1 Corinthians 11:26).
- It declared their faith in the fact that the resurrected Jesus would someday
return (1 Corinthians 11:26).
- Paul said that every time a Christian takes communion, he or she either
remembers Jesus and thereby honors God, or he or she insults God in the
manner communion is taken and passes judgment on himself or herself.
- Nothing is more serious than what happens in our hearts and minds as we
- We can do nothing that is of greater insult to God than to take communion
without having our hearts and minds focused on Jesus.
- We honor God and Jesus when we take communion in remembrance of him.
- At this time, may we remember Jesus and honor God.
[The congregation takes the Lord's supper together.]
- Communion is both simple and difficult.
- The most difficult communion challenge I ever faced I encountered almost on a
weekly basis in West Africa when I took communion with the Christians there.
- In the rural areas where I was, grains that make bread were not grown; they did
not eat bread; they had no baking ovens of any kind.
- Grapes did not grow there; the only grape juice available was the cheapest
wine you can imagine.
- There was no refrigeration, so the cheap wine turned to vinegar in the tropical
heat in about a week, and I cannot describe the taste.
- Due to poverty, they drank from a single glass; to honor missionaries, they
served us last.
- From experience, I know it is much easier to create habits, traditions, and rituals
than it is to think and feel.
- It is much easier to stress procedures and details than to focus on content and
- May I illustrate that fact?
- If we served loaf bread in communion this morning, many would be angry
- Does the New Testament command us to use bread without yeast? No.
- Do the actual words of scripture place emphasis on the kind of bread
we use? No.
- Why do we use bread without yeast?
- Because Jesus was eating the Jewish Passover meal when he
instituted the Lord's supper.
- In the Passover meal it was specifically commanded that the Jewish
people use bread without yeast (Exodus 12:8).
- We correctly conclude that Jesus used bread without yeast.
- Because we want to do what they did, we use bread without yeast.
- I certainly agree that is appropriate.
- We would be very upset if loaf bread was used when the actual words of the
New Testament place no emphasis on the kind of bread used.
- But many are not bothered when the emphasis is on "getting communion
over with as quickly as possible."
- "What can we do to shorten communion time so we can dismiss
- "We are not going to beat the crowd to the restaurant today."
- "We are going to miss the first quarter of the ball game."
- "We just will not have time for all we planned this afternoon."
- The New Testament does say clearly, plainly, that if our minds and hearts
are not focused on remembering Jesus we are guilty of killing Jesus, and
we pass judgment on ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:27,29).
- We can be very emotional about matters the New Testament says little or
nothing about, and very indifferent about matters it emphasizes.
- The fact that we can do that should deeply concern us.
In Jerusalem, Peter spoke to some of the people who shouted for the death of
Jesus. He used evidence they accepted to prove that God made Jesus Lord and Christ.
Many of them believed Peter's evidences and cried out, "What should we do?"
Peter told them that if they wanted forgiveness, they needed to repent and be baptized
Do you believe that God made Jesus the Christ? Will you accept the forgiveness
you need and that God offers you? If you believe, will you repent and be baptized?
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 3 October 1999
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