Pastor Terry Inman
The most familiar sports brand in the world is probably Nike. When you see the Nike logo the first thing that comes to mind is the axiom “just do it”. This year we have been in a “just do it” kind of mode.
For instance more people are getting baptized that ever before. They “just do it” in response to Jesus’ instruction. Mark 16.16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Baptism makes our faith visible. If you haven’t done it yet you can just do it next week!
A couple weeks ago we launched another just do it challenge. You could call this one “just try it.” We are taking tithing for a test drive. God says, “Bring your full tithe (10%) to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams.” Malachi 3.10 (MSG)
Today the message comes from something Jesus said, “DO THIS”! 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.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 1Cor. 11:23- 26 (NIV
The church in the city of Corinth was celebrating the Lord’s Supper in what they called a love feast. Unfortunately it wasn’t very loving. It had lost its meaning and had become a social event that excluded some and tolerated compromise by others.
The wealthy were not sharing their food with the poor and people were partaking of the communion while sacrificing food to pagan idols. So the apostle Paul sets the record straight.
He warned them of the consequences of dishonoring and depreciating communion with their divisive relationships and divided loyalties to God.
Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 1Corinthians 11.27 (NIV)
Paul doesn’t exclude genuine followers of Jesus from communion but he does tell us that we should take a personal inventory of our relationships with God and one another. He writes…
A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 1Cor. 11.28-29
So let’s DO THIS not out of ritual but respect for Jesus and each other!
Our church actually observes two ordinances, Water Baptism and Holy Communion. An ordinance is an order, something prescribed by authorities. We have many city ordinances in Fremont. They tell us what we can and cannot do as part of this community.
Water Baptism and Holy Communion were both ordered by Jesus Christ himself as ways we express our life in His community the church. Both of these observances are more than religious ceremonies they are real spiritual experiences. They help us identify with the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Baptism is our introduction or initiation into Christ. Galatians 3.26 says, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
It is also our spiritual identification with his death and resurrection. “All of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:3-4 (NIV)
Holy Communion also called, “The Lord’s Supper” is a continual reminder or our connection with Christ and His body the Church. Jesus intended this ordinance to be observed frequently.
So what’s so holy about communion? Communion is a combination of two words common and union. It suggests unity, intimacy, empathy, connection, sharing, and fellowship. The Greek word for this is koinonia it literally means partnership or participation.
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. 1Corinthians 10.16 (NIV
Let’s talk about the bread for a moment. Bread was the common stable at every mid-eastern table. It was the centerpiece. We eat it with our meal but then it was the whole meal. It was baked and bought daily.
That’s why the Lord’s Prayer says, “Give us this day our daily bread”. It was considered a necessity of life.” But bread was more than physical sustenance. It was a symbol of community.
There was no fast food. Meals were more than feeding frenzies. They were the place for intimate fellowship with family and friends. Meals would last the whole evening. Meals were communal. They were shared events.
The emerging church of Jesus Christ became one large extended family. “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” Acts 4:46 (NIV)
This is not necessarily Holy Communion even though it may have included that. Just sharing bread together was socially sacred.
Bread was such a powerful symbol of community that business contracts would be sealed not by signatures but by breaking bread together. That’s why Jesus gave thanks, broke the bread and told his disciples that it represented his new covenant or his new relationship with them.
At one point in his ministry Jesus declared himself to be the bread of life. Just as bread was a to necessity to sustain physical life He is a essential to our spiritual life. We must be consumers of Christ!
Just to give you some idea of how communal the breaking of bread really was let me remind you of the story of the two followers of Jesus grieving his loss on the road to Emmaus.
After his resurrection Jesus joined them unrecognized. He entered into the dialog. He corrected their misconceptions about his death and resurrection and reminded them of the prophetic scriptures. Toward evening he joined them for a meal. I love this part of the story.
Luke says, “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24.30 (NIV)
Partaking of the representative bread of communion literally “opens our eyes and warms our hearts” to the intimate presence of Christ. There is even a hint of this in the Old Testament. The bread on the alter in the temple was called the “bread of presence”
So when Jesus sat down with his disciples to celebrate his last traditional Passover Seder he expressed his desire for this communion with them. He said, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” Luke 22.15 (NIV)
Bread was a significant part of the Passover meal. It was to be unleavened or made with out yeast. Bread made with yeast took much longer to raise. God’s people were told to get out of Egypt in a hurry.
Yeast was also a symbol of sin. They were to get rid of all of it prior to their flight to freedom. Paul says, “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. 1Corinthians 5.7-8 (NIV)
Unleavened bread with out yeast became a vivid symbol of deliverance. Jesus blood purifies and forgives us Jesus broken body heals and frees us!
DO THIS…take the bread break the bread share the bread. Remember His body was broken for our healing. He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53.5 (NIV)
Now let’s finish with some thoughts about the cup. Again near the end of a time-honored Passover tradition, Jesus lifted the third cup known as the cup of thanksgiving or blessing and gave it a whole new meaning.
He was not telling them to discontinue the Passover celebration but to now reflect on its fulfillment in him. In Egypt the blood of sacrificial lambs was painted on the doorposts of God’s people so the angel of death would Passover them sparing their firstborn sons.
Jesus is our Passover lamb. His blood is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1.18-19 (NIV)
This cup is a symbol of the greatest sacrifice ever made on our behalf. Jesus even asked His father if there was any other alternative. He fell with his face to the ground and prayed,“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matt. 26.39 (NIV)
So when we drink the cup it’s a toast to our savior. We raise the cup with deep gratitude and we lift our cheers for the only one worthy of all honor and praise. We join the angels in heaven who celebrate continually.
The apostle John who had an open vision of heaven says, “In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Revelation 5.12 (NIV)
So let’s DO THIS let’s break the bread and drink the cup in a way that fully celebrates and connects us with the one who loves us more that we will ever know. The Lord Jesus Christ!