November 02, 2014
I Cor. 11:17-34
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
Some meals have rules, and sometimes when multiple families come together for a meal those family rules can collide. Similarly, our family faith backgrounds can collide at the Lord’s Table (Communion, Eucharist). Hopefully this sermon and the next will help the Lord’s Table to become clearer in its meaning and rules, so that it becomes more a place where we experience worship and the gospel of grace.
Today in I Cor. 11:17-34, where Paul is correcting some misbehavior of the Corinthian Gentile church at the Lord’s Table, we will look at three things the Lord’s Table is NOT.
The Lord’s Table is not for members only. There are no passages in Scripture encouraging us to construct extra hoops for people to jump through before they take communion .. not one. The online requirement for the table is that this is the expression of a living faith in the saving grace of Jesus.
The Lord’s Table is not the literal Body of Christ. Jesus is spiritually present in communion, but the primary meaning is that the bread and wine represent his body, not that they are his body. In addition to the meaning of Christ’s physical body (which was sacrificed for us), there is a second meaning (which was given to us) of the body of the Church, its world wide members. We honor Christ by regarding the body of Christ (both the rich and the poor), not mistreating each other.
The Lord’s Table is not for the worthy. The NIV translates I Cor. 11:27 as eating and drinking “in an unworthy manner.” The Corinthians’ unworthy manner was dividing the Body of Christ into the “have-nots” and the “haves”. God calls us all to find grace at this one table, not because we have made ourselves worthy but because we receive worthiness from it. Christ’s blood (symbolized by the cup) was shed for the forgiveness of our sins, giving us a new covenant with God. We do not make ourselves worthy simply by our own actions of self-examination or confessing our sins. Our worth is now based on the worthiness of Jesus through our faith in Him.