1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ~ 20140810 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
08/10 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 Proclaiming the Lord's Death Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20140810_1cor11_23-26.mp3
23 Ἐγὼ γὰρ παρέλαβον ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου, ὃ καὶ παρέδωκα ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ κύριος Ἰησοῦς ἐν τῇ νυκτὶ ᾗ παρεδίδετο ἔλαβεν ἄρτον 24 καὶ εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ εἶπεν· Τοῦτό μού ἐστιν τὸ σῶμα τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν· τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν. 25 ὡσαύτως καὶ τὸ ποτήριον μετὰ τὸ δειπνῆσαι, λέγων· Τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη ἐστὶν ἐν τῷ ἐμῷ αἵματι· τοῦτο ποιεῖτε, ὁσάκις ἐὰν πίνητε, εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν. 26 ὁσάκις γὰρ ἐὰν ἐσθίητε τὸν ἄρτον τοῦτον καὶ τὸ ποτήριον πίνητε, τὸν θάνατον τοῦ κυρίου καταγγέλλετε, ἄχρι οὗ ἔλθῃ.
1 Corinthians 11 [ESV2011]
17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 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. 23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 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.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.
Paul is confronting the Corinthians abuse of the Lord's supper. Communion was celebrated regularly in the church. The communal meal had become an occasion for discrimination against the poor, where the rich flaunted their luxury and let those who had nothing go hungry. In the first section (17-22), Paul expressed his horror and consternation over their outrageous practices. What they were doing was not in step with the gospel, the message of the cross. So once again he brings them back to the sacrifice of Jesus for others. For the Lord's supper to truly be the Lord's supper, it must be an expression of the gospel, not only in word and symbol, but also in the way they treat one another. The gospel is not only a message to be believed, but also a lifestyle to be lived. The good news of a crucified Messiah must define the Christian life.
In this section, (23-26) Paul takes them back to the event, to the history of the Lord's supper to inform and correct their actions. It is a faulty theology, a flawed understanding of Jesus, who he is, what he came to do, that manifested itself in the abuses that were happening in the church. Then, in verses 27-34 he gives his corrective instructions.
If we keep our eyes on Jesus, it is easy to follow him. It is when we look away that we veer off course.
Paul received from the Lord. LORD in the Old Testament is the translation of YHWH, the great I AM, God's proper name. The New Testament writers refer to Jesus as the Lord. The word 'Lord' means the sovereign, the king, the one in authority. In the next phrase he refers to the Lord Jesus. Jesus is the Master. Jesus is the King. He is the one who has all authority. He is the one we are to follow. He is the one we must obey. He is the one who dictates what takes place in his church and the celebration which he instituted for us to remember him by. The Corinthians need to be reminded who is in charge of the church. The people with influence thought they could run the church however they wanted. They needed to be reminded that Jesus is Lord. He is in charge, he alone is the Lord of his church. Paul, the Apostle, is still under orders. Paul is authorized to pass on only what he has received from the Lord Jesus.
What Paul received from the Lord, he delivered to the churches. He faithfully handed over that which he had been entrusted with. He had been given the truth of an historical event. This is what he passed along to the churches.
This word 'delivered' is the same word translated 'betrayed' later in this verse. 'The Lord Jesus, on the night he was delivered up...'. This is the word used in the gospels to describe what Judas did. But it is also the word used when the chief priests and elders delivered Jesus over to Pilate (Mt.27:2, 18), and of Pilate delivering Jesus to the soldiers to be crucified (Mt.27:26).
But this is not the only way this word is used.
In Romans 8, we are told that it was the Father who delivered Jesus up to be crucified for us.
This fits with what we are told in Isaiah 53.
The Greek translation of the Old Testament uses this word 'delivered up' to translate the last phrase of verse 6. It reads 'and the Lord delivered him up for our sins'. Down in verse 10 we read:
Judas delivered up Jesus to be crucified, but God the Father delivered up his only Son to bear our sins on the cross. We see this in the preaching of the Apostles in the book of Acts
And in the prayers of the early church.
We see yet another side of this in some of the New Testament letters.
The same word appears here. Jesus delivered himself up for me.
Judas delivered Jesus up, the chief priests delivered him up, Pilate delivered him up, but ultimately God the Father delivered up his only Son, and Jesus willingly delivered himself up for our sins.
This night of all nights, when Jesus was delivered up, the Lamb of God who takes away our sins, the fulfillment of the passover sacrifice, in the last passover celebration with his followers,
Jesus thanked his Father for his good gift of provision. Every good gift comes from God, and Jesus was determined to recognize the giver. Jesus, on the night he was being delivered up to be crucified, gave thanks to God. God is the one who provides for all our needs, and God is the one who provided the ultimate sacrifice for us to take away our sin. And Jesus, who would soon cry out 'my God my God, why have you forsaken me' thanked his Father for this provision.
Jesus took bread and broke it. Bread was a common part of every meal. Bread was broken so that it could be shared. This flew in the face of the Corinthian selfishness of the ones who had plenty gorging themselves while those who had nothing went hungry. The Corinthians were taking, taking the best for themselves and leaving some to go with nothing. Jesus was taking, taking bread with thanksgiving, breaking it so he could give it all away, knowing there was plenty for all. Jesus said 'this is my body which is for you'. The commemoration of this selfless act of sacrificial giving had become an opportunity for self centered gluttony and greed.
Jesus offered his own body for others. This was the ultimate selfless act, forfeiting his own life to save the lives of countless others. His own physical body was to be broken, crushed under weight of all our sins. Jesus' death was in essence a substitution. He gave his body for us. He put himself in our place. We deserve to be separated from a good God for eternity, but instead he, the eternal Son was separated from his Father. His death was for me, his body was broken for me.
Jesus commands us to break bread together as a church in remembrance of him. What does it mean to remember someone? In a memorial service, we call that person to mind, reflect on who they were, what they accomplished. Is this what Jesus meant when he told us to 'do this in remembrance of me'? Certainly that is part of it, but is that the whole story? If we look back to the Old Testament, we get a clearer picture of what it means to remember.
In Genesis 8:1, we are told that 'God remembered Noah'. Does this mean that God was preoccupied with other things while the ark was bobbing around on the surface of the water and it suddenly dawned on him that Noah and the animals were in there and might need some help?
Are we expected to believe that God had forgotten about his promises for about 400 years until the people started groaning? When we are told that God remembered Noah, it meant that he was beginning to act for the sake of the one he remembered. When God remembered his covenant promises with the patriarchs in the exodus generation, it meant that he was about to leap into action appropriate to the promises he had made. Remembering involved acting in a certain way. To remember Jesus, who sacrificially gave his life for others, means not only to reflect on him, his character, and his sacrifice, but also to act in a way that corresponds with his sacrifice.
When Moses addressed the generation about to enter the promised land, the generation that had been born free in the wilderness, he said:
That generation had never been slaves in Egypt. But as Moses instructs them how to treat slaves, he asks them to remember that they were slaves in Egypt. Looking toward future generations, Moses gave instructions
These future generations celebrating passover had never been slaves in Egypt. But they were part of God's people, and what God had done for their ancestors, he had done for them. They were to so identify with the exodus generation that they could say 'It is because of what the LORD did for me.' In a much more direct way, we can say 'it is because of what the Lord Jesus did for me when he set me free from my slavery to sin'.
Just as Jesus had taken bread, gave thanks, and served it to his disciples, saying 'this is my body which is for you', now he takes the cup of wine and says 'this cup is the new covenant in my blood'. To understand what Jesus says, we need to understand what a covenant is, and what makes this covenant new. A covenant is a binding committed relationship. Covenants were entered into through a solemn ceremony involving the shedding of blood. Animals were cut in half, and the two parties making the covenant would walk between the animal halves, saying 'if I do not keep my promises, let what was done to these animals be done to me.' God made a covenant with his people when they came out of Egypt. The people promised 'all that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient' (Ex.24:7). God warned Moses that the people will 'whore after foreign gods, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them; they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant' (Deut.31:16, 20). Israel went astray in their hearts. They broke God's covenant with them. But in Jeremiah 31, God promised to make a new covenant with them.
Forgiveness of sins, and God's law written on their hearts. Ezekiel puts it this way:
A new heart and a new spirit, God's Spirit inside, causing them to walk in his ways. No longer external regulations, but now internal transformation. And Jesus says that this new covenant, is the new covenant in his blood. Jesus instituted the covenant, not with the blood of animals, but with his own blood poured out in death. Now that the Holy Spirit is living inside, we have God's power to love him above all else and serve him with our whole heart. Our desires are being transformed so that we want to do what pleases him. The Corinthians in their selfishness, were acting exactly contrary to the new life of the Spirit, which is a life of self-sacrificial love for others.
Proclaiming the Lord's Death
In eating the bread and drinking the cup we preach the message of the cross. The word 'proclamation' is most often used of the preaching of the gospel. From the beginning of this letter, Paul pointed us to the preaching of the cross, the good news of Christ crucified. Now he says that in a right participation in communion, we preach the gospel. How is it that our celebration of the Lord's supper can be an act of proclamation? Paul was very clear in his rebuke, that when one goes hungry and another gets drunk, that is not the Lord's supper. But when we remember Jesus by contemplating his life of self sacrifice and conduct ourselves with the good of others above our own, when we joyfully forgo our own rights so that others can know Christ, when we are willing to lay down our very lives so that others can hear the gospel and be saved, when we remember him by acting in the way that he would act, then we have become a living proclamation of the death of our Lord. We have become a living illustration of the cross, where love expresses itself in self-sacrifice for the good of others.
Until He Comes
This is not indefinite. There is a termination point for this way of remembering Jesus. Jesus is returning. Physically, bodily he will come back. Jesus told many parables about a king who went away for a time and then returned. He was very clear as to how the servants of the king are expected to conduct themselves in the absence of the king. The Master will return. He will find either evidence of self centered pride, or of a life devoted to the Master, transformed by his Spirit, displaying his character.