The Lord's SupperJuly 31-August 4
The Supper of Salvation – Respond!
And the master said to the servant, “Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.” – Luke 14:23-24 (ESV)
On Sunday, July 20, 1969, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed their lunar module, the Eagle, on the Sea of Tranquillity. The first thing they did was to celebrate Communion. However, because of a lawsuit filed by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, when NASA aired the reading from Genesis by the astronauts of Apollo 8, it decided to black out that part of the broadcast. Aldrin, an elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), took out a Communion kit provided by Webster Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas. In the one-sixth gravity, the wine curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Just before eating the bread and drinking the cup, Aldrin read from the gospel of John: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (Source: Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker)
In Luke 14, Jesus paints the picture of God’s invitation to salvation as an invitation to a heavenly feast. Some of those who were invited rejected the invitation but some of those who were invited accepted the invitation. God desires all people everywhere to be saved. However, everyone must make the decision to respond to God’s invitation for salvation. Those who reject Jesus reject salvation.
Who first invited you to receive Jesus as your Savior? Did you accept the invitation right away? Who have you recently invited to receive Jesus as their Savior?
Thank God for the person who first introduced you to Jesus and for inviting you to be a part of God’s family. Ask God to soften the hearts of the lost people in your life to accept Jesus’ invitation to be saved.
The Supper of Commemoration – Remember!
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 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.” – 1 Corinthians 11:24-25 (ESV)
A small country church in Wisconsin has a special tradition that they have used at the close of their communion services for a number of years. It is adapted from an ancient Jewish closing of the Passover meal. Since it is the hope of every devout Jew to celebrate the Passover at least once in David’s city, the Jewish custom is to end the meal with a toast. Passover participants raise the cup and say, “Next year, in Jerusalem!”
The cup in the Lord’s Supper serves as two reminders: we are to look back to the shed blood of Christ and forward to the Lord’s second coming and meeting Him in heaven. In other words, for all Christians, there will be a last sharing of the bread and the cup on this side of eternity: when they meet once again, they will be in Christ’s presence. At the close of communion, the members of this church raise their cups in anticipation and say, “Next time, with Christ!” (Today in the Word)
Jesus never asked His disciples to remember His birth. But He did instruct them to remember His death and resurrection. Dr. Warren Wiersbe notes that when Jesus said, “This is my body,” and, “This is my blood,” he did not transform either the bread or the wine into anything different. When the disciples ate the bread, it was still bread; when they drank the wine, it was still wine. However, the Lord gave a new meaning to the bread and the wine, so that, from that hour, they would serve as memorials of his death.
What are some of your favorite church memories? What makes communion a unique tradition for you?
Thank God for the memory you have of your conversion experience and the sacrifice Jesus made to make your salvation possible. Ask God to help you live in such a way that you honor the broken body and spilled blood of Jesus.
The Supper of Celebration – Rejoice!
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” – Revelation 19:7-9 (ESV)
Three times a month, Jermaine Washington and Michelle Stevens get together for what they call a “gratitude lunch.” With good reason! Washington donated a kidney to Stevens, whom he described as “just a friend.” They met at work where they used to have lunch together. One day Michelle wept as she spoke about waiting on a kidney donor list for 11 months. She was being sustained by kidney dialysis, but suffered chronic fatigue and blackouts and was plagued by joint pain. Because Washington couldn’t stand the thought of watching his friend die, he gave her one of his kidneys. When you’ve got something great to be thankful for, having a “gratitude lunch” is a great way to celebrate. (Today in the Word)
The Bible pictures heaven as a wedding celebration. The church is the bride of Christ and we are being prepared for our eternal union with Jesus. Part of the heavenly picture in Revelation 19 is the celebration of the “marriage supper of the Lamb.” Communion is a small picture of the celebration to come in heaven.
What is your favorite annual celebration? How do you celebrate that day? In what ways was taking communion this past Sunday a celebration?
Thank God for preparing you and the church as His bride. Thank Him for clothing you in righteousness. Ask God to show you how you can celebrate your relationship with Him this week.
The Supper of Proclamation
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. – 1 Corinthians 11:26 (ESV)
A stranger entered a church while the sermon was in progress, and he took a seat on the back row. After he’d been there for a while, he leaned forward and tapped an elderly man in front of him. The older member looked back at the stranger. “How long has he been preaching?” whispered the newcomer. “Oh, about 40 years, I think,” said the member. “Very well, I shall stay,” said the stranger, “for by this time, he must be almost finished.”
The word proclaim in 1 Corinthians 11:26 means to preach. Every time you partake in the Lord’s Supper you are preaching the gospel. You are preaching the good news of a Savior whose body and blood provide the answer to the greatest need man has which is the forgiveness of sins and acceptance by God. You are preaching the gospel to your children, to your friends, and to those around you in the hopes that they will say “Why do you do that?” or “Why can’t I do that?” so you can answer them and lead them into God’s kingdom.
When friends and coworkers ask you what you did this past weekend, do you mention church? If so, when is the last time that conversation led to you sharing why you go to church? If not, why don’t you talk about going to church as a conversation starter?
Thank God for the privilege you have to partner with Him in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus to other people. Ask God to give you clarity and courage to share the Good News with the people He brings into your life who need to hear.
The Supper of Examination
So, then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself; in this way let him eat the bread and drink from the cup. For whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. – 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 (ESV)
Those who have a yearly check-up with a dermatologist know the importance of self-examination. The doctor may see a spot and tell you to keep an eye on it. He may tell you that if it changes color or becomes more irregular, you must call him (or her) for further evaluation; perhaps a biopsy or surgery will be required.
Self-examination can be a life-or-death experience. That applies not only to our physical life but more importantly, it also applies to our spiritual life. 1 Corinthians 11:28 reminds us to examine ourselves before we take part in the Lord’s supper. Scripture repeatedly calls us to examine ourselves. In 2 Corinthians 13:5, the Apostle Paul writes, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” Taking the Lord’s Supper as an unbeliever makes a mockery of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
If the Bible’s words give you any cause for pause, then, take the time to reflect. Ask yourself, “Is there something missing in my spiritual life?”
Thank God for His mercy and forgiveness of sins through your faith in Jesus. Ask God to show you any areas of your life that are inconsistent with your profession of faith in Jesus.