Communion

1 Corinthians 11:22
“What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God…”

Paul is addressing one of the most important practices of the church and the individual. He will instruct them regarding partaking in communion. Rather than seeing this ordinance as a necessary, and even holy part of their church life, the Corinthian Christians had turned it into a way to honor the wealthy, thus neglecting the poor. It was a common practice in the early church to feast together before communion. In Corinth, they invited the wealthy to eat first and only after they had their fill did the poor get in line. In some cases, the food was gone and the rich were drunk. Suffice it to say, this was not an acceptable practice. Paul is writing to correct their behavior and to instill within them a proper understanding of communion.

“What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God…”

First, Paul points out that coming to the communion table is different from coming to the dinner table. We must come looking for and expecting something different from when we gather to eat. The expectation is we are meeting with Jesus. Communion was not designed as a religious ritual, but as a means of experiencing fellowship with Christ. The last supper, when this ordinance was established, was a very intimate time. The disciples gathered around the table with Jesus as He spoke with them, and it was at that time, John laid his head in Jesus’ lap. Communion is primarily a time to draw near to Christ. It is through the cross we have access to the Throne of Grace, where we meet with God.

“Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

Second, communion is a time of reflection. Jesus said, “do this in remembrance of Me.” The word remember carries the idea of bringing thoughts together or recollecting. Throughout the day we have scattered thoughts about Jesus. Our time with Him is interrupted by responsibility or distraction, but at the communion table we bring our thoughts into the captivity of Christ, and we focus upon what he has done for us. There are five points that we are encouraged to focus upon. First, we should look in. Paul encourages us to examine ourselves. There, with the cross in view, we look at our life to see if our practices are acceptable to God. It is important that this be done in the shadow of the cross, so we do not leave condemned, but forgiven. Are there practices in your life that need to be set aside in light of Christ? Second, we should look back. Communion affords us the opportunity to examine the cross and reflect upon Christ’s great sacrifice. When we see the brutality of the cross, we can then begin to understand the depths of His love. Each time the whip strikes His back, or the nails are driven, it is a reflection of Heaven’s love. Third, we must look up. The cross is not the end, but rather the doorway to heaven’s throne. It is through the cross, we have access to God. We are encouraged to come boldly to the Throne of Grace, where, in daily fellowship, we can receive pardon for sin, and grace to continue on in Christ. We have not only been saved from sin, we are also saved to Christ. We should be experiencing His life flowing into ours. This happens as we access the Throne of Grace. Fourth, we must look forward. Paul spoke of us “proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes.” The great hope of the believer is that Jesus rose from the dead and will return one day for His church. He calls us His bride, and the marriage supper of the Lamb awaits the child of God. Communion should ever remind us, and prepare us, for the return of Jesus. Finally, we should look out. Again, Paul wrote that with communion we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” Communion is the Gospel. Jesus bled and died to save sinners, any and all who receive Him will be forgiven. While communion is a practice for the Christian, it is done in a way to illustrate our need for a savior and to draw men to Christ. The broken bread reminds us of what our sin did to Christ, the cup reminds us of what His blood does for us.

Whenever your church partakes of communion, you should make it a habit to be there, and to bring your unsaved friends.

Pastor Jim

Questions for 1 Corinthians 11

  1. Paul says to imitate him just as he imitates Christ. There are other places that we are told to imitate Christ directly, but the reality remains that the witness of our lives can be a powerful help to showing others what Jesus is like, and how to live for Him. Whose lives are you influencing? Are you living your life in a way that you can say the same thing Paul said here?
  2. In verse 2 and 3 Paul deals with the issue of God’s order, and the authority within that order. In the same way that the Father and the Son were equal but the son was under the authority of the Father, so husbands and wives. What are the benefits of having a clear head of house? What happens when the flesh affects how a person leads? Read Matt 20:20-28 to see how Jesus told us leadership should work.
  3. In verses 4-10, Paul talks about “head coverings”, which were a cultural symbol of being under authority. In essence Paul was saying to live their lives in a way outwardly that showed that inwardly you agreed with and were in line with God’s established order and authority. Are you living in a way that shows people within your culture that you agree with God’s ways?
  4. Although there are differences between men women, we are still equal. Consider verse 11 and 12. In what ways do these verses put us on equal footing?
  5. Verse 13-16 essentially makes a plea to the believer to consider our culture and our witness to it; and to live honoring God in a way that our culture can understand (acknowledging that in some ways we can never please them). Look at verse 16. Does God have a rule that women must wear a head covering? Is it worth fighting over?
  6. In verse 17-19, what is happening when the Corinthians meet together? What bad motivations are driving this? Read Phil 2:1-11 for an antidote to this.
  7. What is happening when the Corinthians take communion together (20-22)? According to Jesus how should we take communion? (He repeats this in verse 24 and 25) Why is this so important (verse 26)?
  8. Paul tells us that we should never take communion in an unworthy manner. This does not mean that we have to be living perfect lives to take communion (Read 1John 1:8-2:1). The rest of the chapter tells us how to take communion in a worthy manner. What things should we do?

 

Old Testament:
Job 7- What Are Words For?
Job 8- Look Back

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