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1 Corinthians 11 - Remembrance and Communion (G.G.)

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This is an opinion article from a user of WikiChristian.

By Graham Llewellyn Grove, November 2007. A link to the original article can be found here.

Good evening everyone

Who remembers what our current sermon series is on?

(Wait for responses)

Yep, it's on the passages in the Bible that specifically call on us to "Remember" something or other

As Frank said last week, there seem to be some parts of the Bible that you read that seem particular important to stop and take special notice of

Yeah the whole Bible is important as God's word that has come through human hand and been inspired by the Holy Spirit

But still, some parts grab you as extra important

And the command of Jesus to remember on the night before he was executed I think fit into this category


I sometimes find myself in the kitchen or yard when I suddenly wonder “what on earth am I doing here?” having forgotten the reason

I'm sure that happens to everyone else right?

I once actually met a man who couldn't form new memories

He had been a heavy drinker, so heavy that he didn't eat any real food for a few months solidly, and so he became deficient in the vitamin thiamine

You know thiamine, that's one of those vitamins in Nutri-Grain that they love to spiel off in the ads

I bet you never really that impressed by it having thiamine in it - I mean big deal!

Well actually, thiamine does turn out to be rather important

Because if you don't eat any for a couple of months some of the nerves in your brain start to die

And you get confused

And if still don't get some thiamine in you for a few more days, the damage can become permanent and irreversible

And one of the key long-term problems you get if this happens to you, is that you can't make new memories

You can remember things that happened years ago, but, from that day forth, you can't seem to make new memories

Anyway, this guy was only about 50 years old and because he could not longer make new memories, he lived in a nursing home with 24-hour care

He'd wake in the morning in the bed he had slept in for the last 2 years, yet the surroundings we're completely new to him every day

He'd wander out and a nurse would meet him and direct him to the breakfast table, or back to his room, or to the TV

5 minutes later, he'd look around and realize he didn't recognize where he was, and a nurse wandering by would direct him back to his room or back to the TV

So as I walked past him I was introduced to him

5 minutes later I knocked on his door and he opened it and said: - "Hello, who might you be?"

There was a picture on his wall of a woman with a toddler - the woman was his daughter, the toddler was his grandson who had been born a year ago

"Who's in the picture" I asked him

"Well, the woman is my daughter but I don't know who the baby is"

He could remember everything from before he developed the brain damage - but he could remember nothing after it – although he had been told dozens of times he had a grandson, he could never remember it...

For this poor man, he would look at the picture of the baby, but it meant nothing to him and so it was irrelevant for him 


Being able to remember something is crucial for it to have meaning and for it to have the right purpose

If I can’t remember why I’m doing something or what the meaning behind it is, then it becomes irrelevant...


Tonight we're looking at a passage in the Bible that talks about the Lord's Supper

There may be some people here who don't know what the Lord's Supper is and so I'll briefly describe it

It has other names that you’ll likely be familiar with



And it is an event that most Christians take part in at church on a regular basis

In it, each person eats a piece of bread and drinks a little wine or grape-juice

At some churches, the people take part in the Lord's Supper every week

At All Nations we usually do it every months


And remembering is something that is very important to the Lord's Supper

Take a look at verse 24 which records the actual words of Jesus

Jesus broke some bread and handed it to his followers to eat and said

Do this to remember me

Then in verse 25 he passed around a cup of wine for his followers to drink and he said

Do this to remember me

Jesus twice asked his followers to follow this example for the purpose of remembering him

(Change slide)

Nicole and I visited this church overseas a few years ago

You can see the two priests at the front with their backs to the camera and a few of the congregation members standing up behind them

In the picture one of the priest is actually conducting the Lord's Supper

He's saying some words whilst holding the bread

The problem for us was that he was speaking in another language which Nicole and I couldn't understand

Unfortunately the problem for the congregation was the same - because the priest was speaking in an ancient language that they didn't understand either

Plus he's not facing the people and personally interacting with them

Now he might be remembering Jesus and this new covenant that Jesus spoke about, but I’m not sure he's really helping the people in his congregation to be remembering Jesus...


Now I don't want to sound too negative about the priest - he has a sincere heart and he's striving to love God obediently and to help guide people to God - it's just unfortunate that the Christian church sometimes develops traditions and cultures and ways of doing things that don't really help people to remember Jesus

In the Bible reading, which is an extract from an ancient letter written by Paul to the church in the city of Corinth, it's also clear that the Christian church there was also developing a tradition of practicing the Lord's Supper that wasn’t helping the people to remember Jesus

Look at verse 20

When you meet together you're not really interested in the Lord's Supper

Well tonight we're here to remember Jesus

To remember the words he said

To think about what the Lord's supper means

To remember what Jesus has done and is doing in our lives - individually and as a community

And to remember what Jesus has promised


(Take the bread)

So on the night that before Jesus was executed he sat having a meal with his close friends and followers

He took some bread

And he broke it into pieces giving it to his friends to eat

His words were simple

(Change slide)

This is my body that is given for you

This bread symbolizes the body of Jesus

And the words that were said, were said to his followers and friends – you – today that's everyone who looks to Jesus as the person who rules their life


Jesus had actually spoken about bread before this as well

John 6, which we looked at a couple of months ago, records these words from Jesus

I am the bread of life

If you come to me, you'll never go hungry

Seek the imperishable food that I give you that brings about eternal life

Bread eventually goes stale, but like any sort of food it does sustain life for a time

Jesus said that the food he gives is imperishable and so by taking in imperishable food, life becomes imperishable

And this imperishable food giving imperishable or eternal life is given to you ... to me

This is my body that is given for you


Something else that stands out to me is that just before Jesus said that the bread represented his body, he broke it

Later that night, Jesus was arrested and was whipped and beaten and nailed to a cross

Like the bread was broken and ripped, that night his body was broken and ripped

This body of Jesus that was broken was broken because of you ... because of me

This is my body that is given for you –broken instead of you

In other words, the arrest, the trial and judgement, the torture and then the execution of Jesus - they were actually things that somehow, in some way, were meant to be something for me and you to undergo

Something that we deserved but that Jesus received instead


So Jesus took the bread and broke it and distributed and told his friends to do this to remember him

To remember especially

That he brings people everlasting life that continues after physical death

And that he was punished and broken instead of and in place of his friends and followers

If I could have a couple of people to help pass the bread around the church

I like to invite anyone who considers themself to be a follower of Jesus to take a piece of bread when it is passed around

(Wait for some helpers)

Spend a few minutes remembering and reflecting on what it means for Jesus to be bread that was broken and we’ll all eat together in a minute

(Wait for bread to be handed out)

Remember – this bread represents Jesus who gives nourishment that brings eternal life to you – for this, be thankful – say thank you to God

Remember – this bread represents Jesus who has been broken because of you and in place of you – for this, apologize, say sorry to God but be glad to know that he loves you so much that Jesus died for you

(Allow time for prayer)

I invite you now to eat the bread - a symbol of the eternal life that Jesus has bought for you at a great cost...


On the night before his execution, after eating the bread, Jesus took a cup of wine and gave his friends some to drink

Again his words were simple

This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood.

This cup represents the new covenant

That opens up at least 3 questions to me

Firstly, what's a covenant?

Secondly, if there's a new one, then what was the old one?

Thirdly, what's the new one then?


Well covenant isn't a word that you hear much - it's not really in common use in English at the moment

But it's not a complicated word – it simply means a treaty or an agreement which is usually a two-way promise

A 100% serious agreement

The most obvious covenant that I can think is the covenant that two people make when they get married

I promised to love and honour Nicole as my wife - as my only wife - until one of us died - I promised that I would not let anything break that promise

In the same way, Nicole promised to love and honour me until one of us died - and to not let anything break that promise 

So that's a covenant - a serious agreement that should never be broken

· The idea of a covenant between God and his people was something that was very familiar to the Jewish people 2,000 years ago because that very agreement had been recorded over a 1,000 years before in the Old Testament

If you have a Bible, turn to the Book of Exodus, the second book in the Bible

And take a look at Exodus chapter 6, verse 7

(Wait for people to find passage)

Exodus 6:7

I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.

That's the crucial underlying principle behind the Old Covenant

God's promise in the covenant is to be present among the people as their God

And by being present among them, the God of love is saying, I will care for you, protect you, provide for you


Now go forward few pages to Exodus chapter 24, verse 7

(Wait for people to find passage)

Then Moses took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, "We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey."

The people's promise in the covenant was to make God their God - the one who ruled them - and they promised to follow him and obey him

This promise came directly after the people had been given the 10 Commandments

So they had clear laws from God about how to live and their part of the covenant was to obey those laws - in particular, to obey the first commandment, which is by the most important one because it holds everything else together

The first commandment? Can anyone remind us what it was?

(Wait for response)

I am the Lord your God - you must have no other gods...


So the old covenant, simple as it was, was a really good agreement

God would care for his people

And they would follow him, and him alone


The problem was though, it failed

Not because of God

But because of the people

Time and time again, the people had broken their promise - their part to play in the covenant – and they had turned their back on God and worshipped other gods

In the Last Supper, when Jesus said, “This is the cup of the New Covenant” he knew all about the Old Covenant and how the people had continually had broken it

And he knew that he had he had to bring about a New Covenant between God and his people, one that would not fail


When you think about it, everyone today is in a very similar situation

Before a person comes to knows Jesus as Lord, he’s living in broken covenant with God because he doesn’t recognize God as our creator and sustainer

We all need to be part of this new covenant which doesn’t fail

The reason this covenant doesn’t fail is because it doesn’t rely on our own strength and ability to perfectly keep the commandments – rather it relies on God’s forgiveness of our failings through the death of Jesus

What a relief!

Because if it relied on me being perfectly obedient to the commandments it would have failed a long time ago

What a comfort – what a reason to be joyful!


There’s something else special and exciting about this New Covenant

Even though the covenant isn’t reliant on our perfect obedience, it doesn’t mean we stay as we are, floundering in our weakness trying to live like God’s people

Because God himself, the Holy Spirit, now lives near us and in us even

Jeremiah, a man of God in the Old Testament, talked about the New Covenant in this way – Jeremiah 31 says

“The day is coming,” says the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel... I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Ezekiel, another man of God in the Old Testament, also talked about the New Covenant like this – in Ezekiel 36 God says

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean... I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

The mark of this New Covenant is that God lives within the hearts and minds of those who are part of it, making us new people – but that’s a whole other sermon

Tonight let’s simply remember that Jesus has overcome our old lives where we rejected the God

Jesus has overcome that old life and has offered a new covenant – a new start, a new life for each of us, as a new person who lives with God

And he confirmed this covenant by spilling his blood in our place on the Cross


So Jesus took the cup and distributed the wine and told his friends to drink it to remember him

To remember especially

That our old way of life has been overcome

And that we belong to God, he won’t let go of us and we will see him clearly one day – because if you read a little further, in verse 26 we’re reminded that Jesus will return

If I could have a couple of people to help pass around the grape-juice

I’d like to invite anyone who considers themself to be a follower of Jesus to take a cup and drink

(Wait for some helpers)

Spend a few minutes remembering and reflecting on what it means that our old lives are gone and that we are, together with Christians all over the world, in a new relationship with God – one that will not fail

(Allow time for prayer)

I invite you now to drink – a symbol of the new life with God that Jesus has bought for you at a great cost...


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