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Got Eucharist?

Got Eucharist?

Words of Faith 7-10-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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1 Corinthians 11

   [27] Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. [28] A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. [29] For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. [30] That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. [31] But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. [32] When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.

   [33] So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. [34] If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

   And when I come I will give further directions.

 

         To put it most simply, many in Corinth had been "missing the point" of the Lord's Supper. The house gatherings had become toxic social events focused on status and wealth. What had started out as an agape meal with the Lord's Supper had become just another society-page banquet with people getting drunk and others being left out entirely.

       Paul was disgusted with the whole scene. "Don't you have homes 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 praise you for this? Certainly not!" (11:22)

       Paul wanted desperately to clear up this mess. The Lord's Supper was a visible sermon that proclaimed "the message of the Cross", that is, the reality of the Lord's death, and also the certainty of His return.

       The Corinthians' despicable behavior at the communal meal was not without consequence. There was a judgment for those who callously or casually come to the Lord's Table without recognizing the Body of the Lord. The result could be weakness, sickness or even death. For this reason, Paul cautioned that a believer ought to examine himself before partaking of the bread and cup. "If we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment."

         Paul's advice may sound strange but it reflected Jewish teaching that it was better to be judged in this world than in eternity. "When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world".

       Jewish teachers stressed that in this world God punished the righteous for their few sins, but in the world to come he would punish the wicked for their many sins. Jewish teachers also believed that suffering could free one from later punishment. Paul agreed at least that suffering can be the Lord's discipline and that those who do not embrace other members of the church no longer receive healing through the church.

         But what was the error that needed correction? Certainly, it was the callous treatment of the Lord's Supper, not recognizing the significance of the body and blood of Jesus. But Paul suggested that this extended to the way we treat one another in the Body of Christ.

     "You despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing" (11:22). This could not go on. "So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment".

       Paul was greatly concern about those guilty of sinning against the Body and blood of the Lord by despising poorer members and showing utter disregard for their need. People were coming to the remembrance of Christ's work of unity and reconciliation with a trail of deeds that had produced disunity and alienation!

       The point of self-examination was not to prove oneself "worthy of the table." No one is ever "worthy" of the Lord's Supper. That is the point of the table. But the table of the Lord is also the place where Christians reflect on those they have wronged in the Body and seek reconciliation. The table of the Lord is the place where the Body of believers comes together to focus on what is really important.

           Nowadays when this passage is read before participation in the Lord's Supper, it is usually intended to produce soul-searching introspection and silent confession to Christ so that no one will sin against the spiritual presence of the Lord by irreverent observance. Paul's application was probably more concrete.

         Paul saw the Body as the church, which consists of individual believers. His body, the church, is also pictured by the bread of Communion. Thus to sin against another believer by neglecting their need or by causing disunity is to sin against Christ.

         For us, the question might be-- Got Eucharist? While that word has been identified with specific streams of Christian tradition, it really is a great one to describe what Paul was looking for. The word Eucharist comes from the Greek word for thanksgiving and grace. We find it in the familiar word-- "the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks... (eucharisto)" Eucharist is a word that conveys deep gratitude for favor or grace.

         The question for us is whether we come together with Eucharist-- thanksgiving for the Body and blood of Christ? Do we come to the table recognizing His great gift for us? Do we come to the table recognizing that our fellow believers are a part of the Body of Christ for whom we give thanks? Do we come together in grace and gratitude? Have we sought reconciliation and peace in the Body? Have we sought His healing grace among believers?

 

         Father God, give me Eucharist. Give me a spirit of thanksgiving for the Body and blood of Christ given for me. Give me a spirit of gratitude for what You have done and for the Body You have give to me in the church. Show me the people I need to be reconciled to. Show me the ways I have failed to recognize the Body. Help me to see and hear the needs of others and respond in Your love. In Jesus' Name.