The Lord's Supper
A daily devotion for October 23rd
Correcting an Abuse of the Lord’s Supper
17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night 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, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
27 So then, 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 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.
33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.
And when I come I will give further directions.
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 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, after supper he took the cup, saying,This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.1 Corinthians 11:23-25
Paul passes on to them and to us our Lord's emphasis upon two remarkable symbols, the bread and the cup. Deliberately, after the Passover feast, Jesus took the bread, and when he had broken it, to make it available to all the disciples, he said to them,
This is my body. Unfortunately some have taken that to mean that he was teaching that the bread becomes his body, but as you look at the story of the Upper Room, it is clear that he meant it in a symbolic sense. If it was literal, then there were two bodies of Christ present in the Upper Room, one in which he lived and by which he held the bread, and the bread itself. But clearly our Lord means this as a symbol.
This represents my body which is for you.
broken for you, as some versions have it. That is not a very accurate rendering. It is not broken for us. The Scriptures tell us that not a bone of his body would be broken. Rather it is intended for us to live on; that is the symbolism. Thus when we gather and take the bread of the Lord's Table, break it and pass it among ourselves, we are reminding ourselves that Jesus is our life: He is the One by whom we live. As Paul says,
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me, (Galatians 2:20 KJV).
This is what the bread symbolizes — that he is to be our power by which we obey the demands of God, the Word of God, to love one another, to forgive one another, to be tender and merciful, kind and courteous to one another, to not return evil for evil but to pray for those who persecute us and mistrust us and misuse us. His life in us enables us to be what God asks us to be. We live by means of Christ.
Following that, our Lord took the cup. The wine of the cup symbolizes his blood which he said is the blood of the New Covenant, the new arrangement for living that God has made, by which the old life is ended. That is what blood always means: Blood is the end of a life, and the old life in which we were dependent upon ourselves, and lived for ourselves, and wanted only to be the center of attention is over. That is what the cup means. We agree to that; we are no longer to live for ourselves. You do not have final rights to your life, and the price is the blood of Jesus. Therefore, when we take that cup and drink it, we are publicly proclaiming that we agree with that sentence of death upon our old life, and believe that the Christian life is a continual experience of life coming out of death.
Power with God only comes when we die to the wisdom and the power of man. We give up one so that the other may be manifest within us. That is what the cup means. It is a beautiful picture of what Jesus said of himself,
Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone, (John 12:24 KJV). Nothing is more descriptive of the emptiness of life than that phrase
abides alone — lonely, restless, bored, miserable, unhappy. That is the life that tries to live for itself and its own needs and its own rights, but the Christian life is one in which that is freely and voluntarily surrendered. If the corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it will bring forth much fruit, and by the participation in the cup this is what we are declaring.
Lord Jesus, thank you for giving your life up that I might have new life in you.
Life Application: When we partake of the symbols of bread and wine, do we honor the richly profound reality they represent? Does our gratitude for His indwelling Life find expression in sacrificial love, no longer living for self interest but for Him who gave Himself for us?
From your friends at www.RayStedman.org
Daily Devotion © 2014 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.