By Sam Greer Senior Pastor
Red Bank Baptist Church, Chattanooga
Focal Passage: I Corinthians 11:17-29
Anytime death invades our lives we respond in different ways. When a loved one dies some lash out in anger, or fall into depression, or retreat into isolation, while others grieve in a host of other ways.
When 17 students die senselessly in a school shooting some honor them by having 17 minutes of silence, while others walkout for 17 minutes of protest. When death interrupts life there are many responses, but one rare response is to celebrate death. Sure, funeral homes offer celebration of life services for the deceased, but not celebration of death services. Why, then, do we celebrate Jesus’ death as we partake of the Lord’s Supper?
Make no mistake about it, when we pull up a chair to the Lord’s Table, we unapologetically are celebrating our Lord’s death, not His birth, not His life, not His miracles, not His resurrection, not His ascension, not His soon coming, but His death. In 1 Corinthians 11:17-29, Paul reminds us of why we celebrate Jesus’ death.
We worship together because the Lord is worthy. In verses 17-22, Paul was addressing an issue in the church at Corinth surrounding the observance of the Lord’s Supper. The Corinthian believers approached this memorable time of worship un-unified and irreverently. Yes, they were gathered, but not together. Some in the church had plenty to eat and drink while others had little if anything to eat or drink. The attitude in this church was not a “we church” but a “me church” attitude. God is worthy of every person’s worship, including His church. We worship better together!
We eat the bread because we will never die. Paul reminded the church that Jesus instructed His followers to eat the bread in remembrance of Him (vv. 23-24). Jesus died in place of and for His church. We eat the bread to remember that because Jesus died our death we will never die.
Food ads have taken over the airwaves and the social media landscape. Nearly half of commercials during the Super Bowl and Olympics were about food. We are exposed to food ads, food reality shows and food channels. Our nation lives to eat, but we eat the bread because we will never die. Jesus said that all who believe in Him shall never die (John 11:26).
We drink to remember our sins are forgiven. Jesus also instructed His followers to drink the cup in remembrance of Him (v. 25). The wine in the cup represented Jesus’ blood that He poured out for the forgiveness of sins. Each time we drink the cup we remember that our sins are forgiven.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one-third of all fatal car crashes, one-half of all homicides, one-third of all suicides and one-third of all hospital admissions are due to alcohol abuse. Our world drinks to forget their sins, to drown them out, but followers of Jesus drink the cup to remember our sins are forgiven.
We look forward to life after death. Paul stated that each time any of Jesus’ churches observe the Lord’s Supper, the Lord’s death is being proclaimed until He comes again (v. 26). If He died, how is the Lord going to come again? Jesus was raised from the dead and He is coming again! Whenever we partake of our last Lord’s Supper on earth, it will not be our last supper with the Lord. Our world looks fearfully at death after life, but we look forward to life after death.