Sermon #79†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† † Series: Matthew
††††††††††† Title:††††††††††††††† THE FIRST COMMUNION SERVICE
††††††††††† Text:††††††††††††††† Matthew 26:26-35
††††††††††† Reading:††††††† Office: Bob Poncer † †Aud: Buddy Daugherty
††††††††††† Subject:††††††††† The Ordinance of the Lordís Supper
††††††††††† Date:†††††††††††††† Tuesday Evening - April 9, 1996
††††††††††† Tape #††††††††††† S-42
††††††††††† The title of my message tonight is The First Communion Service. You will find my text in Matthew 26:26-35. Read it with me.
††††††††††† Matthew 26:26-35† "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. (27) And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; (28) For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (29) But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom. (30) And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. (31) Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. (32) But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. (33) Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. (34) Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. (35) Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples."
††††††††††† By Godís purpose and by his providence, the Jewish passover of the Old Testament melted into the Lordís Supper as the stars of the night dissolve into the light of the rising morning sun. The ordinance could not have been established with greater simplicity. There was absolutely nothing of ceremonial pageantry about it. Look at the words of verse twenty-six again. "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.Ē
††††††††††† With those simple, unpretentious words, our Master established the blessed ordinance of the Lordís Supper. He knew all that was before him. He knew what he must suffer. He knew what would happen with his disciples. He knew the turmoil that was coming. Wisely and graciously, he chose this last quiet evening before his crucifixion to bestow this parting gift to his church. I cannot imagine how precious the memory of this night must have been to those disciples, every time they met around the table afterward. Yet, the misunderstanding and abuse of this blessed ordinance has been the cause of strife, controversy, and division, and of much heresy. If there has ever been anything that ought to unite all who profess faith in Christ, the Lordís Supper ought to do it; but sinful men have so perverted the teachings of Christ regarding this ordinance that it has become a opportunity for controversy to many rather than an ordinance of communion. Tonight, I want us to consider this blessed ordinance as it was originally established.
If we would worship God in the observance of this ordinance, or in the observance of any other, it must be observed as it was established by our Lord.
I want to show you three things in these verses that will help you to understand the meaning of the Lordís Supper, how it is to be observed, and why we are commanded to observe it.
1. The Meaning of the Elements
2. The Purpose of the Ordinance
3. The Character of the Communicants
I. First, it is absolutely essential that we understand THE MEANING OF THE ELEMENTS our Lord used to give us the ordinance of the Lordís Supper.
††††††††††† Our Savior simply took the unleavened bread and wine of the passover supper and incorporated the into the elements to be used in the Lordís Supper. He said, concerning the bread, ďthis is my body,Ē and concerning the wine, ďthis is my blood.Ē We need to understand the meaning of those words.
††††††††††† The papists say that the bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Christ. In the mass, the priest pronounces his mumbo-jumbo, waves his hands, and magically transforms the bread and wine into Christís body and blood. Thus, the mass becomes, in the idolatersí minds, a sacrifice, a recrucifixion of Christ to make atonement for sin!
††††††††††† Luther taught that the bread and wine were mystically and spiritually transformed into the body and blood of Christ, so that the elements themselves became holy and conveyed grace to the communicants. Many today have a view similar to Lutherís. They attach a pagan, idolatrous meaning to the bread and wine of the Lordís Table. I have friends who used to bury any bread and wine that was left over after communion. They had been taught that once it was consecrated, it could never be used again. So, you see, error concerning the meaning of our Lordís words can lead and has lead men to serious, deplorable idolatry and superstition.
††††††††††† Without question, the meaning of our Lordís words is this: ďThis bread represents my body. This wine represents my blood.Ē There is absolutely no indication that he meant any more than that.
A. Frequently, in the Scriptures, something is said to be what it merely represents simply because there was no term in the Hebrew language to express signify, denote, or represent.
††††††††††† You cannot find those words in the Old Testament. And, though the New Testament was written in Greek, it retains the idiom of the Hebrew. Let me illustrate what I mean.
∑ Genesis 40:12 - The three branches are (represent) three days.Ē
∑ Genesis 41:26 - ďThe seven kine are (represent) seven years.Ē
∑ Daniel 7:24 - ďThe ten horns are (represent) ten kings.Ē
∑ Matthew 13:18 - ďThe field is (represents) the world.Ē
∑ Revelation 1:20 - ďThe seven stars are (represent) the angels of the seven churches, and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are (represent) the seven churches.Ē
††††††††††† The Bible is full of expressions similar to these, which we would never think of taking in a literal sense. Good sense demands that they be interpreted allegorically. Our Savior is called the Lamb of God, the Door of the sheep, the Lion of Judah, and the Vine. No one would ever think of saying that he is literally those things! And no one, whose mind has not been perverted by religious nonsense would ever imagine that the bread and wine of the Lordís Supper are anything but representatives of the Lordís body and his blood. All you have to do is taste the bread to know that it is bread, not flesh! All you have to do is drink the wine to know that it is wine, not blood!
A. The unleavened bread represents the holy human body of our Savior.
††††††††††† We dare not use soda crackers or light bread. Our Lord used unleavened bread for a reason. Leaven represents sin. He had no sin!
B. The wine represents his precious, sin-atoning blood.
††††††††††† Many today have found excuses for using grape juice, kool-aid, and other things in the celebration of the Lordís Supper. But no excuse will justify such perverse behavior in the house of God. Wine is used because, like the unleavened bread, it is free of corruption, and thus a proper representation of our Saviorís blood. Look at verse 28. Our Lord says four things here about his blood.
1. He says it is ďMy bloodĒ (Acts 20:8) - Human Blood - Infinitely Meritorious Blood - Pure Blood - Precious Blood.
2. This is ďthe blood of the New TestamentĒ - The New Covenant (Heb. 13:20).
3. His blood was ďshed for many.Ē It was not shed for all but for many, the many who are the objects of his mercy, love, and grace - The many who are redeemed and saved by it!
4. His blood was shed ďfor the remission of sins.Ē - There was no other way by which God could, in his holiness, justice, and truth forgive the sins of his people (Heb. 11:6).
††††††††††† Every Sunday evening, when we come together around the Lordís Table, take great care to focus your attention on the incarnation, life, and death of Christ as our Substitute. That is what is represented to us by the unleavened bread and wine.
II. Second, when he established the Lordís Supper as a standing ordinance of divine worship, our Savior plainly stated THE PURPOSE OF THE ORDINANCE.
††††††††††† The Holy Spirit tells us, in I Corinthians 11:24, that he said, ďThis do in remembrance of me.Ē The Lordís Supper was established by Christ to be a memorial of him and his great sacrifice of love for us, no more and no less.
††††††††††† Immense harm has been done by those who have taught Godís people that this is a mysterious, complex thing. The fact is, as I have already shown you, it could not have been established with greater simplicity.
A. The Lordís Supper is not a sacrifice.
††††††††††† Not a word is mentioned anywhere in connection with the establishment or the observance of this ordinance about a sacrifice. No mention is made of priests or altars. The fact is, once Christ was offered as a sacrifice for our sins, all sacrifices, all altars, and all priests ceased to be.
∑ Hebrews 10:14
††††††††††† We have no sacrifice but Christ. We have no altar but Christ. We have no priest but Christ. If you have any other altar, priest, or sacrifice, you do not have and cannot partake of Christ.
∑ Hebrews 13:10
B. The Lordís Supper is not a sacrament.
††††††††††† Those who speak of the ordinances of Christ as sacraments are in error. The bread and wine are not sacred. The table is not sacred. And the act of eating and drinking the bread and wine is not sacred. I mean by that that grace is not conferred upon us by our observance of the Lordís Supper. It is not a means by which God conveys his grace to sinners. Godís grace is conveyed to us through Christ alone and by faith alone. The word sacrament implies a means of grace. By definition, a sacrament is ďa solemn religious ceremony enjoined by Christ, to be observed by his followers, by which their special relation to him is created, or their obligations to him are renewed and ratified.Ē A sacrament is a piece of Roman Catholic idolatry retained by Protestant churches who yet imagine that the grace of God can be obtained by ceremonies, rituals, and works.
C. The Lordís Supper is a symbolic memorial ordinance of public worship.
††††††††††† It is not an ordinance to be observed privately, but publicly. It is an ordinance for redeemed sinners, for believers, for men and women who are born again by the power and grace of God the Holy Spirit. By our public observance of this ordinance we declare to all...
1. Our Sinfulness and Need of A Savior.
2. Christís Substitutionary Sacrifice for Sin.
3. Our Faith in and Allegiance to Christ.
4. Our Hope of Glory.
III. Third, in this passage we are clearly shown THE CHARACTER OF THE FIRST COMMUNICANTS.
††††††††††† Let me state emphatically that we do not and must not make the celebration of the Lordís Supper a community or family service. It is not, never has been, and must never be something to which unbelievers are invited, or something they are encouraged to participate in. Anyone who does not trust the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, as his justice satisfying Substitute before God, is disqualified from both baptism (Acts 8:36-37) and the Lordís Supper (I Cor. 11:27-29). Unbelievers are unworthy of the Lordís ordinances, because they do not discern (or understand the necessity of) the Lordís body. However, it is not up to the pastor, the elders, the deacons, or the church to decide who shall and who shall not partake of the Lordís Supper. The burden of examination and responsibility is upon the individual. Each one must examine himself (I Cor. 11:28). This becomes obvious when you understand who the first communicants were.
A. They all professed to be believers and followers of Christ.
††††††††††† While the Scriptures do not allow for closed communion, or even restricted communion, that is to say, the Word of God does not allow anyone to forbid communion to those who profess faith in Christ, it is restricted to those who profess to be the disciples of our Lord.
B. Though all professed to be believers, one of them was a devil; and the Lord knew it (vv. 21-23).
††††††††††† The Lord Jesus knew what Judas had done. Yet, he did not refuse him a place at the table. The reason appears obvious to me. He would give no precedent for the practice of fencing the table, which gained prominence by the legality of puritan theology.
C. One of the disciples would, in a matter of hours, curse and deny the Master.
††††††††††† Though our Lord knew that soon Peter would experience a terrible fall, yet he spread the bread and wine before him.
D. All the disciples who sat with Christ at this first communion service soon forsook him in weakness, fear, and unbelief.
††††††††††† Not one child of God was for any reason exempted from the Lordís Supper. God never sends his erring children to bed without supper. He evens allows a devil to sit at the table rather than encourage anyone to prevent any of his children from receiving this blessed ordinance.
1. Let no child of God look upon the Lordís Supper as an unnecessary thing.
2. Let no believer imagine that he is unworthy to receive this ordinance.† -Our worthiness is Christ. He who is unfit for the ordinance of Christ is unfit for the company of Christ!
3. Let us never be more strict in the ordinances of Christ than Christ himself.