Breaking of Bread Sermon Manuscript

NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, please listen to the message on our YouTube channel to hear the whole sermon.

Breaking of Bread

1 Cor. 11:17-34

Acts 2:42 – we’re commanded to meet, the gospel is first, 

-Seesaw 

            -“Healthy tensions”

-2 ordinances given to us from the Lord: baptism and communion 

-Talked about baptism a couple times before – it’s one of the easiest commands given for us to obey

-If you are a believer, if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord and you have not been baptized, what’s stopping you? What’s holding you back?

-Baptism serves as entry point or the beginning. Signifies our new life that is found in Christ, so just as he was laid down in the grave and then came out alive, so we are laid down into the water, and then coming up clean and new, washing away our old sinful selves and putting on our new perfected selves (early church literally gave new clothes to those baptized)

-As baptism serves as beginning, communion serves as the regular reminder. So we are baptized once, we celebrate communion regularly for the rest of our lives.

EFCA SOF Article 7 on The Church

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-Before we walk through this text, we need to have some historical background understanding of what led to communion.

-Anyone have any family traditions that take place regularly? We’re coming up to the 4th of July, some families make that a really big deal. Maybe it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday, graduation

-Our culture doesn’t always do celebrations/remembrances well. Other cultures have different rhythms/patterns that help denote significant milestones in people’s lives. Quinceañera, bar mitzvah (bat mitzvah)

-Regular habits, routines, practices that help shape/form the culture.

-All of us have these habits, some of the habits are better than others! One of the habits/routines we have is the 5 day, 40 hour work week. Then you end up with songs like “Working for the weekend,” or people anxiously awaiting Friday to finally come and dreading Monday. Some routines are even built into the creation order – in 6 days God created the world, and on the 7th He rested – serving as a template for us to follow.

-The Jewish people are MASTERS of these rhythms/routines. (so is God)

-Shabbat – sabbath rest weekly

-Rosh Hashanah – Jewish new year

-Yom Kippur – Jewish day of atonement

-Sukkot – fall harvest, celebrating time in the wilderness

-Shemini Atzeret – end of Sukkot prayer for rain

-Hanukkah – festival celebrating freedom from oppression, freedom of worship, finding light in the darkest times

-Purim – celebrating saving of the Jews from Haman

-Shavuot – AKA “Festival of First Fruits” 

-Passover – freedom from Egyptian slavery

-Passover is the Jewish celebration that Jesus uses to point to the reality of that first Passover only being the shadow, but himself being the substance.

-Shadow vs. substance. Moses, David, Melchizedek, tabernacle, sacrificial system 

-Living on this side of the cross means that we now celebrate the substance of Jesus Christ instead of living in the shadows that pointed to the coming of the Messiah. So everything we do has to be viewed from the Christo-centric lens – including and especially communion, as you’ll see by the end of our time together!

-If you don’t know the history of Passover – nation of Israel spent 430 years enslaved in Egypt. Genesisfocuses on the beginning in the first 11 chapters, then in 12 shifts to 1 person and his family: Abraham, who fathers Isaac, who fathers Jacob, who has 12 sons that set the stage for the 12 tribes of Israel. Jacob’s 12 sons weren’t BFFs, sold Joseph (father’s favorite) to slavery, through his slavery and imprisonment eventually ends up as 2nd in command of Egypt, spares the nation (and surrounding nations) from famine, whole family moves down to Egypt and is given land to settle in (not the Promised Land). Exodus begins by saying a new king came into power in Egypt who did not know/remember Joseph, and viewed the Israelites as a threat to his rule so he enslaved them. Eventually, God raises up Moses to serve as His mouthpiece to His people and lead them out of their slavery and into the Promised Land. Moses goes to Pharoah and demands He let God’s people go, Pharoah refuses culminating in a great showdown between the gods of Egypt and the one true God: spoiler alert, God wins. But the culmination of this showdown is a 10th and final plague where the firstborn is killed, except for those who put blood on the doorframe of their houses, where the angel of death will “pass over” those homes (where the name Passover comes from). 

-God commanded his people to commemorate and celebrate Passover every year as a reminder of how God rescued and redeemed his people, first from certain death and then from slavery.

-When Jesus came he also celebrated communion, but 1 communion in particular he changed the focus and the meaning of.

Matt. 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-20

-While John doesn’t have the introduction of the elements, it contains a much fuller explanation of what Jesus did and said during this last supper in John 13-17.

-All the Gospel accounts record that the events of the Last Supper took place in the midst of the Passover meal

-Jesus took the shadow, shared how it pointed to the substance (Himself) and then gave it a new meaning for his disciples.

  1. Horizontal Communion (17-22)

-Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, full of issues! 

-But even this church has practices that are commendable! Unfortunately, their practice of communion was NOT done correctly.

-So what am I talking about when I talk about horizontal communion?

-Look how many times Paul uses the phrase “When you come together.”

-There are all sorts of debates throughout church history about the size of the “together” here. Paul seems to be talking about the church gathered in this section, so that’s what I go with.

-The best description I’ve ever heard of communion is a family meal. It’s a time for us as a family to connect, engage, remind ourselves what we’re about, catch up, breathe!

-Unfortunately for Corinth, something is off with the way they’re celebrating the Lord’s Supper.

  1. Divisions (17-19)

-The church is dividing among themselves. Early church often faced dividing issues – slave vs free, men vs women, knowledge vs lack of knowledge, Jews vs Greeks. What was amazing about the church was that they all came together!

-When the church gathers there are not supposed to be any divisions. No matter the size of our bank account, the car we drive, the color of our skin, our gender, our genealogy, we are commanded to be one in Christ

-But there’s a sanctifying component to divisions, according to vs. 19.

-Divisions lead to that recognition of that which is true. If/when there is conflict among people, it should lead to the truth coming out.

-So what is it that’s leading to these division?

  • The Haves and the Have-Nots (20-22)

-Where the church is meant to break down any divides that the world tries to force on us, the church at Corinth was carrying the worldly traditions into their worship.

-Since they were continuing their worldly influenced traditions, Paul says it’s not the Lord’s Supper that they’re celebrating. Meaning the first thing to remember about communion is it’s meant to be a unifying thing. 

-In John’s account, Jesus even prays specifically for us as his future followers, that we would be 1 – perfectly unified together. That’s where the description of the church being a body is so helpful.

-Social standing mattered a great deal in the 1st Century. Every century, if you think about it. That’s where the church is such a counter-cultural idea! The church is the place where natural enemies become family.

-Craig Blomberg “The minority of well-to-do believers (1:26), including the major financial supporters and owners of the homes in which the believers met, would have had the leisure-time and resources to arrive earlier and bring larger quantities and finer food than the rest of the congregation. Following the practice of hosting festive gatherings in ancient Corinth, they would have quickly filled the small private dining room. Latecomers (the majority, who probably had to finish work before coming on Saturday or Sunday evening—there was as of yet no legalized day off in the Roman empire) would be seated separately in the adjacent atrium or courtyard. Those that could not afford to bring a full meal, or a very good one, did not have the opportunity to share with the rest in the way that Christian unity demanded. (NIVAC, 196)

-One goes hungry, another goes drunk. This is pointing to the whole meal (food & drink)

-Say it again – the primary point of this section is communion is meant to be unifying, a place where we all demonstrate our family meal, our unity in Christ

-A couple things to notice – Paul doesn’t say eating this food is wrong (socialism), Paul is saying the Lord’s Supper, the focal point of the gathering of God’s people, is meant to level the playing field so we all participate in the same things. Acts 2:44 “All who believed were together and had all things in common.”

-But that’s not the only component to communion, as we see in this next section. Remember the see saw?

  • Vertical Communion (23-26)

-Just as Paul emphasized the need for unity between each other in communion, now he’s going to demonstrate the need for us to be unified to God in communion.

-2 components that Paul mentions: looking back, and looking forward.

  1. Looking Back (23-25)

-Received and delivered: “The verbs “received” and “passed on,” which occur again in combination later in the letter (15:3), are technical terms from Paul’s Jewish heritage for the transmission of religious instruction.” (Fee, NICNT, 607)

-Sounds very similar to what we have in the Gospel accounts – Jesus in the midst of the Passover celebration reinterpreted elements of the Passover (shadow) to point to the reality (substance) of himself

“On the night when he was betrayed”

-This is the darkest night that has ever happened. The one perfect person to ever exist, God incarnate, was betrayed by 1 of the 12 disciples that he poured his life into for his entire earthly ministry 
-And Jesus calls for unity even with the one who betrayed Him, that means that we as God’s people today, can also be united even when someone betrays us

-Also points us back to a specific time and a specific place. Jesus – God became man, was a real person who lived in a real place, had skin and bones (just like us) but unlike us, He didn’t sin.

-This points us to the need for us to remember back to the reality that Jesus Himself was betrayed and bore the penalty for our sins when He willingly went to the cross.

-Somber reflection

-inaugurating a new covenant

-Done “in remembrance of”

-Just as His body was broken the bread is broken, just as his blood was shed so we see the symbol of His blood in our hands

-But it’s not ONLY somber, remember that seesaw, and look at vs. 26

  • Looking Forward (26)

-The 2 elements serve to remind us of the gospel that saves us, but the gospel that saves us isn’t restricted to the here and now – it urges us to long for the coming day when Jesus will return and right every wrong.

“as often”

-Meant to be done with regularity and repeatedly. We can have fun discussions/debates about how often we should celebrate communion (full disclosure I would prefer to celebrate communion as the culmination of every weekly service, but that’s a 3rd order issue)

-Whatever the frequency, every time we participate together, it’s mean to:

“proclaim the Lord’s death”

-We are and always will be gospel people. One of my favorite descriptions of a worship service is very simple: “read the Word, preach the Word, pray the Word, sing the Word, see the Word (in the ordinances).”

-Reminder of the cross centered nature of our faith (first the call to come and die, second the implication that both our faith compels us to both vertical and horizontal relationships)

“until he comes”

-communion is only celebrated in the in between time – between Christ’s 2 comings

-Each time we celebrate communion, it’s a reminder that this world is not our home, we’re foreigners here who are awaiting our King to return 

-Also reminds us (as Jesus says in the Gospels Matt. 26:29 “I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”) that only sinners are welcomed to the table, perfect people need not participate! When Jesus returns, we will sit down to the final communion – the wedding supper with the Lamb!

-This demonstrates that this should be a joyous celebration! Our sin is paid for, the tomb is empty, we will never die! 

-Communion is meant to be BOTH somber realization that we are sinners, AND a joyous celebration because we a no longer slaves to sin. What does that look like?

  • Horizontal and Vertical Judgment (27-34)

“an unworthy manner”

-people have taken this text and made it hyper individualistic to the point where we just need my “me time” each time we celebrate communion to ensure everything is right between me and God. But what is the focus in this whole section? Communal, we, us, our.

“Let a person examine himself then”

-How are you treating the body? Are you caring for others more than yourself? Are you actively pursuing unity and fighting against discord/division? Are you using your gifts to serve the greater body? 1 Cor. 12-14 go on to talk about the necessity of all of us using our gifts for the good of the whole church.

“without discerning the body”

-Take this “body” to refer to 2 things

-first the body of Jesus. Then Jesus’ earthly body which is? The church, the community, us gathering together. 

-then the body of the church

“judged ourselves truly”

-stop using the world’s standards! We judge ourselves according to God’s standards. We all messed up, we all sinned, we all need grace, that’s why we need to be serious about killing our own indwelling sin, and do our best to love and honor each other over ourselves. 

“we are disciplined”

-God judges everyone, either toward eternal condemnation or toward disciple/correction

“wait for one another”

-one last communal reminder. We’re supposed to do this TOGETHER. Be serious about dealing with your own sin, so that when we gather as the church we can be serious about loving each other, caring for each other, honoring each other better than we honor ourselves, and demonstrating that “each other-ness” by celebrating communion with EACH OTHER.

-If you have unresolved sin, you are welcome here, in fact it’s ONLY people who have unresolved sin that are welcome here, perfect people don’t need the church or communion! 

So what?

-We are table people – both THE table and OUR tables, be hospitable (this ties into fellowship)

-We saw this in Heb. 13:1-2 “let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers.” The Gospel Comes with a House Key

-It’s nearly impossible to remain angry at someone when you’re breaking bread with them. 

-Communion is meant to serve as a visible reminder of: 

-the gospel (vertical)

-our unity in and through the gospel (horizontal)

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