1 CORINTHIANS 11
1 Corinthians 11:23-32
We are celebrating the Lord’s Table. There is a certain way we should approach the Lord’s Table. When we come to the Lord’s Table, we are to look!
LOOK BACKWARD – Vss. 23-25
There were some irregularities in the way the Corinthians were celebrating the Lord’s Table. The behavior of at least some was taking away from the spiritual importance of the Lord’s Table. So, Paul finds it necessary to review his teaching in this area.
The first thing that we are to do is to look backward to what Christ has done for us.
Vs. 23 – Paul had received his instruction from the Lord.
Paul takes us back to the same night that Jesus was betrayed.
The most tragic betrayal in all history, the Son of God betrayed by a disciple, took place that night. And yet Jesus looked beyond this terrible event and instituted the memorial we call “The Lord’s Table”, or “The Lord’s Supper”, or Communion.
The Lord Jesus took bread. It would have been unleavened bread, because it was the Passover.
Vs. 24 – Jesus was talking symbolically when he lifted up the bread and said “This is my body.” The bread should prompt us to remember that Jesus’ body was broken that we might have forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Isaiah 52:14, Isaiah 53:3-6
We look backward and remember the body that was broken for us and:
We remember the beatings to the face and whipping of the back.
We remember the crown of thorns on the head, the nails in the hands and feet, and the spear in the side.
We remember the insults hurled at him while He hung on the cross.
We look backward and remember thankfully all that He suffered for us.
Vs. 25 – Jesus also took the cup in the same manner.
The blood is the new agreement, or covenant, or
testament in His blood.
Blood has always been God’s requirement for a sacrifice for sin. What was new was that this sacrifice paid in full for all sins and there was no more need for anymore blood sacrifices.
1 Peter 1:18-19
Again this partaking of the cup was to be “in remembrance” of Him.
The price is paid for our sin. Remembering in detail helps us look backward and to be thankful for what God through His Son has done for us.
LOOK BACKWARD – Vss. 23-26
LOOK FORWARD – Vs. 26
Vs. 26 – Please note the word “shew” means to proclaim or preach.
When you take of the bread and the cup you are preaching!
You are preaching your own faith in the sufficiency of the broken body of Christ and the shed blood of Christ to pay for you sins. You are making a statement of faith!
That’s why we say that if you are not sure that you have forgiveness of sins and eternal life based on faith in Christ alone, do not take of the Lord’s Table. Let the bread and the cup pass by. Ephesians 2:8-9
Every time you take of the bread and of the cup you are preaching his death.
How long are we to do this preaching?
We are to do it until He comes!
In fact Jesus made an interesting statement in Matthew 26:29 - 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.
Here is the forward look! As we take of the bread and the cup now, we look forward to partaking of the bread and the cup in the future when Jesus comes and establishes His Kingdom. That is a wonderful thing to look forward to.
In fact we are to eagerly look forward to his return for us as the church Titus 2:13
So we don’t only look backward to the cross when we partake in the Lord’s Table, but we look forward to Jesus coming again.
LOOK INWARD – Vss. 27-32
Vs. 27 – We are confronted with an extremely important challenge in these verses. It is possible to eat and drink unworthily. Now first of all, we are all unworthy. Not one of us deserves God’s grace or deserves that Jesus should die for them!
What is meant here is that we should not eat an unworthy manner. Eating in an unworthy manner as a believer would include:
· Not taking the Bread and the Cup seriously.
· Not actively thinking about what we are doing.
· Allowing sin in our lives as the Corinthians did. Some of them were guilty of gluttony and drunkenness. Some Christians come to the table with unforgiving and bitter hearts. Allowing unconfessed sin in the life during communion is an affront to the one who paid for that sin!
How serious is this eating and drinking in an unworthy manner? We become guilty of the body and blood of Christ!
Vs. 29 – When we eat and drink in an unworthy manner we are inviting God to discipline us. The word “damnation” means judgment or chastisement. God judges and disciplines us, so we will not be condemned with those who are not saved. See verse 32.
Vs. 30 – God judges some with weakness and sickness and even many with death. God is not cruel, He is holy and righteous. If we do not do what is holy and righteous at the communion table, he will correct us.
Vs. 31 – The better alternative is for us to judge ourselves when we come to the Lord’s Table. If we take care of business, He doesn’t have to.
Vs. 28 – So we are to examine ourselves when we come to the Lord’s Table. We are to look inward. I suggest that we:
· Examine our MANNERS. Are we thinking about the Lord Jesus and the sacrifice he made, is our mind wandering?
· Examine our MOTIVES. Is our heart pure from all bitterness or any other sinful attitude?
· Examine our METHODS. Is the anything in our behavior that is displeasing to God?
Psalm 32:5 - I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
As we come to the Lord’s Table let us:
THE BACKWARD LOOK
THE FORWARD LOOK
THE INWARD LOOK
1 Corinthians 11:23-32
A COMMUNION MEDITATION
We must be careful that the celebration of Communion, or The Lord's Table does not become a routine addition to our church services without having any impact on those who participate. It is good to remind our flocks of the importance of The Lord's Table.
ELEMENTS AT THE LORD'S TABLE - Vss. 23-25
The bread represents the body of Christ that was broken.
The cup represents the blood of Christ that was shed for our sins.
EXPLANATIONS CONCERNING THE LORD'S TABLE - Vss. 26-27
First, Paul explains that we are showing or preaching or proclaiming the Lord's death till He comes back. Each one of us is preaching our faith in the sacrificial death of Christ for our sins when we take of the bread and the cup. It is the most important message that we will ever preach!
Second, Paul explains that we should not partake of the elements in an unworthy manner.
We are all unworthy because we are sinners.
An unworthy manner is when we partake of the communion without being saved.
An unworthy manner is when we partake of the communion with unconfessed sin in our lives.
An unworthy manner is when we partake of the communion with out paying attention to what we are doing.
An unworthy manner is taking the bread and the cup lightly.
EXAMINATION AT THE LORD'S TABLE - Vss. 28-32
Vs. 28 says that we should examine ourselves before we partake of the Lord's Table. This concept can be summed up with two words.
1. CONFESSION - Vs. 28 - Sin is to be named and confessed to God. Psalm 32:5, 1 John 1:9
2. CHASTENING - Vss. 29-32 - The person who partakes of the Table without confession of sin is inviting the judgment of God (The word damnation in vs. 29 means judgment.). God disciplined many who took of the table in an unworthy way with an early death (sleep). When we judge our own sins through confession, then God does not have to discipline us.
1 Corinthians 11:23-31 etc.
FELLOWSHIP AROUND THE TABLE
There is nothing like friends gathering around the table for food and
We can all remember times of great fellowship gathered around the table.
A number of years ago a tree jumped out into the road and hit me! :-)
This happened a few days before Thanksgiving, and we could not go to our
family, but would have to eat alone.
As it turns out, we did not eat alone. Some of our church friends, Bob and
Ann Smith, was having a house full of company in her small trailer. Ann's
oven was not adequate, so we provided a larger home and the oven for the
turkey. We pooled our resources and had a great meal. We got to meet her
sister and brother in-law and four sons from
eating and fellowshipping with God's people.
Later, when my brother
these same people, Art and Lenore. Besides going to my brother's house, we
also dropped in to see them because they lived not far away. We had a
second good time of food and fellowship.
There was a third time of fellowship with Lenore and her four boys.
Unfortunately, Art was not there. He was tragically killed in an automobile
accident. Art's body was returned "home" to
and I officiated. We ate a funeral dinner together. I was able to minister
to this family more effectively when the need came because we had already
had fellowship around the table. I was now a friend.
Today we are gathered for a more significant time of food and fellowship
than the one I just described. This is what we call "Holy Communion" or "The
As we contemplate the fellowship around the table this morning, we are
attempting to prepare our hearts for participation in this, the Lord's
Table. These remarks are made to stimulate our thinking and sharpen our
awareness of what we are doing. As we prepare for fellowship around the
table, I want us to consider five things:
THE PERFECT HOST - Luke 22:7-13
Whether you go to a person's house there is a host, hostess, or both. These
are the providers of the feast, the ones who foot the bill for the food, and
the ones who prepared the food or made sure it was prepared. They are the
ones in charge.
There is such a thing as the perfect host or hostess. One who does things
just right to make the meal go perfectly.
As we come before the table this morning, I am not the host here. My wife
is not the hostess. The deacons and their wives are not the hosts and
We do have a perfect host. The host is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Read Luke 22:7-13
It was the night before the Jesus' death.
It was the Jewish feast of the Passover.
Our Lord chose the place for the meal, and our Lord's disciples prepared the
Read Luke 22:14-20
Notice that the Lord was in charge of the meal. He was indeed the host.
Also notice that Jesus said to do this in remembrance of him. Thus, the
Lord's table was instituted by Him as a way you and I can have a memorial of
what He has done for us on the cross.
At this table today:
Our Lord is host because He established the feast.
Our Lord is host because He is being remembered.
Our Lord is host because He provides the reason for the bread and the cup -
Our Lord is host because He is right here with us. Matthew 18:20
There should not be frivolity because He is here as Host and observer.
There should not be impure thoughts because He is here and knows our
This should not be taken lightly because the food, the bread and the cup,
are emblems of His body broken for our sins and His blood shed for our sins.
This should not be done with a wandering mind for that would be
disrespectful to our host.
THE PROPER ATTIRE
The Lord's table requires certain clothing. The Lord's table is not for
Just as there is required dress for a formal dinner, and a different type of
dress required at a picnic, there is proper attire to come before the Lord
at His table.
The requirement is that one is attired or dressed in righteousness before
God. You must be declared righteous before God.
This is difficult because of our sin. Romans 3:23, Isaiah 64:6
How can we be clothed in a garment of righteousness? Read and explain, Titus
3:5, Philippians 3:7-9, and Romans 3:21-22.
In Matthew 22 our Lord tells the story of a marriage feast. Many made
excuses for not coming, so the Lord sent his servants out into the highways
and byways and compelled people to come. Evidently the Lord was providing
the proper attire for those who would come in. And yet one man did not put
on a wedding garment. He was sent out to punishment instead of enjoying the
Jesus Christ has provided the wedding garment for us. It is righteousness
based on faith in Him. Put on that garment. Be ready for Heaven and then
come to the Lord's Table. Romans 5:1
THE PRESCRIBED GIFT - 1 Corinthians 11:27-31
Very often when we go to someone's house we bring a gift. It might be candy,
flowers, or a little something for the hostess. Coming to a table where the
Lord Himself has died to declare us righteous, we might hesitate about
bringing a gift. What could we possibly bring to please this host?
1 Corinthians tells us what to bring. We are called upon as
Christians, who have on the proper attire of righteousness to come with
clean hearts. Matthew 5:23-25,
1 Corinthians warns us of eating in an "unworthy manner". Everyone is
unworthy, but to eat and drink in an unworthy manner is to come to the
Lord's Table with unconfessed sin or frivolity.
We must take action. 1 John 1:8-10
THE PREPARED MENU - 1 Corinthians 11:23-25
Just as there is a menu of what you will serve when you have folks over for
dinner, there is a menu for the Lord's Table. Of course, the purpose for
this table is not for the purpose of filling us up, but for causing us to
reflect, and be thankful for what Jesus has done for us.
The bread is symbolic for the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was the body
that was given for us.
The cup is symbolic for the blood that was shed on our behalf. 1 Peter
THE PLANNED RESULT - Vs. 26
The planned result of the Lord's table is that we will preach to others by
Just about everything we do preaches to others.
When you cheer for a certain team, you "preach" what team you are for.
When you smile or make a nasty face at the mention of someone's name you
"preach" your feelings about that person.
Your good works and bad works also "preach" what kind of a person you are.
The purpose of the Lord's Table is to preach his death to others until Jesus
comes. The greatest message that you and I will ever preach is at the
1 Corinthians 11:23-32
NOT FOR GRANTED
(A SERMON FOR CELEBRATION OF THE LORD'S TABLE)
We take many things for granted.
We flip a switch, and we turn on a faucet and we take for granted that someone is providing us with electricity and running water.
We go to McDonald's or some other fast food restaurant and take for granted that someone has stocked food and arranged for, and trained people to cook and serve it properly.
We come to church and take for granted that the door is open, the church is clean, the bulletin is typed, the lawn is mowed and that someone is there to play the organ and/or piano.
We probably take parts of the service for granted as well. We would miss the hymns if we didn't sing them, but do we ever concentrate on worship as we sing? We would miss the Scriptures if they weren't read, but do we try to get anything out of the Word while it is being read? We would be upset if we didn't hear a Bible-based message, but is the preaching of the Word viewed by us as something that will help change our lives, or mere entertainment? How much of the worship service are we taking for granted?
Today we come to a routine time in our worship. It is the time that we regularly come to the communion table. We call the celebration "Holy Communion" or "The Lord's Table". Do we take this part of our service for granted, not paying much attention to our responsibilities at the Lord's Table? Or do we allow this time to really minister to our lives.
It is my prayer that the verse by verse study of this passage will help us get more out of our participation at the Lord's Table, and that we will not take the Lord's Table for granted. As we 1 Corinthians -32 we come to the following conclusions.
1. CELEBRATION OF THE LORD'S TABLE IS A SACRED EVENT. Vs. 23
It was received "of the Lord".
2. CELEBRATION OF THE LORD'S TABLE MEANS REMEMBERING THE LORD'S DEATH AND PROCLAIMING FAITH IN IT FOR SALVATION. Vss. 24-26
3. THE BREAD AND THE CUP REMIND US OF THE BROKEN BODY AND SHED BLOOD OF CHRIST. Vss. 24-25
4. EACH BELIEVER IS TO EXAMINE HIMSELF BEFORE PARTAKING OF THE BREAD AND THE CUP. Vs. 27-28
5. THE LORD WILL CHASTEN US IF WE PARTAKE OF THE LORD'S TABLE IN AN UNWORTHY MANNER. Vss. 29-32
There is a difference between being unworthy (We all are!) and partaking in an unworthy manner. An unworthy manner means I am partaking without confessing sin, or taking the Lord's Table lightly.
1 Corinthians 11:23-34
THE LORD’S TABLE
WHAT A SCENE! – Vss. 23-25
The first communion service is described.
WHAT A SERMON! – Vs. 26
When we take of the bread and the cup we proclaim His death
WHAT A SCANDAL! – Vs. 27
We are all unworthy to partake of the bread and the cup but are to do so anyway.
However, we take of the bread and the cup in an unworthy manner, then it is sin!
WHAT A SEARCH! – Vs. 28
We are to examine ourselves before we partake of the bread and the cup. 1 John 1:9
WHAT A SUMMARY! – Vss. 29-34
1. When we eat and drink in an unworthy manner we are inviting judgment. Vs. 29
2. Judgment includes sickness and death. Vs. 30
3. If we judge ourselves before we partake of the Lord’s Table, God will not judge us. Vs. 31
4. When we are judged it is because we are God’s children. Vs. 32
5. We are to be very careful in our approach to the Lord’s Table. Vss. 33-34
1 Corinthians 11:23-34
YOU ARE HERE (A communion meditation.)
As we gather around the Lord's table, we often do not consider its significance. As you come to the table, you must remember that you are here for a purpose.
YOU ARE HERE TO REMEMBER JESUS - Vss. 23-25
See Isaiah 53:4-8 and 1 Peter 1:18-19
YOU ARE HERE TO PREACH HIS DEATH - Vs. 26
The word "shew" means to proclaim.
YOU ARE HERE TO EXAMINE YOURSELF - Vss. 27-34