Text: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Title: In Remembrance of Me
Theme: Our Lord Jesus Christ established the Holy Communion so that we can be constantly reminded of his eternal and unconditional love for us.
In the months of July and August, we’ll deviate from our regular preaching on the Sermon on the Mount. Instead, we’ll address some of the topics that the congregation has expressed interest in.
This morning, my sermon topic is the Lord’s Supper. It is also known as the Holy Communion. In most protestant churches, including HCC, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are considered sacraments because our Lord established them.
Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,…” The early church obeyed; and whenever people came to
know Jesus as Christ, as God, they were baptized. In today’s passage, 1
Cor.11:23-25, “…..that the Lord
Jesus on the night when 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
also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my
blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of
At HCC, we observe the Lord’s Supper on the first Sunday of every month. I am certain that you are all familiar with this practice. However, very often because this is something we do frequently, it is easy for us to forget its meaning. This morning, we’ll study the meaning and implications of this important doctrine on the Lord’s Supper.
In the heart of the Lord's Supper are these words, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” If we are to understand the Lord's Supper, we need to understand what is a covenant.
I. Covenant describes God's promise to man.
1. A covenant is not a contract. A contract is an agreement between two parties. They both agree to the content and sign it. This signed document will have to be notarized to make it authentic and binding.
2. A Covenant is always unilateral. The biblical understanding of covenant is that it is originated and initiated from God, directed to his people. It is neither bargain nor an exchange. It does not say that if you do this, then I’ll do that. The closest example we can come to is the wedding vows.
In every wedding, there is a time to exchange the vows. Sometimes it is also known as the wedding covenant. It goes like this: “I, take you, to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to understand, till death shall part us, according to the design of God in creation and commit myself completely to you.” This is a unilateral promise. I have never heard a marriage vow in which the bride or groom would say, “Since you have loved and committed yourself to me, therefore I promise to take you as my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse……,” No, it’s a unilateral promise, therefore the bride and groom would exchange their promises to each other. God's covenant is like this: An unilateral promise to us.
3. The content of God's covenant is about God's relation with his people. At different times in the Old Testament, the content would vary, but the general theme has always been this, “I am your God and you are my people”. Genesis 17:7, “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.” Jeremiah 31:33, “…..And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Then, 1 Peter 2:9a, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession…”
Now, notice that this God is the one who created the heaven and earth. He is the holy, loving, merciful and faithful God. “You” refers to us, the sinners. At times we are rebellious toward him, we are stubborn in our ways and often refuse to repent and turn to him. It is this God saying to people like us, “I am your God and your are my people.” “I will love you with everlasting love.” It does not say, if you obey all my commandments, if you are good, do your daily devotions, then I will be your God and you shall be my people. There is no condition.
Covenant is about God making a promise, to his people that he is their God and they belong to him. Covenant is about God's relationship with his people.
II. The covenant is sealed by blood.
What do the bride and groom do after they exchange the vows? They give each other a ring. What for? When the groom gives the bride the ring, he is sealing his promise. Meaning, this is a done deal, what I just promised will not change.
did God do when he made a covenant with man? Let’s take a look at one example.
In Genesis 15 is a covenant God made with Abraham; God would give Abraham’s
descendents the land, from the
Why do we call this the new covenant? It is new, because in Jesus words, “this is my body which is broken for you,…this cup is the new covenant in my blood.” This means, through his death, he seals and completes God's covenant with his people. The Old Testament covenant was sealed with animal’s death. But the new covenant is sealed with Jesus'' death. When Jesus was on that cross, our sins were upon him. He bore God's wrath and was punished because of our sins. Because of his death, our sins are forgiven and we are reconciled with God. With his death, once and for all, we can be assured of the truth that God is our God and we will always be his people.
Our success and failure in life will not affect this relationship. We may be unfaithful, we may have disobeyed him, we may have refused to be repentant and continue in our rebellious ways, but his commitment, his love for us will never change. Parents may say, “You are my boy, because you have done so well in school,” but God says, “you are my child, no matter what, and I love you very much.”
Romans 8:35-37 explains this well, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?..........No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Jesus, through his death had sealed the covenant. Nothing can change the promise that he is our God and we are his people.
III. The significance of the Lord's Supper.
So what does this mean to us when we participate in the Lord's Supper? There are several observations we need to know and understand.
1. The purpose of the Lord's Supper is to remember Jesus.
clearly stated, “do this, in remembrance of
Through his death we enter into this relationship with God: God is our God and we are his people. This is God's unconditional love towards us. We have come to him in our brokenness and sinfulness, yet he has never changed his love for us. There is no shadow of change with him.
How frequent are we to observe the Lord's Supper? The Bible does not give us any specific instruction on this. The early Christians seemed to observe it very frequently, probably at least once a week. Some churches today hold the Lord's Supper every Sunday, while most churches, including HCC do it once a month. There are no set rules on this.
2. The elements used in the Lord's Supper are symbols.
the Lord's Supper, we use the bread to symbolize Christ's body. Jesus teaches
us that “this is my body, which is broken for you.” Like the bread the
Israelites ate the night they left
Since the bread and juice are symbols of Christ's death, in the protestant churches, we do not believe that after the minister’s prayers, the bread will literally become Christ’s body and the juice Christ's blood. Since they are symbols, therefore the kind, the shape and size of the bread, grape juice or wine is of secondary importance. There is freedom and variation from church to church.
3. Who should take part in the Lord's Supper.
The Lord's Supper is a reminder of God's love for his people, a reminder of God's covenant with his people; those who are a part of his redeemed community. It is therefore limited to the believers, those who have trusted God and expressed it through baptism.
4. Spiritual significance of the Lord's Supper.
Since this is an act of remembrance, is there more beyond the memorial aspect? Some Christians look at it strictly as a memorial. But it is important to understand that in the Lord’s Supper, as we remember that God is our God and we are his people, he has loved and is loving us, despite who we are. Through the physical elements we are brought into the presence of this loving God. This is what encourages and nurtures us.
5. The future hope.
Jesus told his disciple that he would not take this bread with them until they are in God's kingdom. Matthew 26:29, “I tell you 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.” He is saying that he will die but will also risen from the dead. There will come a day, when the disciple will be taking this Lord's Supper with him again in the new heaven and earth. So, whenever we take the bread and cup, we also look forward to the day when we’ll see our God face to face. We will be at where he is. Whenever we take this communion, it reminds us that this world is temporal, it is the spiritual world that will last forever. As children of God, we have hope in Jesus Christ.
In a wedding, we seal our vows, our promises with a ring. However, living in a broken and fallen world, as individuals carry marks of sin on us, there are numerous times when we can’t keep our vows. So promises are broken, and we take the ring off, signifying the end of the relationship.
Not so with God's covenant. His covenant is unilateral. It is originated from him and by him. He promises to be our God and we are his people. He promised to love us with everlasting love. Furthermore, he seals his promises with the body and blood of Jesus Christ. He uses the death of Jesus Christ to demonstrate his love for us. This is a seal that will not break. This is an eternal covenant.
One minister shared this with a group of counselors. Before he got married, he and his fiancé would discuss what some of the discouraging life events they may face in the future and how they should handle it. They talked about what if their teenage daughter came home one day and told them she was pregnant, what would they do?
Later they did have a daughter. And the daughter got pregnant at age 14. After the daughter told them about the news, the first thing the father did was to embrace her and said, “I love you.” He did what he planned years ago. Because years ago, even before her birth, he had made a choice to love his daughter no matter what.
So, whenever we take this bread and cup, we remember that even before our birth, before we know him, he has first chosen us and promised that he is our God and we are his beloved people, no matter what.
For this reason, whenever we take the bread and the cup, we go away with a renewed faith, a strengthened desire to live a life a life that reflects we are God's people and are dearly loved by him.