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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:As You Feast, Preach to Your Own Soul so That You Can Preach to Others
Text:LD 29 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Lord's Supper
 
Added:2022-07-13
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: John 4:1-42

Lesson: Lord’s Day 29

 

AS YOU FEAST, PREACH TO YOUR OWN SOUL SO THAT YOU CAN PREACH TO OTHERS

  1. With the Elements

  2. With Understanding

  3. With Assurance

 

  1. Psalm 144: 1, 3, 6

  2. Psalm 40:1, 2, 3, 7

  3. Hymn 7:1-4

  4. Hymn 1

  5. Hymn 62: 1-3

 

Words to Listen For: ducks, puzzle, squares, boring, chicken

 

Questions for Understanding:

  1. What’s wrong with the quote from St. Francis?

  2. Why were bread and wine chosen for the Lord’s Supper?

  3. How are the bread and wine like the minister?

  4. What does it mean to be a partaker?

  5. How is the message of Lord’s Supper like an American restaurant?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved partakers in Christ our Lord,

Many of you have, no doubt, heard the famous phrase attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: Preach the gospel wherever you go, and if necessary, use words.

Even though it sounds so wonderful, think about it for a moment.

 

Preach the gospel wherever you go

This is great...we agree with this.  As Christians, we must be a light in this dark world.

 

Preach the gospel wherever you go,

And if necessary, use words.

Okay, so you can preach the gospel using things other than words.  Your actions, a smile...after all, as our Saviour said, Everyone will know you are my disciples if you love one another.

  • So love...as we hear every Sunday, is the fulfillment of the Law.

  • Love...as we hear quite often from this pulpit, is the fulfillment of the Gospel.

  • And now...love is the fulfillment of evangelism too it seems!

But it’s not quite that simple.  Because even though love is what it is all about, from beginning to end, that love is worked out in different ways.

     Love is shown in pursuing truth.  True faith is an outpouring of love.

     Love is shown when we warn someone of the bad news and share with them the good news.  It isn’t loving to keep the gospel from someone.  It isn’t loving to keep from them the reality that they are living far away from the God of life.

     Love isn’t just shown in a smile or holding a door open for someone.  These things are ELEMENTS of love, but not the ENTIRETY of it.  Love is more than just being nice.

The problem with this saying is that you can’t share the necessary details of the gospel through being nice to people.  A Hindu, or an atheist, or a radical Muslim may smile at someone as they pass them on the road, or hold open a door for them.  How are you sharing the saving gospel of Jesus Christ if you don’t ever talk about Him?

But this doesn’t mean that all there is to the gospel is talking about it.  If you have all your theological ducks in a row but you don’t have love...you’re a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If you actions don’t match your speech, you can turn others off to the gospel message.

So...what are we to do?

How are we to evangelize?

Well, first of all, we have to realize that evangelism is the third step in a process.  You don’t just go out and evangelize.

Though we may think this is the teaching of our reading...there were actually steps taken before the woman at the well went and told others the good news.

Firstly...for us to learn how we are to preach to others...we must first examine how God has preached to us.  This is the first step.  Jesus came to her and declared Himself to be the Messiah.

After God has preached to us, we must then preach to our own soul.  This is the second step.

Soul.  Though you may feel weary, though you may have doubts, put your faith and trust in God.  Praise the Lord, O my soul!  All that is within me, praise His holy name.

Though the woman may have doubted...we see that she asks, “Can He be the Christ” … but she is confident enough to bring the news to the town.  To bring the news to those who hated her and despised her.  All the way from the well to the town, she would be wondering and questioning in her mind.  Preaching to herself:

THIS IS THE MESSIAH!

Is He?

HE IS!  HE IS THE MESSIAH!

And finally, after preaching to ourselves, we can share the gospel with those around us.

COME AND SEE!  COME AND SEE WHAT GOD HAS DONE!

And we can see that the Lord’s Supper is a perfect example of how we can work through those three steps.

Through the Lord’s Supper, we hear God preaching to our souls.

When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together, when we eat, we are both the preacher and the congregation, as we preach to our own souls

And, having been strengthened by this meal, this feast...we are assured, encouraged, and empowered to go out and preach the good news to a world that so desperately needs it.

AS YOU FEAST, PREACH TO YOUR OWN SOUL SO THAT YOU CAN PREACH TO OTHERS

  1. With the Elements

  2. With Understanding

  3. With Assurance

Now, it may seem strange to look at the Lord’s Supper in this way...to see it as an example for how we work through these steps, but if we stop to think about it, it actually makes a good deal of sense.

Because what does the Lord’s Supper do?  What does the Lord’s Supper represent?

As we heard last time, the Lord’s Supper signifies and seals to us Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross.

What is the Lord’s Supper about?

In short...the Lord’s Supper is about one thing: THE GOSPEL.

Now, to be clear, I am not saying that we should invite everyone to join us at the table.  That the first introduction to the church should be eating and drinking at the Lord’s Supper.  Next time, in Lord’s Day 30, we will learn about who should come to the table of the Lord.

But in the Lord’s Supper, we as God’s people hear the gospel.  We see the gospel.  We taste the gospel.  Our God has been so gracious to us, that, in addition to the preached word, He has given us the sacraments to “represent better to our external senses what He declares to us in His Word, and what He does inwardly in our hearts” (B.C. 33).

In baptism, we are given the external element of water.  Just as water washes away the dirt from our bodies, so too do we have the promise that our sins are washed away by the blood of Christ.  The water itself is not special.  The water itself does not transform into the blood of Christ, but it represents that spiritual and very real cleansing.

And just as in baptism, so too are we shown a spiritual reality with regular physical elements.  Bread and wine.

But why these elements?

There are those who say that bread and wine are chosen because they are regular, everyday things.  Just as we are nourished each day with bread and wine, so too are we supposed to be nourished everyday with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And this is true, but it is only part of the picture.  God’s grace, God’s forgiveness, though it is precious and valuable...even though it is costly and amazing...it is not only meant for special occasions.  Each and every day, we are supposed to feast on Jesus Christ through His Word.  We are to be fed by Him through prayer, through singing, through seeking His will for our lives.  Bread and wine are everyday things...and so should God’s grace come to us each and every day.

There are others who say that bread and wine were chosen because these are the elements of feasting.  Since the Lord’s Supper is meant to be a feast, meant to be a celebration, then we should eat those things.  Scripture says that a bit of wine gladdens the heart, and that is what we are to experience at the table.  And this is part of the picture too.  Wine fits with feasting, but bread...not so much.

So what’s the answer here, really, I hear you saying.  Enough little pieces of the puzzle...what is it all about?

This is all about the fulfillment of the Passover.  We have to remember that this first Lord’s Supper was held at the very last Passover.  The first Christian feast was instituted at the last Jewish feast.  And so, our Saviour used the food that was available to Him at that time.

He used the bread.  Bread that was broken and dipped into the mixture of bitter herbs, meant to represent the bitterness of slavery in Egypt.  He experienced this bitterness and suffering for us through His broken body, so that we, His spiritual body, would be made whole.  He experienced the ultimate bitterness and suffering to free us from it.

He used the wine.  And there were 2 different cups of wine served at the end of the meal in Jesus’ day, and we don’t know which one He took.  But both meanings are true for us in the Lord’s Supper.

There was the cup of redemption.  The cup that the people drank in thanksgiving for being redeemed from slavery in Egypt.  And there was the cup of the Kingdom, looking forward to celebrating eternally with God in heaven.

We can see that both the bread and the wine pointed to our salvation in Jesus Christ.  And so, the next time that we feast together...remember what these elements mean.  Remember their history and the richness of the symbols of bread and of wine.  This is what God is teaching you through the sacrament.  This is what you are to remind yourself of.  And this story of redemption...this story of being saved from the bitterness of sin, and saved for celebration in heaven...this is the story that you are to share with others, because this is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But as we are at the table, eating the broken bread, and drinking the wine that was poured out...what exactly are we doing?  What are we eating?  What are we drinking?  In order to properly feast, we have to have understanding of the meal before us.  Our second point.

When we are young, we can be a little in awe over the bread and the wine.  I know this was true for me.  That bread, cut into those perfect squares...that wine, such a deep, rich, red colour.

But surely there’s more to it than that.  Because any one of us could buy that exact bread and that exact wine, and have, seemingly, that exact same meal at home.  So what is going on here?

As we heard last week, there is a difference of opinion here between Roman Catholics and Protestants, and even among Protestants themselves.

The Roman church believes that the bread and the wine are changed, they are transformed the moment that the priest says: Behold, the body of Christ.  Behold, the blood of Christ.

They are transformed...not physically...for one could easily see and taste that the bread remains bread, and the wine remains wine, but they are transformed in their essence.  Though they look the same and taste the same, they have become the literal body and blood of Christ.

The Lutheran church believes that the bread and wine are not themselves changed, but that, when they are blessed, Christ is united with them spiritually.  Christ descends from heaven and is united with the elements, and so Christ is eaten and drank by the members in a spiritual way.

But what does our catechism, faithfully summarizing Scripture say?

     Are then the bread and wine changed into the real body and blood of Christ?

     No.  Just as the water of baptism is not changed into the blood of Christ and is not the washing away of sins itself but is simply God’s sign and pledge, so also the bread in the Lord’s Supper does not become the body of Christ itself, although it is called Christ’s body in keeping with the nature and usage of sacraments.

It’s not about the food, but it is about being FED.

For God has always worked this way, hasn’t He?  Circumcision wasn’t about literally cutting away sin.  It was to show the claim of God and to teach that separation from sin requires sacrifice.  Separation from sin requires blood and pain.  Separation from sin means that you are different than those around you.

In the Passover, the bitter herbs did not BECOME the bitterness of slavery.  That was over and done with already.  It happened ONCE.

In Baptism, even for Roman Catholics, there is no transubstantiation of the water into the blood of Christ.  The water stays as water.  It simply serves as something POINTING to the truth.

You can think of the bread and the wine as a preacher.  When a preacher does his work properly, when he does his work faithfully, when you hear him, you are hearing God speaking THROUGH him.

And you can be thankful for the preacher and his work...but NEVER...and I mean this truly and earnestly...NEVER confuse the message with the messenger.  I am not here, preaching to you so that you learn more about me.  I’m not here preaching to you so that you go away and say… “What a great preacher we have” or “the minister was off today.  His preaching was weaker than usual.”

I am here to show you Christ.  Don’t be distracted by me as a person.  An amazing preacher can distract with his skills, and a poor preacher can distract by making the gospel seem boring.  But a faithful preacher...the preacher that I hope and pray that I am…a faithful preacher will make it all about Christ.  He will not take any glory or fame for himself, but each and every ounce of it, he will give to Christ.

So what is a minister...what is the bread...what is the wine?

I don’t want you coming away with a long list of what these things are NOT.  And so this is what they ARE.

The minister, the bread, and the wine...they are messengers.  They are those things that connect you to a larger reality.  The spiritual reality of salvation.

The minister reminds you of the truths of Scripture.  The minister teaches you about who God is, and who you are as His child.

The bread and the wine remind you of the suffering and the death of Christ.  They are to remind you of the blessing we receive from the bitter suffering He bore.  The Lord’s Supper is meant to make you both mourn and rejoice at the same time.

My sins were SO BAD...that Jesus Christ had to suffer and die for them

AND

My Saviour is SO GOOD...SO LOVING...that Jesus Christ chose to suffer and die for me.

This is what the bread and the wine do.  This is what the bread and wine are.  They are pictures, they are symbols, they are signs, they are seals...but they are not to be worshipped.  They are not to be venerated, or treated as something more than they are.  When we focus on the elements above the Saviour, we sin a terrible sin.

Because the feast is not about the food.  It’s not.  The feast is a meal of blessing.  A meal of comfort.  A meal of assurance.  Our third point.

So far we have looked at what exactly we are feasting on, and why we are feasting on those particular elements.  But why do we feast in general?  What is actually gained at the table?  What we can receive that we then give to others?  What is our “come and see” moment?

When we step down from the Lord’s Supper table, we should feel full.  Not physically full from a tiny bit of bread and tiny sip of wine, but spiritually full.  Because there is no way that we could refer to a single bit and single sip as a FEAST… but spiritually...spiritually we will eat and drink of this feast forever in the Kingdom of Heaven.

     The story of the gospel, that story that the Samaritan woman told her town…

     The story of the gospel, the story that we hear in the preaching, the story we see in baptism, the story we see in the Lord’s Supper

     This story that we are to share with everyone we meet…

This old old story will become the new new song.  The new song of the blood of the lamb.  The blood of the lamb that opened the scrolls.  The blood the lamb that redeemed tribes and nations, transforming sinners into saints.

And it is THIS that we get a foretaste of at the table of the Lord.

It is this assurance that we receive when we receive the bread.

It is this confidence that we receive when we receive the wine.

 

The catechism puts it this way:

He wants to assure us by this visible sign and pledge,

    First,

        That through the working of the Holy Spirit, we share in His true

body and blood as surely as we receive with our mouth these

holy signs in remembrance of Him.

We are PARTAKERS.  This is important to remember - write it on your whiteboard in the kitchen, write it on the calendar on your desk.

I AM A PARTAKER.

I AM A PARTAKER.

I AM A PARTAKER.

What this means is that we are those who have a part in Christ.  We are those who share in His body.  We are those who are intimately connected to Him, our head.  Christ is the head, and the church is the body.  Where He goes, we will go.

The Lord’s Supper teaches us that we are bound with our Saviour with bonds that can never be severed.  We are united to Him with unbreakable chains.

I AM A PARTAKER, and this means that I will join my Saviour where He is.  Either when I die, or when He returns, whichever happens first.  Where the head has gone, the body will follow.  It is more true and more certain that this will happen than that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow.

God has so declared it, and it will happen. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  Those Christ has redeemed WILL go up to be with Him.  And that is the second assurance of our catechism

Secondly,

    That all His suffering and obedience are as certainly ours as if we

personally had suffered and paid for our sins.

This is something that we as Christians need to remember.  And so I’m going to ask you to write something else on that whiteboard.  Something else on that calendar.  It’s 3 words.  3 words that I saw on a receipt once, and have been stamped on my heart ever since...though I still need a reminder at times.

There is a Christian chicken restaurant in the States called Chick Fil’ A.  They are very publicly Christian, and are witnessing in every way that they can.  And one way is through their receipts.  It is a small thing...but the 3 words at the bottom of the receipt are no mistake.

These 3 words are words that apply, not only to the food that you have purchased, but to the salvation that Jesus purchased for each and every one of His people.

What are these words?

PAID

IN

FULL.

Our sins have been PAID IN FULL.  There are no sins left unpaid for the people of God.  This is what the broken body and shed blood tell us.  God has poured out His wrath, and justice has been done.  He would be an UNJUST GOD if He then required further payment from you.

Each of your sins has been scrubbed clean from you.  Though in yourself, you are stained and corrupted...because of Christ, you are new.  You are clean.  You are pure.  This is how God sees you.  This is how God sees me.

And THIS is the “come and see” of the Lord’s Supper.

The woman of Samaria was amazed and astonished that Jesus knew everything she had ever done.  She was amazed that the Messiah would accept water from her sinful hand.

But for you and for me…

God not only knows everything that you have ever done…

    Every evil work and every good work

He has seen everything...and it’s not a pretty picture.

But He’s done more than SEE.

He has seen your sins, and He has washed you clean.  He has seen your problem, and He has provided your solution.  He has provided your SALVATION.  He has united Himself to you with an everlasting bond of love.

And when we know this...when we hear this preached from the pulpit, when we see this demonstrated for us in the sacraments...we have to take it ourselves and use it.  We have to take it ourselves and apply it.  Write it on your whiteboard, preach it to your own soul.  And then spread the gospel wherever you go.

     Spread the gospel in love

     Spread the gospel in confidence

     Spread the gospel in your words and in your works.

AMEN.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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