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Author:Rev. W.B. Slomp
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Congregation:Immanuel Canadian Reformed Church
 Edmonton, Alberta
 www.edmontonimmanuel.ca
 
Title:Eating and Drinking Makes You One with Christ and with Each Other
Text:LD 28 LD 28 & 29 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Lord's Supper
 
Preached:2011-02-06
Added:2011-04-25
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Sing: 

Psalm 133: 1, 2

Hymn 1B

Psalm 105: 2, 3

Psalm 16: 1

Psalm 23: 1, 2, 3

Hymn 30: 1-5

 

Read:

Genesis 2: 17-22; Ephesians 5: 21-32; Matthew 26: 26-30.

Text: Lord's Day 28 & 29

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


Beloved congregation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, brothers and sisters,
 
It is not pleasant to be separated from loved ones. It can be quite painful. Young adults experience that when they have to be away from home for an extended period of time. That sometimes happens because they found a job away from their family, or because they have to go to a college or university in another city or province or country even. Parents also experience pain when their children start leaving the home and live elsewhere. Then you miss your children and your grandchildren.
 
But, the pain of separation is especially felt when you are in love. Suppose you are engaged and you cannot be together with your fiancé for quite some time. This could happen, for example, when your fiancé has to serve his country overseas because he is in the army, or because he or she has to go abroad because he or she works for an international company.
 
In order to lessen the pain and not to forget each other, you try to keep contact as much as possible. One of the things you would do, no doubt, is to exchange pictures. You would put that picture of your fiancé in your wallet so that you can look at his or her face once in a while to be reminded of what he or she looks like. It makes you feel closer and it reminds you of the wonderful relationship that you have with one another.
 
It also brings to mind the fact that some day you are going to be together again, and live together as husband and wife. Pictures help you during the time of separation. It helps you look forward to better times, to being together again. It helps you to look forward to your wedding day, to the time that you will never be separated again for large extended periods of time.
 
You may say: what does all this have to do with these Lord's Days that deal with the Lord's Supper? Well, quite a bit. For the catechism itself connects the Lord's Supper to marriage. For look at what it says in answer 76. It says there that "although Christ is in heaven and we are on earth, yet we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bones."
 
What does that remind you of? Does that not remind you of what we just read a moment ago in Genesis 2 regarding Adam and Eve?
 
When the Lord God created a woman for him, Adam was absolutely delighted. He saw how all the animals were created with a counterpart; how God created them male and female. When he saw that he wanted the same. The Lord God kindled that desire within him. Adam felt alone without a partner. And so God created Eve out of one of his own ribs. That made it doubly clear that they belonged together. They were one physically and spiritually. Therefore their desire is for each other.
 
That's what the Lord God also wants to have with us. He wants us to be one with him. He also wants us to be delighted in each other's presence. He wants us to experience the unity we have with him in every way possible.
 
The unity that we have with God through Christ is through the sharing of his body and blood. And that is represented by the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper. He wants the unity between us to be as intimate and deep as the unity between a husband and his wife. That great joy that Adam experienced, and which he spoke about when he cried out in delight "flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones", we can now experience with the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our groom. By eating and drinking his body and blood we can experience the unity that we have with him. It is like that picture in your wallet. That is what the Lord's Supper represents. The Lord’s Supper serves as a reminder of the unity we have with Christ, and also of the unity that we have with each other as the body of Christ.
 
That is what we will hear about this afternoon. The theme is as follows:
Eating and Drinking Makes You One with Christ and with Each Other.
We will see:
1. Unity with God;
2. Unity with each other.
 
Unity is often expressed in eating a meal together. Families do that on a regular basis, or at least that is what a family ought to do. Family life is enhanced when you sit down together around the same table and share the same food. Families that do not eat and drink together drift apart. Meals are not only a time of sharing food and drink, but also a time of sharing one another's lives. You talk about the things that have happened to you during the day, and about the kinds of hopes and dreams you have, and the feelings and problems and opinions you have. You share one another's wisdom and insight. You encourage one another. Mealtimes are very important in creating bonds.
 
Families express their unity especially on special occasions, at Christmas, for example, or at Thanksgiving, or at a special anniversary. These are times of celebration. You celebrate together by eating a special meal. Then you get together not only with close family, but also with faraway family, and with old friends and other people who are near and dear to you. At times like that you celebrate together by eating a meal. Whereas normally you might not drink a glass of wine, on those special occasions you do that. Times like that you look forward to and enjoy. For that is the time of catching up and of enjoying one another's company.
 
Well, that is why the Lord Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper. He wants us to experience the fellowship with him in a meaningful way, in a way that we can celebrate; in a way that we can enjoy and reflect on the bond that he has created with us. The meal of the Lord's Supper is a time of remembrance, and also a time of joyously looking forward to what the future holds.
 
It is significant that the Lord Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper at the time of Passover. That was a special time of the year for the Jews. Many of them went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover feast. The biggest part of the feast was the special meal that they would eat. The Lord God instituted the Passover meal in remembrance of what happened at the beginning of their history as God's nation. For as you know, the Passover meal was instituted when the Israelites were still in Egypt.
 
That was a difficult time for them. As slaves they were treated very harshly by the Egyptians. But then the Lord God promised to them through Moses that he would rescue them from Egypt. He promised that he would set them free from slavery. In order to bring that about, the Lord God sent many plagues upon the Egyptians. And just before the very last plague, the Lord God commanded them to eat a Passover meal. Each family had to slaughter a lamb, which was to be eaten with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. The leaven, or the yeast, represented sin. Their lives were full of sin, and the yeast was to remind them of that sin. The bread had to be without yeast, just like their lives had to be without sin. And the bitter herbs were to remind them of their bitter plight at the hands of the Egyptians. The Passover meal was to be eaten while they were standing to indicate their readiness to go on their journey in the desert away from Egypt.
 
Ever since then, every year the Israelites would eat the Passover. It was to remind them of what God had done for them. He had delivered them from the land of Egypt, had brought them into a land of their own, as free men and women.
 
The celebration of the Passover Supper at the time of Christ differed somewhat from the time of its institution. Wine, representing the blood of the lamb, would be drunk with the meal at four different times. First just before the meal was served, then after a small portion of the bread and the bitter herbs were eaten, after which they would sing the first part of the “Hallel”, which was the hymn of praise consisting of Psalms 113 and 114. After that they would eat some more of the unleavened bread and the bitter herbs, and then eat of the Paschal lamb itself. After that the third cup of wine was poured. That was also called "the cup of blessing". It was called the cup of blessing because of the prayer offered over the cup: “Blessed are you, O Lord our God, who gives us the fruit of the vine.” After the fourth cup, the rest of the “Hallel” was sung (Psalms 115 to 118). This is the hymn referred to in the passage dealing with the institution of the Lord's Supper in Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26. Many authorities believe that the specific verse that was sung was Psalm 118:24: “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
 
And so, Passover looks back with thankful remembrance to Israel's redemption and liberation from Egypt by the act of God. To remind them of how God was with them every step of the way as they were led out of Egypt, and as they made their way through the Red Sea on dry land, and through the desert. It is to remind them of how God cared for them. How he fed them. How he led them into the Promised Land. How he defeated their enemies. It was to remind them of the great bond that he had created with them. It was to remind them of the great love for them, and of his desire to be near them.
 
And now the Lord Jesus, when he instituted the Lord's Supper, connects it up with the Passover in a wonderful way. Just before the third cup, the cup of blessing, the Lord Jesus picks up the unleavened bread which is like a big round cracker, and he breaks the bread into pieces and gives a piece to each one of his disciples. But instead of saying the normal words of blessing, he says something totally different. He says "this is my body". Of course they understood very well that he was not referring to his own body as he broke the bread. It was obvious that the bread was not his actual body, as the Roman Catholics teach. He was standing there bodily among them. No, he means that that broken bread represents his body.
 
After this they eat the flesh of the lamb offering. And then the third cup is poured, the cup of blessing. But once again the normal words of blessings are not uttered. "This", he says, "is the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for the forgiveness of sins." You can imagine that this makes quite an impression on the disciples. What is the Lord Jesus doing? Why does he change the Passover celebration in this way? Why does he change it from the way it had been celebrated for hundreds of years?
 
Later on they understood this. Then they understood that these words of the Lord Jesus refer to the crucifixion he was about to suffer to atone for mankind’s sins. They also understood that the lamb itself referred to the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus had to go to the cross as a lamb to the slaughter. He had to shed his blood for them.
 
So you see that there is a close connection and a great similarity between the celebration of the Passover as a feast of the old covenant and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper as a feast of the new covenant. The Passover looks back with thankful remembrance to the people’s redemption and liberation from Egypt by the act of God, associated with the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. The Lord's Supper looks back with thankful remembrance to redemption by the act of God through the sacrifice of Christ. And that is why the Scriptures, as we see in 1 Corinthians 5:7, also links the two, the Passover and the Lord's Supper. For the apostle Paul says “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
 
The Lord's Supper looks at the wonderful thing that God has done through his Son by giving us eternal life. And he does that in spite of the fact that we are not such a good bride. Our loyalties are often divided. We do not love God as we should. That is why it is good that, as the Scriptures say, God loved us first. He loves us in spite of our sins. And he wants to make sure that we understand that unity that he has created. He wants us to understand that in spite of our sins we may be one with him. It’s his wonderful gift to us.
 
He also wants us to understand that when we eat the Lord's Supper that then he is spiritually present at the table. Through his Holy Spirit his words are applied to us, and given to us to dwell within us. When we celebrate then we can hear the very words that that Lord Jesus himself spoke at the time of the institution, namely that he grants us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life because of his shed blood and broken body.
 
2. But, he wants us to experience that in an even more meaningful way. We come to the second point. When we eat and drink the elements of the bread and wine, then those elements become one with our bodies. The bread and the wine are then turned into flesh and blood. In this way we have a most intimate sharing with Christ. For as we know, the bread and the wine represent the body and blood of Christ.
 
And when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we do that as a corporate body. In other words we do that as a covenant community, as church. We collectively are the body of Christ. That is what Paul says in Ephesians 5:30 where he speaks about us as being members of his body. He calls this a mystery. But that mystery is revealed to us, to the bride. As believers we now understand that we are one with Christ together.
 
And the Lord Jesus is working in us through his Holy Spirit so that on the last day we can be as a radiant bride, as a radiant church as Paul says in Ephesians 5:27, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. That is what unites us. And that is why we belong together, and that is why we also have to go together to the Lord’s Supper table. It is God’s command to be one with him, to be one with one another, to be His body.
 
Through the blood of Christ, a great bond has been created with us as covenant children of Christ. For see what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17: "Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf."
 
We live in a day and age where people want to experience something in a real way, in a very personal way. They want to feel something. They want to feel that they are alive. They want to feel that they are loved, and that they are of some significance in one way or the other. They want something unique and spellbinding to happen to them. And so they look for ways to experience that, so that their emotions and their feelings can be stirred to the core of their being. That is why you have churches where the people are brought into a trance by the music and by the repetition of certain phrases. Those churches cater to those people who want to feel God's Spirit in this way.
 
When you look at the way that we celebrate the Lord's Supper from that perspective, then that can be somewhat disappointing. The people go up to the table, often with drawn faces, and with a serious look on them. It seems all so drab and so sober.
 
But, now take a close look at what really happens in the Lord's Supper. Think about that, brothers and sisters. That is where we can experience God's presence in a much more meaningful way, through every sense of our being. We can hear the words. We can see the elements with our eyes, representing the body and blood of Christ. We can smell the bread and the wine and taste it. All our senses are engaged.
 
It is indeed a somber event, but at the same time it is a joyful event. It is a somber event because we remember our sins, but it is a joyful event because we can experience the forgiveness of sins. As we sit around the table we should experience that joy.
 
But, in order to experience that in a meaningful way, you have to open up your heart. And you do that through faith. Your faith is the mouth of your heart. And so faith is not just something that exists in your head, in words and thoughts and feelings, but it also engages your body, your hands and your mouth.
 
The symbolism of the bread and the wine is absolutely wonderful. For it brings to mind so many images. We need food and drink in order to stay alive. And we need the spiritual food and drink in order to remain spiritually alive. It is great to know that God feeds you and me. That he nourishes us and that he gives us drink to quench our spiritual thirst.
 
He does that especially on Sundays when we come together as covenant community to hear the preaching. For then you are fed with God's Word. Then you are reminded of what God has done for you, and what he will continue to do for you. But when we celebrate the Lord's Supper together, then we experience that in a different way. Then all our senses are engaged.
 
Then especially we are reminded of what the first coming of the Lord Jesus was about, and we look forward to the second coming of the Lord Jesus. Then he will come as the groom for his bride.
 
When the Scriptures speak about the Lord Jesus as the groom, and his church as the bride, we have to realize that the actual wedding has not yet taken place. As church we are still looking forward to that. The great wedding day is still coming.
 
You have to understand that from the customs concerning marriage during the days of Christ. For those customs were a little bit different from what we are used to today. At that time you were first betrothed to be married. That is more than an engagement as we know it today. It actually meant that you are already married except that you are not yet living together, and have not yet consummated the marriage. That will happen at the actual wedding day.
 
It is in that sense that we are now already married to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are betrothed to him. But the actual wedding still has to take place. (We are looking forward to that!) And that will take place on the last day. For that is when we can experience unity with Christ and with one another in fullness. Then we will truly be one with God and with one another. Then there will be no more barriers. There will be no more separation. And now we are looking forward to that final day.
 
The book of Revelation speaks about the wonderful day as if it has already happened. It says in chapter 19:7-9, "Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, “These are the true words of God.” This the fulfillment of what Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 62:5 where the Lord God says, "As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you."
 
Let me ask you, are you living a life of expectation? Are you like that fiancée who is separated from her loved one, and who is eagerly awaiting his return? Do you live your life in anticipation of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ? Brothers and sisters, what a wonderful day that will be. Oh sure, there is still a lot of living to be done today. God gives us this time on earth to enjoy ourselves. But, this enjoyment has no meaning if you do not realize what God has done for you; how he has provided for you throughout your whole life; how he has sent his Son in the flesh to die for your sins, and to secure eternal life for you and for me.
 
And so, brothers and sisters, let the Lord God fill your heart and your minds with the knowledge of his presence, and with the knowledge of the eternal presence that you will have with him in the life hereafter. The Lord God is near you. He is in your heart and in your mind. And he wants to remain there. He wants you to experience him always in this life and in the life to come. Amen
 
 



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. W.B. Slomp, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: www.edmontonimmanuel.ca

(c) Copyright 2011, Rev. W.B. Slomp

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