Family Bible Study lesson for June 13: The Lord's Supper : Friday, May 28, 2004
May 28 2004 by Vic Ramsey

Family Bible Study lesson for June 13: The Lord's Supper : Friday, May 28, 2004
Friday, May 28, 2004

Family Bible Study lesson for June 13: The Lord's Supper

By Vic Ramsey
Focal Passage: Matthew 26:26-29; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32

"Would you have dinner with me?"

That question has begun a million romances. Intuitively, we know that sharing a meal with someone helps form or deepen a relationship.

Most family reunions involve a big meal, as do church homecomings. The strength of family relationships can often be judged by the number of meals where every member is present. One of the loneliest places in the world is eating alone in a crowded restaurant.

When societies wish to prevent relationships from being formed, as between Jews and Samaritans in first century Palestine, or between blacks and whites, sharing of meals is forbidden.

Sharing a meal together mysteriously binds people. It's no coincidence that Jesus would latch onto a shared meal as a means for binding his followers together with one another and with Himself.

Instituted by Christ

Matthew 26:26-29

The disciples gathered to celebrate the Passover (v. 17), a ritual commemorating Israel's salvation from Pharaoh's army. The Passover seder consisted of a full meal, interspersed with prayers and recitations of the Exodus story.

The bread used at Passover is unleavened, a reminder that the Israelites fled in haste. The drink Jesus called "the fruit of the vine" was most likely wine.

Today, Baptists, as heirs of the 19th century temperance movement and being sensitive to those who abstain from all alcoholic beverages, commonly substitute unfermented grape juice.

Jesus filled the Passover ritual with new meaning. The bread, he said, was "My body." The cup contains "My blood." Christians understand these affirmations in different ways.

Catholics believe in transubstantiation - that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ, even though they do not change in appearance. Lutherans and others hold to consubstantiation - that Jesus is somehow involved with the bread and wine, "in, with and under" the elements as Christians share them together.

Evangelicals, including most Baptists, have a symbolic understanding of the elements, that they represent the body and blood of Christ. Be careful of the phrase "just a symbol." There is nothing trivial about symbols. Saying the elements are symbolic does not mean that Christ is absent from the Lord's Supper.

Reminder to the church

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Jesus said, "Do this," a command that gives rise to our description of the Lord's Supper as an "ordinance." We do this because Jesus told us too.

The instructions of Jesus are never arbitrary. He intends for something good to happen when we share the Lord's Supper. In this sense, it is also a "sacrament," not as ritual, which conveys salvation, but as a "channel of grace" through which God blesses us through fellowship with Himself and with one another.

Verses 25 and 26 speak to both a past and future orientation to the Lord's Supper. It is both "in remembrance of Me" and "until He comes." We are driven to reflect on the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Christ, and to wait patiently and hopefully for His return.

Opportunity for examination

1 Corinthians 11:27-32

The phrase "in an unworthy way" (HSCB, "unworthily" KJV) refers to the manner in which the Corinthian church was conducting the Lord's Supper, and not to their individual moral condition. Specifically, the church members were eating and drinking without waiting for all to arrive, and without sharing with those in need (see vv. 20-22).

In verse 29, Paul admonishes the Corinthians that, when they conduct the Lord's Supper without regard for other church members ("the body"), they bring judgment upon themselves, and not grace. That which was designed to be an instrument of community and fellowship became, instead, divisive.
5/28/2004 12:00:00 AM by Vic Ramsey | with 0 comments

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