Skip to content
Aug 2 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

July 31, 2010

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which 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 He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.  1 Corinthians 10:14-17; 11:23-26

INTRO: It might seem strange – in a letter devoted to spirituality that Paul would spend four chapters talking about food

When you think about it, food consumes a lot of our thoughts
– have you ever gone out to enjoy dinner at a great restaurant with friends, and find yourself talking about the delicious food in other great restaurants?
– it seems sometimes that we are obsessed with food

Meals have different meanings for us:
– the power lunch
– a quick bite
– a healthy breakfast
– a romantic dinner
– the family meal

There are also different names for the “Lord’s Supper” (11:20), but there is only one meaning
– from the Greek word translated “share” (10:16) we get, “Communion”
– from the Greek for “given thanks” (11:24) we get, “Eucharist”
But the meaning behind this meal is that a fusion occurs between our soul and Jesus’s soul
– and as a result of that bond, one is created between us and others
– in biblical times, a shared meal forged a relationship between people, so who you ate with was really important

The Lord’s Supper is a “family meal” in this sense–eating from one loaf, we become one body
– even though we are definitely a dysfunctional family, real love occurs around the Lord’s table
– that is because the One who hosts the meal, stands outside of our dysfunction
This, in fact, is Paul’s primary theme through out this entire section (chs. 8-14)
– that “love” should be at the heart of it is not surprising (ch. 13)
– even here in ch. 10, Paul begins the chapter with a brief review of Israel’s history to illustrate their oneness

. . . our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock, which followed them; and the rock was Christ. (1 Co. 10:1-4)

  • Notice how many times he uses “all” to indicate their solidarity and oneness
  • Notice also how Paul was conscious, not only of the fact that their food and drink were “spiritual,” but that it came from Christ (see also Jn. 6:54-58, 63–we will come to appreciate this fact even more later on)

The Lord’s Supper, for the individual soul and Jesus is more like a “romantic dinner”

Why Did Paul Bring Up Lord’s Supper?

Because it had entangled in some controversial issues

  • ch. 10: the challenge food presented them in their daily lives and social interactions
    his purpose was to create in them a feeling of dissonance (inner conflict, 10:21)
  • ch. 11: the challenge of food in church meetings
    his purpose was twofold:
     – to teach them to show reverence for their meetings and respect for all who attend (11:17-22)
     – to teach them the spiritual value of Lord’s Supper; how it affects personal faith and spiritual community

Throughout Christian History People Have Encountered God In the Lord’s Supper

Simone Weil:
There was a young English Catholic [in a small village] from whom I gained my first idea of the supernatural power of the sacraments because of the truly angelic radiance with which he seemed to be clothed after going to communion.

And . . . Christ is our bread. We can only ask to have him now. Actually he is always there at the door of our souls, wanting to enter in, though he does not force our consent. . . We have not been given a will that can be applied to the future. . . The effective part of the will has its effect at once . . . . it is not effort . . . . It is consent; it is the ‘yes’ of our marriage. A ‘yes’ pronounced within the present moment and for the present moment, but spoken as an eternal word, for it is consent to the union of Christ with the eternal part of our soul.

Notice how the Lord’s Supper relates to time, “you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes”

  • his death is past tense
  • his coming is in the future
  • “eat,” “drink,” and “proclaim” are present tense

We live in between the two great, history-changing events of the Lord’s first and second coming
– but we are not cut off from either event; we (re)present the past and anticipate the future
– and we do this in the here and now of our lives–we meet the Alpha and Omega at the table in the present moment

Jesus intended this sacred meal to make him as tangibly present to our mind as possible
– it is based on  the theology of the Incarnation–that grace, and truth, and life (even the life of God) can be embodied in and transmitted through matter (Jn. 1:1, 14, 17-18)

What Happens In Communion?

A fusion takes place between soul of the believer and the soul of Christ
– it is understood as a critical moment in our life; a turning point
– we are allowing God to enter us and take over

How does that fusion occur?
10:16, by ingesting the bread and the cup, we have a “share” in the body and blood of Christ
– “share” (Greek, koinonia) a rich word with many meanings: partner, partnership, to have a part, to participate, communicate, commune
– a real penetration of the Spirit of Christ into our spirit occurs, establishing a real connection
– this is not easy for the mind to grasp, but Jesus is spiritually and truly present in this meal
11:24-25, we remember Jesus
– the “remembrance” does not mean to “recall”

  • We are not supposed to simply remembering an event – Jesus’ death, the meal, a miracle
  • We remember the Person, who died, broke the bread, and healed leper
  • It is to bring to mind, to contemplate and become conscious of him in the here and now- “Look at me!”

Imaginary conversation:
“Did you receive the package I sent you? If not, it’s because you weren’t home.”
God is constantly sending packages of grace, but we have to be home to receive them

  • Come home to our senses in this present moment
  • Come home to awareness
    – of what we hold in our hand and heart
    – of what we are doing physically and what is happening spiritually at the same time

We want our souls to be responsive to God
 – worship is an expression of our response
 – but the response has to come first, and be the motive for our worship
God is not interested in a mere act of worship, but what is in our heart toward him as we worship (Mt. 15:7-8-9)

Our spirit is awakened by Jesus’ presence – it is brought to life by his invasion of us
This experience of our spirit rises into our consciousness
– it does not work the other way around–i.e., from our intellect down into to our spirit

Why Do We Take Communion Again and Again?

The obvious:

  • as a reminder
  • for the renewal of our heart, mind and soul
  • to refresh ourselves in forgiveness

But less obvious: we are keenly conscious of the transience of beauty
– the splendor of sunset disappears into darkness
– the delicate form of the flower wilts as it turns brown
Beauty also fades from our memory

To re-experience beauty is to reawaken the feelings it evoked
– these feelings are necessary in the conquest of our will
– otherwise, we find ourselves forcing the will to do what God desires or asks
– a will conquered by the pleasure and love of beauty is a will that is at one with God’s will

CONC: The Lord’s Supper can expand the horizon of our thinking about the presence of Jesus
– it is possible for this to continue until it becomes a way of life

I think the goal is to eventually come to the place where we live the whole of our life through God

  • that we see everything and everyone through the eyes of God
  • that we live and breathe through God
  • then to us,
    the star-sprayed sky reveals the sacred
    the face of a child reveals the sacred
    the broken body bound to a wheel chair reveals the sacred
  • and every activity feels very much like a sacrament
Leave a comment