NEW TESTAMENT WORSHIP CONCEPTS Lesson 3 of 3 THE LORD'S SUPPER: ITS PURPOSE
The N.T. concept of worship seems to indicate that our focus should be on one
another... in order to serve God.
How does the Lord's Supper fit into this concept?
Men have said, "Lock your thoughts on God. Put away every worldly thought.
Concentrate on Jesus crucified."
What about the horizontal benefit? What about my brother?
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
Paul dealt with problems - offered solutions all through the book. A problem - the solution.
The same is true here.
In this lesson, let's look at the actual observance of the Lord's Supper in the 1st Century
church in order to find its purpose.
Many people misunderstand the issue here in I Cor. 11 because of preconceived
ideas about the text and about what is going on. Remember, each chapter is
loaded with problems in this church. They have a nasty spirit and they are biting
and devouring one another. Self is the most import thing to these brothers and
sisters. You can say that they are abusing the Lord's Supper by turning it into a
common meal, but the context begs to differ with that assumption. Basically, he
tells them that if they cannot eat a common meal together with the right spirit
toward one another, what makes them think they can take the Lord's Supper in the
way it was intended. Think this through.
When Paul writes this part of the text, his mind is on their spirit and actions toward
one another. When he brings up the Lord's Supper, he does so as an illustration.
Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper in the context of a meal together. These
brothers most likely took the Lord's Supper during the Love Feast (dinner on the
ground). Some gobbled their food down and rushed for more while there were
others, most likely the poor, who got nothing. They felt betrayed. Basically, Paul
says, "Brothers, if this is the spirit you have when you eat a common meal... when
you do eat the Lord's Supper, it is not really the Lord's Supper you eat." You see,
the Lord's supper is not only about the elements of the bread and the wine. It is
also about serving one another. With the spirit they had, they had no desire nor
inclination to serve one another.
A couple of things you might want to consider and watch for in this text is the time
element Paul reminds them of. We say, "concentrate on the cross and the day
Jesus died." Paul calls them to the night He was betrayed. What did Jesus do the
night He was betrayed? He served the disciples. He washed their feet. He even
protected Judas at the table. He loved the three who went to sleep on Him three
times. He stepped out in front of the disciples when the mob came to take Him to
protect them and take the eyes of the mob off of them. If the day Christ died was
the focus, why did he call them to remember the "night He was betrayed?"
Is the Lord's Supper to remember the death of Christ? Yes! But, Paul puts the
WHY Jesus died in the matter. He served us where we could do nothing for
ourselves. We do not forget that He died for us. But, we do often forget to serve
one another. The Lord's Supper calls us away from betraying one another, and in
turn, betraying Him.
THE PROBLEM OF THE LOVE FEAST
The general problem identified - v. 17-19
There was an inward spirit of not getting along with one another.