Wow. I won’t have the words to describe it here. My mind and heart were completely blown tonight at Austin Stone Community Church. The sermon was based on 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 – The Lords’ Supper.
I’ve been taking communion since I was baptized in the 6th grade. I think I’ve probably heard dozens of great preachers tell me all about the Lord’s Supper and what it means – not to mention the thousands of times they’ve reviewed it right before serving “the elements”. But no, not this time. Matt Carter brought it home. I will never ever experience communion the same way again.
In 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, Paul is talking to the Corinthian Church about The Lord’s Supper. First of all, Matt made it clear that there is no place in the Bible where it says how often or how we are to take communion – but that it does command us to take it – and that we are supposed to examine our hearts before we come. It’s funny how some denominations take it once a quarter, some once a month, and some every Sunday. I always wondered about that.
Paul talks about how taking communion with an unworthy heart is a really big deal – and will result in discipline from God on the same level of big deal as Jesus dying on the cross. Not condemnation but discipline – loving discipline. Paul says in verse 30, “That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.” Matt Carter explained how the original greek for “asleep” is used in other verses in the Bible to mean death. I don’t believe he was telling us that God would make us sick or die if we didn’t do communion right. But I believe whole heartedly that it is a really really big deal.
Jesus’ command was to “..do this in remembrance of me”. Matt explained how “remembrance” was just remembering like we use the term in English – remember the facts. The original meaning was more about re-capturing the significance of the event. Matt went on to explain it with a story about losing his mom. He could stand there and tell us the facts about her death and not be moved by it. But if he were to really think back to that day when he and his dad and sister watched their mom and wife die right in front of them, and the whaling of his dad, and the blank look of hopelessness on his sister’s face, that there is no way he could do so without feeling the full impact of the event and weeping. This is what Jesus meant when he instructed us to “..do this in remembrance of me.”
Paul is talking about how the people of Corinth were showing up to steal the bread and eat it before anyone else could, or how others were getting drunk off of the wine. He told them “..whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.” We might argue that we don’t steal the bread or get drunk off of the grape juice, so this doesn’t apply to us. But it does. We simply cannot come to the Lord’s table without examining our hearts first and recognizing the significance of the event – taking ourselves back to that last day – to the gruesome death that Christ suffered just for us – just for us to be able to be forgiven once and for all. We do this and we ball like babies in awe and thankfulness until He comes back again.
Again, my words here don’t even come anywhere close to the experience I had tonight. Even if you listen to the sermon online, I doubt you will get a fraction of the intensity in that room. I wish everyone could have been there. I mean everyone. It wasn’t there yet as I wrote this, but you can check here to find and listen to the mp3 of the sermon once it is available.