A Sermon on I Corinthians 10:16-17 for Maundy Thursday, March 29, 2018.
Many of us might be getting ready to head out to a restaurant on Sunday to enjoy Easter Brunch. Restaurants compete for our business by describing the food a person will enjoy. Carved ham, baked chicken breast, mashed potatoes, various salads, and we cannot forget about the plethora of desserts. Are our mouths watering yet at the thought of enjoying this feast? Even if we stay home, the menu is set. Hams, roasts, and other food await all who come. We look forward to these meals. We probably will eat too much, even if we promise ourselves we won’t. Leftovers will sit in the fridge ready for us to enjoy them all week long.
What about the feast set before us today? The table is all set. Soon, we will make the final preparations before coming to this special meal. Are our hearts ready? Do we look forward to partake of this meal as much as the one coming up on Sunday? Maybe, we forget about this meal or take it for granted, but we should never do such a thing. Today, our Lord invites us to this gracious feast.
As we come to the Lord’s Table, we need to know what we are receiving. On the surface it looks like something fairly simple to understand. The bread and wine sit on the table. We hold out our hands to receive those elements. After that we go on our way.
If we think of it so lightly, we miss out on how special this feast is. “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ” (I Corinthians 10:16)? Paul reveals the great mystery of this feast. We do not just eat the bread and drink the wine. Christ’s body and blood are really present in this feast.
We cannot understand how this can be. People try to understand how this can be. How can Christ’s body and blood be present in so many places at once? It does not look like flesh and blood. Underneath a microscope Jesus’ DNA will not be found, so how can this be? Our sinful minds cannot comprehend how Jesus’ body and blood are present in, with, and under the bread and wine. We believe it only because the Bible teaches this, so we accept it on the basis of faith.
Through faith we also recognize how special of an invitation Jesus gives us to partake in this mystery. In this meal Christ comes to us in the most intimate of ways. He gives us his body, which was handed over to death for us. He allows us to drink his blood, which was shed for our forgiveness. We hold it in our hand. We taste it. We smell it. We do not come alone to this great feast. Christ comes to us in his true body and blood.
We do not simply just want to go through the motions at this meal. We need to understand what takes place at this very special meal. Jesus gives us a very special gift when we come up to this table. We go away from this feast with our sins forgiven. It is not just the reminder that our sins are forgiven. We receive forgiveness right then and there.
Jesus speaks those very special words for us to recall. This is my body given for you. This is my blood shed for you. Jesus goes to the cross for us. He gives up his body for me. He sheds his blood upon the cross to wash away my sins. We cannot wait to come up to this altar for this food our Lord gives to us to forgive all my sins.
We leave from this feast with peace. The argument we had with our spouse: forgiven! The time we abuse our bodies by drinking too much: forgiven! The little white lie we spoke to save face with our friends: forgiven! All our many sins we bring with us to the feast: forgiven! We leave them at the table washed clean in the blood of our Savior.
The best part of this feast is that we do not need to worry about eating too much. So often we overeat when we get together with family on the holidays. Our belt needs to be loosened a couple of notches. A food coma overtakes us, which we will awake from in an hour or two. Will we ever tire from coming to the Lord’s Table? Will we be filled up with enough forgiveness? This invitation is not just for a onetime event. Christ tells us to come often. When we feel guilty, come! When sin troubles us, come! When we feel powerless, come!
We come to partake in a great mystery. Christ’s true body and blood are present in, with, and under the bread and wine. We receive the forgiveness of sins. We come often. We need that wonderful meal. We need to hear those words given and poured out for you. We come also for the wonderful gift of unity Christ gives to us.
One of the best parts of a meal is the company around the table. Friends and family gather. Laughter rises from jokes being told. We catch up with those there or reminiscence about times gone by. We enjoy a special union with those around us.
A very special union exists as the Lord invites us to his feast. “Because there is one bread, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (I Corinthians 10:17). We not only enjoy the blessings of God coming to us in this sacrament, we also enjoy the blessings of the fellowship of those around us.
Do we often think of this? Are we so entrenched in our own thinking that we forget about those standing with us? Our brothers and sisters in the faith stand right next to us. We look to our right and to our left, and we see that we are not alone. We confess the same faith of those around us. We receive encouragement from our fellow believers, because we are not alone.
We all believe in Jesus, the bread of life. We promise to remain faithful to him no matter what will come. It can be hard, even sometimes lonely in this world. We feel like Satan picks us out from everyone else to tempt us. Look around! We are part of the church militant. We have our brothers and sisters around us.
We come to this Supper to enjoy the unity of one another. We go away refreshed to live our lives to the glory of God. Come to this table to be with your Savior and your fellow believers.
The Lord invites us to a great feast. We run to partake of this meal. We can even smile as we come up to this table. Jesus comes to us in a mysterious way. He gives his body and blood for us. We come expressing our unity with all our fellow believers. The table is all set. Jesus Invites Us to a Feast. Come to partake of the mystery and share a special union! Amen.