Sermon preached on Sunday, September 16, 2012 at Garden Valley Chapel during our morning worship service based on 1 Corinthians 11:23c-24.
Turn in your Bible, if you will, to the eleventh chapter of the book of 1 Corinthians - 1 Corinthians eleven where we continue our study on the Lord´s Table.
It was Edward Reynolds (1593-1676 - one of pastors who was chosen for Assembly of Divines at Westminster) who noted in his work titled, "Meditations on the Holy Sacrament of the Lord´s Last Supper" the following concerning the bread and wine of our Lord´s Table:
"It neither stood with the outward poverty of Christ, nor with the benefit of the church, to institute such sumptuous [i.e. splendid and expensive-looking] and gaudy elements, as might possess too much the sense of the beholder, and too little resemble the quality of the Saviour. And therefore He chose His sacraments rather for the fitness, than the beauty of them; as respecting more the end, than the splendor or riches, of His Table; and intended rather to manifest His divine power in altering poor elements into a precious use, than to exhibit any carnal pomp, in such delicious fare, as did not agree with the spiritualness of His kingdom."
God in His wisdom has chosen such "poor elements," common elements such as bread and wine as the elements used in His holy sacrament.
He has chosen to feed "His Daniels rather with pulse [vegetables], than with all the dainties on the king´s table" (Reynolds).
It is no surprise that God has chosen the "foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong" (1 Cor 1:27).
But He does not limit foolish things and weak things to men and women who are foolish, week, and common so as to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, but God in Christ has chosen the most basic of elements to signify the "spiritualness of His kingdom" - using what is common to be what is most sacred, both the bread and wine.
My beloved, when we come to the Lord´s Table, we partake of God´s wisdom. We partake of His poor elements which He has made into the most precious of elements.
But these elements are precious only to believers.
To the well-fed American, bread is the most common item. You find a whole aisle devoted to bread at the grocery store. The unbeliever thinks not on God´s gift of provision to give him such food.
It is no wonder that Thomas Watson wrote the following -
"If all be a gift, see the odious ingratitude of men who sin against their giver! God feeds them, and they fight against him; he gives them bread, and they give him affronts. How unworthy is this! Should we not cry shame of him who had a friend always feeding him with money, and yet he should betray and injure him? Thus ungratefully do sinners deal with God; they not only forget his mercies, but abuse them. "When I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery" (Jer. 5:7). Oh, how horrid is it to sin against a bountiful God!-to strike the hands that relieve us!"
Wine, on the other hand, has been diminished to be associated with the drunkard in our culture. Not only in our culture but it was so at the time of Solomon when He writes to his son in Proverbs 23:29ff pleading with him, "Give me your heart, my son" (v. 26) warning his son not to be with "heavy drinkers of wine or with gluttonous eaters of meat" (v. 20) .
He writes beginning with v. 29 -
29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?
30 Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine.
31 Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly;
32 At the last it bites like a serpent And stings like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange things And your mind will utter perverse things.
34 And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast.
35 "They struck me, but I did not become ill; They beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink."
The drunkard looks upon wine, sees in wine something to be desired, but all along it is providing for him a false security. All he wants is to deaden the senses. He forsakes what wine is meant to be, as described in the pages of Scripture.
For the psalmist declares in Psalm 104:14-15 -
14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
15 And wine which makes man´s heart glad, So that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man´s heart.
Wine makes man´s heart glad. It was never meant to deaden the senses but to give joy. Food or bread on the other hand is used to sustain your heart, strengthen you knowing that it is God who provides such good gifts.
In one word, "life." He causes life by providing these elements. As Jonathan Edwards states, "We have life by our meat and drink."
Jews reciting the Haggadah (Order of the Seder Service) would begin with a doxology:
"Blessed art Thou, O Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the produce of the vine. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who has chosen us from all peoples...."
*Both bread and wine were the chief provisions of a banquet. God in effect says to you His child as Spurgeon points out -
"You are no longer feeding the swine, but resting at the Father´s table: the oxen and the fatlings are killed, and you are actually at the supper. Believe this, and act accordingly."
My beloved, we must come to the Lord´s Table expecting and admiring the more "abundant manifestation of His greatness and wisdom" in giving us both the bread and wine at His Table.
As the Reverend Reynolds says, "undervalue not the bread and wine in this holy Sacrament."
To that end I would like for us to consider the meaning and significance of these two elements the Lord has given to us in Communion.
1. The Bread of the Lord´s Table (v. 24)
2. The Cup of the Lord´s Table (v. 25)