The Lord's Supper-Table
"Christ, our Passover,
was sacrificed for us,"
1 Corinthians 5'7.
I speak as to wise men;
judge for yourselves what I say,"
1 Corinthians 10'15.
Paul could speak plainly to the Saints at Corinth. After all, he did have a sincere love for them (2 Corinthians 11'11).
And as Luke points out he had "continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them," Acts 18'11.
Foremost in his teaching would have been that the Jesus who the Corinthians had received is the One who had fulfilled the Old Covenant Passover - the Believers' Lamb of God, our Passover.
Paul is concerned about a number of things. One of them is about keeping the Lord's Supper-Table in sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5'8).
Now he found himself having to speak sternly to them. Even so, he still addresses them "as to wise men".
Keeping the Passover Feast is central to New Covenant Kingdom teaching so it's essential to have some basic understanding.
For that it's necessary to look at two historic events: Israel's Passover and Our Passover.
1. ISRAEL'S PASSOVER
This awe-inspiring event which became celebrated as The Feast of Passover, took place towards the end of the time of Israel's sojourn in Egypt.
They were there in the first place because the Pharaoh at the time honoured them with residence. (See Genesis 47'27 onwards.)
But at this stage a new Pharaoh had ascended the throne and he saw them differently. He brought Israel into slavery.
Because of the relentless cruelty he ordered to be inflicted on them they desperately needed deliverance so they called out to God.
He called Moses to confront the Pharaoh and lead His People out of Egypt.
God said to Moses:
"... you shall say to him, ‘The Lord God of the Hebrews has sent me to you, saying, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness'," Exodus 7'16.
The Pharaoh denied Moses on ten occasions. Each denial resulted in a plague coming upon the country. His final denial resulted in the most severe plague: The Passover.
Here's what Moses was to tell Israel that would ensure their safety:
"Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a house.
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.
And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.
Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire - its head with its legs and its entrails.
You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire.
And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord's Passover.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.
Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance'," Exodus 12'3,5-14.
Israel's Passover foreshadowed and typified our Passover. For them it was "a lamb for a house".
John made the New Covenant difference very plain. Immediately before immersing Him in water he "... saw Jesus coming toward him" and declared:
"Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," John 1'29.
His listeners knew about their Passover. But John was telling them (and the world) that by the sacrifice of this man their sins would be forgiven, totally.
He was saying, that as far as being judged for their sins, God would pass over each person who put their trust in this Lamb - and they would not come into judgement.
He was declaring something that most of them had never heard before - not even thought of.
Later Jesus Himself would say:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life," John 5'24.
2. OUR PASSOVER
The second awe-inspiring historical event is all about a lifetime. And especially, the culmination of the earthly lifetime of Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus walked the land of Israel for His final three or so years doing the work the Father had sent Him to do.
And just as the Old Covenant lamb had to be inspected for purity, for Jesus the Lamb of God, this was His time of examination.
When that was almost over He and His Disciples kept their last Old Covenant Feast of Passover, but with a difference.
He was about to transform it by fulfilling it and therefore replacing it. This became The Lord's Supper:
"He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying,
'This is My body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of Me.'
"Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying,
'This cup is the new covenant in My blood,
which is shed for you'",
The Believers who would later be called a "holy nation" (1 Peter 2'9) would celebrate it according to His New Covenant Kingdom of God.
Jesus' sacrifice was once for all. Now every and any one in the whole world who will believe will be "passed over" on the day of judgement.
The culmination of Jesus' life is His sacrifice for all who will believe: It's Our Sacrifice, and the foundation of the New Covenant Kingdom of God.
KEEP THE FEAST RIGHTLY
"... let us keep the feast ... with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth," 1 Corinthians 5'8. Apparently, the Lord's Supper-Table was not being observed this way.
If Believers are going to keep the feast at all only one thing motivates them. It is this: "... Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us," 1 Corinthians 5'7.
Nevertheless, 1 Corinthians chapter 10 refers to ungodly thinking and behaviour in the keeping of this feast. Sadly, in chapter 11 there's more.
It seems they had lost their realisation of being in the presence of God. Consequently, instead of being godly they were being ungodly.
The Elders-Overseers had allowed slackness to set in. They should have been ministering words of teaching, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness so that the feast would be kept in sincerity and truth.
The time had come for God's rebukes, warnings and reminders. All for their own good:
"Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse.
For first of all, when you come together as Christ's Called-Out People, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it.
For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.
Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.
For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.
What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?
Or do you despise the Called-Out Ones of God and shame those who have nothing?
What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this?
I do not praise you," 1 Corinthians 11'17-22.
Strong, straight words, indeed!
THE WORD FROM THE LORD
Right from the beginning of Paul's spiritual life the Lord had spoken to him "... by the abundance of the revelations ..." (2 Corinthians 12'7).
At an earlier time Jesus had given him instructions to deliver to these Corinthian Believers regarding the keeping of the Lord's Supper, which he had done.
Now he is having to do it again - and more. He reminds them:
"I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;
and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said,
'Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'
In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying,
'This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.'
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.
But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment," 1 Corinthians 11'23-34.
Such warning words as "unworthy", "judgment", "not discerning", "weak", "sickly", "sleep", "chastened", "condemned" surely indicate a sad, not to say dangerous, situation. These are words that imply considerable consequences.
These Believers should have been keeping this holy Feast according to the word of Christ "in sincerity" and "in truth".
How often should the Lord's Supper be kept? This is a common question. But it seems that God has issued no "schedule" for it.
The point is that this Feast is about remembering. It is not a religious rite or a superstition to be "kept" in order to be saved or to obtain some blessing or to avoid something bad. And it's not to become a routine!
The word says:
"For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes," says 1 Corinthians 11'26.
So it's unnecessary for it to be included in every gathering. After all, keeping it does not to save anyone. Seemingly, the decision as to date and time is the responsibility of the Elders.
WHO CAN PARTAKE?
The relevant scriptures say that those who partake of the Lord's Supper-Table should know and understand what it is they are doing.
This is a feast of thanksgiving and worshipful gratefulness. It involves a self-examination (personal spiritual check-up) before partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine in the manner that the Lord initiated.
Adults who have received Christ, who involve themselves in His word, have been immersed in water and have foundational understandings should qualify to partake. (For more see Your Kingdom Foundation on the Menu).
But for those who desire to be first-timers partakers some preparation is likely to be required.
Who Can Partake? Outside of this Kingdom Inheritance context answers vary according to the doctrines and criteria of a denomination.
They range from not keeping the Lord's Supper at all to having "Communion", "Eucharist", "Mass" or a version of it. In addition, some have no criteria at all and include children as part of a loosely-defined ceremony.
These are carried out in sincerity. Nevertheless, they seem not to be done "in truth".
“... the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth,” John 4'23-24.
All that said, in order to honour the Lord's Feast according to His will, it is necessary for a Believer to be of age.
Being of age is when a Believer is developed enough to possesses the New Covenant Kingdom understandings that are necessary before participating in the Lord's Supper (and Immersion in Water too).
BEING OF AGE
As has been said, being of age is important in regard to a person's readiness to partake in the Lord's Supper (and Immersion in Water).
However, both of these call for understanding, and being able to do, what it is the word of Christ is saying. Paul talks about a time "When I became a man ..," 1 Corinthians 13'11.
Most adults in western societies have heard the phrase coming "of age".
It is supposed to describe the time when children can be held accountable to society for their own words and actions (instead of their parents being held responsible).
In the various "Christianities" it's usually called "the age of accountability". This is celebrated in a ceremony when a child reaches a certain age having learned basic denominational doctrines.
But, from the believing Parents' point of view, there is a factor that must be acknowledged in this.
Due to the godly family environment and encountering God's word among Believers plus the working of the Holy Spirit, faith may be present in a child. And that's a marvellous thing.
However, the Bible refers to being "of age"; having the ability to heed God's word and to do His will. Willing to act, take responsility and speak for themselves.
The Lord has provided some "of age" examples:
The young Mary has to be the first. Her faith, worship and understanding was acknowledged by the angel's greeting: "Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you," Luke 1'28.
He added: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God," Luke 1'30.
How did she find favour with God? Like her famous forebear, Abraham, she believed God's word. And it was accounted to her for righteousness, as it was him!
She was at the stage, personally and spiritually, to accept this commission and face the challenges of her immediate future, Luke 1'26-39.
Showing her trust in God she responded to the angel's statement:
"Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word".
Mary was "of age" indeed!
A Jewish couple made it very clear that their son was of age! Almost all of John chapter nine is taken up with the incident that caused them to speak out.
They were being called on by Pharisees to take parental responsibility for what he said and did after Jesus had healed him of blindness. But they refused.
They were not willing to take the consequences for the strong way their son was rebutting the Pharisees' threatening questions.
They said: "He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself"! Their son spoke for himself confidently and clearly, refusing to back down. His conduct revealed that he was of age!
Timothy is another example. Paul describes him as "a certain disciple" and the son of a believing Jewish woman and unbelieving Greek father and was well spoken of.
At one stage Paul called on him to be circumcised because of the Jews in that region who knew that his father was Greek (Acts 16'-1). Timothy understood Paul's concern and was willing and yielded himself to it.
He had known the Scriptures from childhood which, Paul said, "... are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus," 2 Timothy 3'15.
Later, as a believing young man, he was called to be an example to all:
"Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity," 1 Timothy 4'12.
And about Moses the Word says:
"By faith Moses, when he became of age
refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God
than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,
esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt;
for he looked to the reward.
By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king;
for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible," Hebrews 11'24-27.
Although Moses may have been somewhat older than Mary or the healed man or Timothy when he became of age the basics are the same.
Would-be participant's disposition should observed as to their godly understandings, behaviour and relationships.
What is their level of faith? Have they experienced the Your Kingdom Foundation teachings (refer article on Menu) of Hebrews 6'1-3?
Do they possess clear understandings of the truths of Our Passover?
Do they have the mistaken ideas about the effect of their participation (e.g. saving them)?
Are they desiring this for the right reasons or do they feel compelled to conform?
Are participating of their own free will and for scriptural reasons?
Are they, in fact, "of age" and able to honour the truths of this feast?
TO THE GLORY OF GOD
When the Spirit came the reality of the Kingdom of God came. From that day on many of the words of Christ also became realities.
Like His words about the Lord's Supper-Table:
“... I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom,” Matthew 26'29, also Mark 14'25, Luke 22'18.
Christ's Passover Feast is godly, holy and precious:
"I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say.
The cup of blessing which we bless,
is it not the fellowship of the blood of Christ?
The bread which we break,
is it not the fellowship of the body of Christ?
For we, though many, are one bread and one body;
for we all partake of that one bread,"
1 Corinthians 10'15-17.
"... whether you eat or drink,
or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God,"
1 Corinthians 10'31.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for this wonderful feast of your love and power. And for the privilege of being able to keep it in sincerity and in truth.
In Jesus' name. Amen.