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 "
"Christ, our Passover,
was sacrificed for us,"
1 Corinthians 5'7.
When he corrected the Saints at Corinth about their misbehaviour around the Lord's Supper, Paul said: "I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say,"1 Corinthians 10'15.
These seem unusual words seeing as he had to correct them. But he knew them. And he had spent "a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them," as Luke points out in Acts 18'11.
Sure, he had spoken very straightly but they knew him, and his sincere love for them (2 Corinthians 11'11).
His teaching would have been about how the Old and New Covenants relate and compare. All built on the truth that the saviour who they had received fulfilled the Old Covenant Passover.
And now that same saviour is the Believers' Lamb of God. He is our Passover!
But in this part of his letter Paul is concerned about them keeping the Lord's Supper-Table unacceptably:
"... indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth," 1 Corinthians 5'7-8.
Keeping the Lord's Supper-Table is central to New Covenant Kingdom life. And being familiar with how the Old Covenant Passover foreshadows it deepens its meaning.
The next thing then is to look at the two events as they are given to us in the Bible: Israel's Passover and Our Passover.
THE EXODUS 12 PASSOVER
The history of The Passover is that Israel were in Egypt enduring cruel slavery. They were there because of famine and had gone to buy food.
In the process they had found favour with the Pharaoh because of Joseph, who was the son of Jacob, Israel's patriarch.
Some years earlier Joseph, as a slave in Egypt, had prophesied a severe famine, had led the preparations to suessfully cope with it. Consequently, the Pharaoh honoured Israel and allowed them to stay (Genesis 47'27 onwards).
They prospered. But a later Pharaoh saw them as a national threat and made them slaves.
Relentless cruelty was inflicted on them and they were desperate for deliverance. They called out to God and He raised up Moses to approach the Pharoah on their behalf:
"... 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 refused Moses on ten occasions. Each denial resulted in a plague coming upon the country. The final one would result in The Passover and Israel's freedom.
The Lord gave Moses these instructions:
"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.
"The Lord's Passover". Jews still celebrate it as part of their Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days annually, usually in April.
It's all about deliverance from slavery to freedom. Their's was physical, ours was spiritual.
The Old Covenant Passover lamb was sacrificed for a nation. The New Covenant Passover to be radically different. John clarified the difference when he declared:
"Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," John 1'29.
It was when the time came for Jesus to present Himself to be immersed in water. John "... saw Jesus coming toward him" and he responded.
John's listeners knew about The Passover. However, he was telling them that this "Lamb of God" would totally redefine it.
He was saying the God would pass over every person who looked to the shed blood of this Lamb to "take away" their sins.
Later Jesus Himself said later:
“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.
To be found to be "without blemish" the Old Covenant lamb had to be examined. The requirement on Jesus the Lamb of God would be greater.
Towards the end of His three years of being examined He and His Disciples kept the last Old Covenant Feast of Passover differently.
He fulfilled it, transformed it and replaced it. It's "Our Passover", our "Lord's Supper", our "Lord's Table":
"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'",
One common question about the Lord's Supper is, how often should it be kept? The short answer is in the phase "as often as". No doubt the decision as to when is the responsibility of the Elders.
After all, it's not a religious ritual. Nor is it to be kept routinely in order to be saved, or as some sort of sacred duty.
IN SINCERITY AND TRUTH
Whenever it is kept, a New Covenant Kingdom Passover is a serious, joyous and solemn remembrance all at the same time.
Paul exhorts Believers: "... let us keep the feast ... with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth," 1 Corinthians 5'8.
Apparently, these Corinthian Believers were not and that's unacceptable to God.
1 Corinthians 10 and 11 say there was ungodly thinking and behaviour when it came to their eating and drinking.
They seem to have forgotten what remembering Jesus was about. Consequently, they were being ungodly.
The motivation for keeping this feast should arise from remembering Jesus as "... Christ, our Passover" who was "... sacrificed for us," 1 Corinthians 5'7.
The Elders-Overseers had allowed slackness to set in. Words of teaching, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness from them may have lead to the feast being kept in sincerity and truth.
So Paul had to be stern:
"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 Saints 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, edifying words.
This New Covenant Kingdom Passover is to be an act of righteousness. Romans 14'17-18 says:
"... for the kingdom of God is ... righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men" .
What the Corinthians were doing was definitely not acceptable. And certainly they were not serving Christ.
But although they needed correcting, they were still adults who had received Christ and had learnt and experienced the foundational teachings. (See Your Kingdom Foundation on the Menu).
Above all else, the Lord's Supper Passover is worship. Listen to this:
“... 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.
That is Jesus speaking.
EXAMINE, JUDGE, EAT, DRINK
At an earlier time Jesus had given Paul instructions to deliver to the Corinthians for the purpose of establishing His New Covenant Kingdom Passover. He had done that.
Now he is having to do it again. 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.
Let's remind ourselves. Participants are called to examine themselves, judge themselves and deal with that first. Then eat the bread and drink the fruit of the vine.
Remembrance then becomes an opportunity for thanksgiving and grateful worship.
There are some words that stand out in 1 Corinthians 11'23-34 that indicate a very sad, situation and portray dangerous consequences.
They include "unworthy", "judgment", "not discerning", "weak", "sickly", "sleep", "chastened", "condemned"
Could it be that by heeding these words and keeping the Lord's Supper acceptably "in sincerity" and "in truth" the opposite would apply?
Would a Believer become "worthy", "unjudged", "discerning", "strong", "healthy", "alert", "disciplined", "uncondemned" and still very much alive?
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 responsibility and speak for themselves.
The Lord has provided some "of age" examples:
Mary, Jesus' mother, 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? Like her famous forebear, Abraham, she believed what God said. 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.
The Lord's Disciples also were of age. They left their families' authority when they answered Christ's call to serve Him.
"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.
TO THE GLORY OF GOD
When the Spirit came He brought the reality of the Kingdom of God with Him and fulfilling these words of Christ:
"He said to them, 'With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;
for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God'.
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, 'Take this and divide it among yourselves;
for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes'.
And 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'," Luke 22'15-20.
“... 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.
Christ's Passover Feast is precious and godly. And God requires His People to remember Jesus in holiness:
"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.