The loss of the family meal is one of the often heard complaints about the decline of family life. “Experts” on family life and raising children in the media frequently speak about the importance of shared routines, time to listen to each other and share each other’s daily news. Bonding over a meal extends beyond the immediate family it is a way to get to know friends, meet new people and grow in mutual understanding. Meal times in Jesus’ ministry were very important times. Around the table barriers can be broken down, love shown and loneliness overcome.
Paul needed to address abuse of the Lord’s supper in the Corinthian church where the meal Jesus inaugurated had become a time that revealed that lives and attitudes had not changed to show the work of the gospel in their life. Christians were behaving as they had behaved before they committed their lives to Christ. The new life of the Spirit was not evident. They were breaking the sanctity of the new covenant Jesus had made between God and his followers. Divisions rather than unity was occurring based on wealth and status. Some were getting drunk, others were being greedy and finishing the food whilst those who were poor and hungry were being missed out. Some did not wait for others to ensure a fair distribution of food. In general their conduct was bringing shame on the name of Christ. Their conduct did not differ much from a pagan orgy.
Paul issued the instruction, ‘everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink of the cup.’ 1 Corinthians 11.28 Not doing so and repenting of their sin, failing to put right grievances between themselves and other members of the fellowship meant they were, ‘sinning against the body and blood of the Lord’ 1 Corinthians 11.27 furthermore they were bringing, ‘judgement on themselves.’ 1 Corinthians 11.29
Jesus instituted what we call Holy Communion at the Passover supper on the evening of the day we now call Maundy Thursday as a way for his family to mark, remember and declare the new covenant between God and all who trust in Jesus. It was a covenant of forgiveness Mathew 26.28 and reconciliation made once and for all who believe in him, through the blood and death of Jesus. It brought to an end the Old Testament sacrifices. It is an everlasting covenant. It is a covenant of hope even though it remembers his suffering because it looks forward to the time when Jesus will share fellowship with his new family in heaven.
By breaking his body Jesus has created a new body of people to be sons and daughters of God by adoption and new birth. By participating in this meal of remembrance we are challenged about the extent to which we are a unified family where no divisions exist and all are valued equally and celebrated. We are also challenged as to how the church through its daily conduct and relationships declares the Lord’s death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11.26
Are we obedient to Jesus and regularly take part in the family meal Jesus founded?
Do we prepare ourselves by repenting of our sin and putting right harm we may have caused before we join the fellowship for the meal?
How do we seek to encourage each other in our growth in faith and walk with Jesus?
For The Cross – Brian & Jenn Johnson (Thank you Kenny for your third and last choice.)