When you go to a restaurant, you need to know:
- Why you’re there
- Who you’re going to be with
When it comes to the Lord’s Table, you need to know the same two things:
- You need to know why you’ve come to His Table
- You need to know who you’re going to be there with. How many are in your party?
The very word Communion implies being with someone.
The word means:
- A having in common
- A partnership
- A fellowship recognized and enjoyed
- The share which one has in anything
Communion is related to the words common and communication.
We must see that having communion is more than eating a little piece of bread and drinking a little cup of juice.
A person can go through the external motions without experiencing the inward sense of fellowship and partnership that this ordinance was meant to express.
We should come to this table and partake of these elements because Jesus said we should (1 Corinthians 11:25-26).
We should maintain a continual awareness of God’s presence in our life, but we should come to this table periodically as a continuation of our on-going fellowship, to remind ourselves of and to celebrate the very foundation of our relationship and fellowship with Him: the broken body and shed blood of the Lord Jesus.
When we look at the first question: “Why are we here? Why are we going to be partaking of these elements?” We can answer: We do something externally because it expresses an inward reality!
That inward reality is:
- A remembrance of Christ’s death in the past
- An awareness of His presence in our lives now
- An anticipation of His coming again!
But what about the second question: “How many people are there in your party? Who’s going to be with you?”
1. Communion always involves a “table for two.”
You’ve heard the phrase, "Two’s company; three’s a crowd."
Even if there are three thousand other people in the same auditorium, communion can and always should be a deeply personal time.
It can be a time when you focus on the company you keep with the Lord Jesus.
- Jesus died for you personally
- Jesus shed his blood for you personally
- You’ve been forgiven personally
- You’ve been made a child of God personally
- His Spirit has been sent to dwell in you personally
- Jesus’ body was broken for you personally
- His healing and restoring power is available to you personally.
1 Corinthians 11:23-24, 27-30
Note these three things:
- You must know that His body was broken for you.
- You must examine yourself.
- You must discern the Lord’s body.
Some people read this and begin to get under all kinds of condemnation. "I’m so unworthy. I missed it this past week. I don’t deserve to take communion." Having sinned does not disqualify a person from taking communion. If it did, none would qualify. This table is not for perfect people!
"If the table of Christ were only for perfect people none might ever approach it. The way is never closed to the repentant sinner. To the man who loves God and his fellow men the way is very open, and his sins, though they be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow." (William Barclay)
Examining yourself is certainly not the same as condemning yourself.
- in the light of God’s love and mercy
- in the light of His shed blood
- in the light of His word
If you see an area where you need to make an adjustment, make it. But know that God is for you, not against you.
He wants to help you overcome, not condemn you, for having fallen short!
What about understanding that Jesus’ body was broken for you and discerning the Lord’s body? Isaiah 53:4-5; Matthew 8:16-17; 1 Peter 2:24
This is all part of discerning the Lord’s body—discerning and understanding what Jesus accomplished when He was afflicted for us. We’ve been talking about the fact that communion is a time when you and God can fellowship personally. It is a "Table for Two."
But we must also establish another fact that has to do with "discerning the Lord’s body", or this message would be very incomplete. This table is not exclusively a Table for Two.
2. Communion also always involves “a table for all.”
A table for all — imagine a great banqueting table with room for many — everyone who responds to the invitation is accepted — no one is turned away — there is plenty for everyone.
There is also a certain unity that is established by our partaking together, not only of these elements, but of everything pertaining to the Lord Jesus Christ — our common inheritance. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17.
The Message Version reads:
Because there is one loaf, our many-ness becomes one-ness – Christ doesn’t become fragmented in us. Rather, we become unified in Him. We don’t reduce Christ to what we are; he raises us to what he is.
We need to understand what Jesus did for us in His own body. We must also discern, or recognise the Body of Christ—the Church. We must recognise the Universal Church that is comprised of every truly born-again person on earth and in heaven.
This is not…
- A Charismatic Table
- A Pentecostal Table
- A Protestant Table
- A Methodist Table
- A Baptist Table
- A Presbyterian or a Lutheran Table
This is the Lord’s Table, and everyone who belongs to him, regardless of other labels that may be ascribed, has a right to partake here. We have equal access. This is an equal opportunity table. Revelation 5:9; 1 Corinthians 12:27.
As Paul described the Corinthians conduct in their worship, he was very honest about the fact that they were not in unity and they were not walking in love toward each other. 1 Corinthians 11:17
Paul went on to describe a situation in the Corinthian church of strife and division that even affected the way the believers approached the Lord’s Table.
If you are going to enjoy communion as a "Table for Two" (you and Jesus), you must also make sure you are enjoying it as a "Table for All."
A person will never fully enjoy his or her relationship with God and receive all of the blessings of God if that person is harbouring…
- a critical nature
- a rebellious attitude
Our attitude and our actions toward others has much to do with what we receive from God. Job 42:10; Matthew 5:23-24; James 5:16; 1 Peter 3:7
In just a few moments, the elements are going to be distributed, and you will receive bread and a cup
Because that bread represents the Body of Christ, you will handle it and treat it respectfully. You would be grieved if I took this bread and threw it on the ground or stepped on it, because of what it represents.
But that bread only represents the Body of Christ. If you treat a symbol of the Body of Christ respectfully, how respectfully should you treat the actual Body of Christ? The person sitting to your left and right is the Body of Christ – they are members individually. They may be the little toe, but they’re still part of the Body of Christ. If you step on my little toe, you’ve hurt me. Matthew 25:40.
The bottom line is this: You can’t honour a piece of bread while dishonouring and mistreating brothers and sisters in the Lord — if you do this, you are certainly not "discerning the Lord’s body." This is where the Corinthians missed it—in taking communion they were claiming to be honouring the Lord’s body, but their careless and selfish behaviour was actually dishonouring the Body of Christ.
You need to know why you’ve come, and you need to know how many are in your party.
It is a table for two.
It is a place where you and Jesus can fellowship together in remembrance of all that Jesus has done for you.
It is a place where you can celebrate all of the benefits provided for you by Jesus’ shed blood and broken body.
It is also a table for all.
It is a place where all natural barriers cease to exist.
It is a place where we recognise, honour, and respect all others who are also part of the Body of Christ.
It is a place where we acknowledge and give thanks to God for what Jesus has done for us all through the Lord Jesus Christ.