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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary
1 Corinthians 11

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 20-24

The Lord's Supper

1 Corinthians 11:20-24

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

Circumstances under which the Supper was inaugurated.

1. Christ knew He would die.

2. After the Passover passed away the Supper came in.

3. The one, Judas, who went out.

4. The singing of the hymn.

5. The final words of comfort and admonition.

1. Christ knew He would die on the Cross. When we come to the Lord's Supper we see Christ as He took the bread and said: "This is My body, which is broken for you." In all of this we know that He knew not alone that He would die, but that He knew also how His body would be "broken" for us.

When we see Christ taking the cup and saying, "This is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins," we realize that Christ not only knew that His Blood was to be shed, but He also knew that His Blood was to be shed in the fulfillment of a Covenant made long since in Heaven.

2. After the Passover was over, the Lord's Supper came in. The Passover was a memorial of the days when the Lord passed over the houses of the Children of Israel. On that night a lamb was slain, and the blood was sprinkled on the side posts and the upper doorpost.

During the centuries, that Passover had been annually kept in anticipation of the hour when the true Passover Lamb, even the Lord, would be slain on Calvary. As Christ sat at the table with His disciples and ate of the Passover Feast, He knew its fullest significance. After the Passover, when He took the bread and the cup and set a new table of a New Covenant, He knew its full significance. Since then the Church has commemorated the Lord's death, till He come.

The Passover has been set aside. It looked forward to Christ's death. The Lord's Supper has come in, it looks backward to Christ's death: The Passover had a time limit, a culminating period; the Lord's Supper also has a time limit "till He come."

3. The one, Judas, who went out. He had taken the Passover with Judas present, for Christ said, "He that dippeth his hand with Me in the dish." It is passing sad, a travesty on humanity, that one ready to betray the Lord should have eaten the Passover.

We fear, however, that there are many today who eat of the Supper and then go out into the paths of unrighteousness and folly to betray Him. The Bible speaks of certain ones who crucify the Son of God afresh and put Him to an open shame. Let us beware lest we prove insincere and unworthy of His grace.

4. The singing of the hymn. The Supper being ended, Christ gave unto the disciples the marvelous message contained in John 14:1-31 , John 15:1-27 , and John 16:1-33 : then He prayed the prayer recorded in John 17:1-26 , and after they had sung a hymn they went out Our Lord, in the singing of this hymn, reminds us of the nightingale which sings in the darkest hour of the night. He sang when the shadows of His crucifixion were gathering heavily over Him.

The sorrows of death were about to grip Him, and yet He sung a hymn.

5. The final words of comfort and admonition. Let us revert to the chapters in John's Gospel. We are all familiar with how Christ said, in chapter 14 "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me." Having spoken these words, He gave them as many as 14 reasons why they should not be troubled. Then He closed with the same words, "Let not your heart be troubled."

Chapter 15 centers in the message concerning the vine and the branches, with the great climactic statement, "That your joy might be full."

Chapter 16 emphasizes the "little while" of the Lord's absence, and the words of encouragement and comfort concerning the Paraclete or Comforter whom the Lord would send to teach, to guide, to strengthen, and to admonish us.

These three chapters, with the Lord's wonderful prayer in chapter 17, close the Lord's final words following the "Supper."

I. THE LORD'S SUPPER A CHURCH ORDINANCE (1 Corinthians 11:18-20 )

1. It is a Church memorial, in distinction to the Jewish memorial.

2. It is distinct from home eating, which is to supply physical hunger and thirst (1 Corinthians 11:21 ).

3. It is to be observed in solemn sacredness (1 Corinthians 11:22 ).

1. It is a Church memorial in distinction to the Jewish memorial. In every message given to the Jews, there is a lesson for the Church of God. However, the Church is not Israel, and the Lord's Supper is not a Jewish feast. The Supper was given to the saints by the Lord Jesus, but certified by the Holy Ghost through Paul, as an observance to be kept by the Church until the Lord's Return.

There are some who want to do away with the Supper, and leave the Church without any memorial whatsoever. With this we cannot agree.

2. It is distinct from home eating which is to supply physical hunger. 1 Corinthians 11:21 says, "In eating every one taketh before other his own supper." 1 Corinthians 11:22 says: "Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?" The Lord's Supper, therefore, is not a family affair. 1 Corinthians 11:18 says: "When ye come together in the church." 1 Corinthians 11:22 says, concerning the eating and drinking of the Lord's Supper as a private meal, "Despise ye the Church of God?"

All of this shows that there is a vast distinction between the daily run of family meals, and the Lord's Supper.

3. It is to be observed in solemn sacredness. When we partake of the Lord's Supper we should do it in the full light of its deeper meaning, and put away from us every suggestion of a feast with its accompanying levity and conversation.

Paul had no praise for the Corinthians because they had turned the memorial of Christ's death into a time of feasting.

The Lord sacredly holds the Supper which He set forth, as an observance in remembrance of Him.

II. THE LORD'S SUPPER A DIVINE DELIVERANCE (1 Corinthians 11:23 )

1. It was given to be observed by the command of the Lord.

2. It was given on the night in which He was betrayed.

3. It was given in perfect foreknowledge of the deeper depths of its meaning.

1. It was given to be observed by the command of the Lord. Paul says in our key verse: "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you." The Supper is not a man made, nor a church ordained affair. It is a solemn and significant deliverance from the Lord. Paul said that the Gospel which he preached he received, not of men, neither was he taught it, but by the Holy Ghost. Now he says, in effect, that the Supper was not after men, neither did he receive it, but from the Lord.

We take it, therefore, that the Supper is just as Divinely inspired and given through Paul as was the Word of God, set forth in his Epistles. Christ had, indeed, said to the disciples, "This do in remembrance of Me." But now that the Apostle Paul had been called as an ambassador to the Gentiles, and to reveal the mystery of the Church which is His Body, the Lord particularly instructs him concerning the Lord's Supper in its relationship to the Church of God.

2. It was given on the night in which He was betrayed. The Lord Himself, on the night in which He was betrayed, took bread. He also took the cup. The Lord's Supper is therefore indissolubly linked to the approach to Calvary.

Our Saviour wanted to tie us on to the Cross, to His own broken body and shed Blood, lest we should drift away from the great basic truth of our redemption.

3. It was given in perfect foreknowledge of the deeper depths of its meaning. Those who ate the bread and drank of the cup in that upper room doubtless did not know, at that time, the deeper significances of the Supper, but Christ knew it. He not only knew, but He told His saints gathered around much of its meaning".

III. THE LORD'S SUPPER INSTITUTED WITH THE GIVING OF THANKS (1 Corinthians 11:24 )

1. The Lord Himself gave thanks for the privilege of dying for us.

2. We should give thanks that in His dying we are fed with the Bread from Heaven.

1. The Lord Himself gave thanks for the privilege of dying for us. Our verse opens with the striking statement, "And when He had given thanks, He brake it." He brake it with His own hands as much as to say, "I am giving Myself as a willing sacrifice; I have power to lay My life down"; and He did lay it down as a ransom for many. He not only showed that He broke His own body, as it were, but He gave thanks for the privilege of so doing.

There is nothing to us more beautiful and more filled with meaning than the fact that Jesus gave thanks for the bread of which He Himself said, "Take, eat: this is My body."

If He had told us to give thanks, it would be easily understood; but when He himself gave thanks, we marvel and say:

It's just like Jesus to roll the clouds away,

It's just like Jesus to keep me day by day,

It's just like Jesus all along the way,

It's just like His great love."

2. We should give thanks that in His dying we are fed with the Bread from Heaven. If He gave thanks, should not we? His broken body means everything to us. His shed Blood means our redemption. What gratitude then should be ours! We are not left to starve, spiritually.

We can almost hear the Master saying before He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, "Send them not away." He did not want to send the multitudes away hungry, neither does He want to send us away hungry. On that memorable day, they ate and were filled. Today we may eat and be satisfied.

Jehovah did not send Israel away hungry of old when they cried for bread, and for meat. He gave them the manna from Heaven, and He gave them the quails. All of these things anticipated that other Bread of which Christ spake at the Supper in the upper room, when He gave thanks and brake it.

IV. THE BROKEN BREAD (1 Corinthians 11:24 )

1. He broke it showing that His death was voluntary.

2. He broke it showing that God made His soul an offering for sin.

3. He broke it in anticipation of the breaking of His heart.

1. He broke it showing that His death was voluntary. There are many today who teach that Christ was a martyr to a holy ideal, that He was slain against His will, and because of the growing antipathy to Him on the part of those who despised and rejected Him.

We would not for one moment take the guilt away from those who nailed Him to the Tree. Peter said of them: "Ye have taken and with wicked hands have crucified and slain." This remains true, yet it is also true that Jesus Christ went as a Lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers, was dumb.

2. He broke it showing that God made His soul an offering for sin. The question, "Who crucified our Lord?" may have various answers.

(1) He was crucified by the Jews because they were the ones who delivered Him to the Romans, and cried out so vehemently that Pilate thought he could do nothing but deliver Christ to death. The Jews also circled the Cross crying out against the Lord Jesus like maddened bulls or dogs.

(2) He was crucified by the Romans, because they were the ones who actually nailed Him to the Tree.

(3) He was crucified by our sins, because if we had never sinned He had never been crucified,

(4) He was crucified by God, because it is written, "Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin." Therefore, we are correct when we say that God made His soul an offering for sin.

3. He broke it in anticipation of the breaking of His heart. Christ actually died from the rupture of His heart vessels. The nails in His feet and in His hands would have killed Him had He hung there long enough. They did not kill Him, however. It was the burden of our sins, and the anguish of the cup He drank, which slew Him: and He knew it beforehand.

V. THE SOLEMN REMEMBRANCE (1 Corinthians 11:24 )

1. A memorial of spiritual strength through eating the Bread that came down from Heaven.

2. A memorial of devout gratitude on the part of saints.

3. A memorial that shows human responsibility "Take, eat."

1. A memorial of spiritual strength through eating the Bread that came down from Heaven. We eat our daily bread, around our family board, for sustenance for the physical body, Around the Lord's Table we gather to eat the bread in token of the fact that Christ is the Sustenance of our spiritual being.

We remember how it was written: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." It is also written that Job desired the words of His mouth, as more necessary than his daily food. Another Scripture tells us of the "milk of the Word," and again we read of the "strong meat" of the Word.

We who must meet the problems of life with its testings and service, need strength. Therefore, we must remember that Christ is not only the Giver of our life, but also its Sustainer.

2. A memorial of devout gratitude on the part of saints. We, too, should give thank even as He did. Do we not appreciate and give thanks for the food we eat, as we take our daily meals? How much more then should we appreciate the Heavenly Manna. If we give thanks at one table, should we not at the other?

All gifts come down from above, from the Father of lights. For these gifts, praise is comely. The greatest Gift, however, that came down from above is the Lord Jesus Christ.

He not only feeds us, and clothes us, and satisfies the longings of our heart with everything temporal, but He also blesses us with all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places. When, therefore, we come together in one place to eat the Lord's Supper, let us render heartfelt thanks.

3. A memorial that shows human responsibility. Here is where our responsibility comes in we should "Take, eat." The bounteous supply of spiritual blessings must be appropriated. They are ours, but they are not to be forced upon us. We must go up to possess our possessions.

It is written: "Eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness."

VI. THE CUP OF REMEMBRANCE (1 Corinthians 11:25 )

1. The remembrance of the New Covenant in His Blood.

2. The remembrance of salvation by faith in His sacrificial Blood.

3. The remembrance circumscribed by, "The Lord's death till He come."

1. The remembrance of the New Covenant in His Blood. The New Covenant in His Blood how the words ring out. A covenant not of types, nor of figures of the true, but a Covenant sealed in the fulfillment of all those types in which the First Covenant was written.

Now we can say: "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own Blood He entered in once into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." Christ Himself is the Mediator of the New Covenant by means of His death. The First Covenant was not dedicated without blood, but that blood, first offered, was offered from year to year in token of a promised redemption.

The high priest of old entered into the Holy of holies once a year; but Christ has entered into Heaven itself, but not without Blood.

2. The remembrance of salvation by faith in His sacrificial Blood. Christ gave the cup to the disciples saying, "This do in remembrance of Me." Afterward He said: "As often as ye * * drink this cup, ye do shew." All of this is filled with significance. In the Passover, the lamb had to be taken and slain. That, however, was not enough. Each home, through the head of the house, had to take the hyssop, dip it in the blood, and sprinkle it on the upper doorpost and the side posts. So, also, must we take the cup and drink of it. It is not the death of Christ which saves us, nor His shed Blood that washes us. It is the application by faith of that death and Blood to our hearts and lives that saves. If we believe not, receive not, take not, our sin remaineth.

3. The remembrance circumscribed by, "The Lord's Death till He come." In what sense can we show the Lord's death till He come, apart from eating and drinking at the Lord's Table until He come? To our mind there is a definite, Divine command beneath the statement that the Lord's Supper should be a remembrance of His death until He come.

VII. THE DIGNITY OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST FOREWARNS THE SAINT OF DRINKING UNWORTHILY (1 Corinthians 11:27-34 )

1. Self-examination as to one's faith and conduct should precede the drinking of the cup (1 Corinthians 11:27-29 ).

2. Failure to discern the Lord's body bringeth condemnation, sickness and sometimes, death (1 Corinthians 11:30-31 ).

3. The Lord's Supper rightly conducted creates Christian courtesy and fellowship (1 Corinthians 11:33 ).

1. Self-examination as to one's faith and conduct should precede the drinking of the cup. Let us examine ourselves and so let us eat of that bread. We grant that to "drink un-worthily" does designate the manner in which the cup is taken or the bread is eaten. There is more in it than this, however.

When the Children of Israel (Isaiah 1:1-31 ) lost the deeper meaning and the real intent of their sacrificial offerings, the Lord became wearied with their sacrifices. It is very vital for us, in eating and drinking at the Lord's Table, that we keep in mind the real meanings of the bread and the cup.

Not only so, we must live a life that shows that our faith is genuine, and our trust is true. Thus, in Isaiah 1:1-31 , the Lord demands more than an understanding of the significance of the sacrifice. He cried out: "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes." This is just as vital in the Lord's Table, as it was in the observance of the Jewish sacrifices.

2. Failure to discern the Lord's body bringeth condemnation, sickness and death. Because of the laxity in living, and the unconcern of the spiritual meaning of the supper, on the part of many, they become sickly and many die. Let us beware then lest we fail to discern the Lord's body, and eat and drink condemnation to ourselves.

3. The Lord's Supper rightly conducted creates Christian courtesy and fellowship. 1 Corinthians 11:33 tells us "When ye come together to eat, tarry one for another." We want to have courtesy toward all the brethren. Christ did not die for any of us alone; He died for all saints. For this cause we must tarry one for another until we come together. The Lord's Supper is not to be eaten in our own homes, but when we meet as a Church. It is a question of the fellowship of the one Body in the one Lord.

AN ILLUSTRATION

The power of the testimony of the Christian, whether he is showing forth the Lord's death at the Lord's Table, or in a word of testimony, is seen in this simple incident in the life of Charles H. Spurgeon:

"C. H. Spurgeon was asked by the directors of the Crystal Palace in London to test the acoustic properties of the vast space of the central transept. He went to the Palace early one morning taking with him two or three friends, who stationed themselves in different parts of the building, to tell if his voice could be heard there. He stood and began, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.' Years afterward, Spurgeon's brother went to see a dying man in Croydon who said to him: 'I am a painter by trade. I used to be a very irreligious man. until one morning, early, when I was painting inside the roof of the Crystal Palace, not supposing that anyone was in the building, I was startled by hearing a voice ringing out in clear tones: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." The words came home to me with such power of conviction that they led me to seek and find in Jesus Christ the Saviour in whom I have believed, and whom I have tried to serve ever since that day. I was afterwards told that it was your brother's voice I heard. Please tell him this from me.'"

 


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Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:4". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/1-corinthians-11.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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