Works of Piety: Holy Communion
Luke 22:14-20 February 28, 2010
God works in many common ways. Of course we can see the work of God in the sunshine glistening on the snow. We can see God’s work in the birth of a newborn. One of the most common ways to see God working is in worship services, especially during communion!
What is God doing during Communion? His grace is helping is many ways. These include convicting of sin, convincing us that we are forgiven, connecting us with the rest of the Body of Christ, and changing hearts towards himself.
We take of Holy Communion to get closer to God. We participate in Holy Communion to make ourselves available for God and His work. We even partake of Holy Communion to be reminded that other people need Jesus as much as we do!
We would not take Holy Communion unless Jesus had given us the command to do this in remembrance of him. Therefore, we are to take Holy Communion.
But how often should we eat the bread and drink the cup? That is the funny thing about commands, sometimes the action has to be repeated. Even the words in our passage and the Gospel parallels are present tense. Therefore, it looks like take Holy Communion in the present.
A. Background – Passover
1. Escape from Egypt
2. 4 cups – 2 before and 2 after the meal
3. Blood of the lamb on the doorpost
4. Unleavened bread – no time to for yeast to make it rise
5. This is where our service of Holy Communion comes from. We don’t repeat the words used during the Jewish Passover meal. But we do remember that Jesus told us that the wine/juice is now his blood and the bread is his body. Who is with us as eat the bread and drink the cup?
B. Jesus takes his place (v. 14-16)
1. Jesus took his place at the table, at the right time (v. 14)
2. He knew that his time of death was coming
3. Jesus knew that the meaning of the Passover meal
4. Jesus gave the Passover meal a new meaning
5. When we receive Holy Communion, we are meeting Jesus once again. I don’t know about you, but meeting up with Jesus is the best thing I can do in my life. I want to meet Jesus often. He is the one who gets us ready to be in the kingdom of God.
C. Jesus took the first cup (v. 17-18)
1. Jesus gave thanks for the 1st cup
2. We divide the cup amongst ourselves
3. He won’t drink until the kingdom comes
4. What about us, do we drink the cup until the kingdom comes?
D. Jesus took a loaf of bread (v. 19)
1. Jesus gave thanks for the bread
2. He broke the bread – done once by Jesus (past tense)
3. We get Jesus’ body!
4. Do this! (Present tense)
5. If we are going to be continuing to read our Bibles and saying our prayers, then we can also be about doing Holy Communion. Are you unworthy? Does that mean you cannot follow a command from Jesus? Are you going to get drunk at communion and somebody else going to hog the bread (1 Corinthians 11:27f)? Can you repent of your ways? Then you are ready. Even if you are not ready, then doing what you are told is better than ignoring Jesus’ command. Remember, it is God’s grace at work in Holy Communion. Our grace won’t help us to do much. But God’s grace enables to know him.
E. Jesus took the cup after supper (v. 20)
1. Jesus took the cup after supper
2. Same thing as the bread – do this!
3. God is doing a new thing for us through Jesus
4. Covenant – not external, but internal (Jeremiah 31:31f)
5. We take both parts, the bread and the cup. It is not one or the other, but both. Again, we are reminded to “do this.” We may not have two cups, but we do have the cup and the bread. Through these God’s grace draws us closer to him and to one another. John Wesley said this about taking communion often: “I ask, then, why do you not accept of his mercy as often as ever you can? God now offers you his blessing – why do you refuse it? You have now an opportunity of receiving his mercy – why do you not receive it? You are weak – why do you not seize upon every opportunity of increasing your strength? In a word – considering this as a command of God, he that does not communicate as often as he can has no piety; considering it as a mercy, he that does not communicate as often as he can has no wisdom.”
Has Jesus commanded us to take communion? Then at least don’t be disobedient in this one task. Everything else will take on a different light as you proclaim Jesus’ death when you do receive Holy Communion.