Meeting At the Lord’s Table

Hope for Today (English)
Hope for Today (English)
Meeting At the Lord's Table
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1 Corinthians 10:16-22

Eating together is the crown of fellowship. For many, the family table holds precious memories. In my parental home, the family always ate together-breakfast, dinner, and supper. We each had our place at the table, and we never ate without a prayer by my father. The table was our meeting place. I realize that different cultures have different customs. But a meal together as a family is generally treasured.

What we Christians call the Lord’s Table has its roots in the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, led by Moses. Exodus 12:1-14 records the establishment of the Passover. Imagine you are an Israelite in the land of Egypt listening to Moses. Here is what he spoke to them:

And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.

Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. And thus ye shall eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s passover.

For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

The Passover was the Israelites’ final ceremony in the land of their captivity. It celebrated their release from slavery. By it, they bound themselves to the Lord. The blood on their doors both liberated them from Egypt and obligated them to the Lord. After that, it was to be an annual memorial feast throughout their generations. Jews all over the world have kept the Passover, modified because of the circumstances under which they had to live.

When Jesus came, He advanced the revelation of God. Born of the virgin, He had a perfect human nature, lived a perfect human life, and made a perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. The potential is there for all and any who hear and believe.

As He came near the appointed time of His death, Jesus had one last Passover with His disciples. Now I want you to get the connection between what Moses said and what Jesus did as recorded in Luke 22:7-20:

Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guest chamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready.

And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not anymore eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

One can feel the connection to the Passover. As the blood of the Passover lamb liberated and obligated Israel, so the blood of Jesus liberates us from the judgment of our sins and obligates us to serve Him. The trade-off is all to our advantage! Amen!

Paul’s teaching about the Lord’s Table in I Corinthians 10:16-22 helps us to understand its meaning:

16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

19 What say I then? that the idol is anything, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is anything?

20 But I [say], that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.

22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

I invite you to join me as I reflect on several meditative THOUGHTS derived from Paul’s teaching about MEETING AT THE LORD’S TABLE.

The first meditation is:

THE THOUGHT OF INCLUSION

16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

The family thought is here. “The cup which we bless” reflects the closely-knit family at the Passover. The Jews were there as families, as we saw in Exodus 12. We saw them on the evening of their Exodus.

The cup of the blood of Christ unites us in communion as members of the family of God. The word communion in our text means “a close fellowship.” So we can say this is a participation in the blood of Christ.

My wife, Isabelle, and I have joyfully experienced meeting at the Lord’s Table in different countries, with brothers and sisters in the family of God. It is the fellowship of the body of Christ.

As the grains are united in the bread, so we are united in Jesus. Each grain is joined to the other grain in the bread. So as with the bread, we become one body.

Our first meditation, then, is the Thought of Inclusion. We are included at the family table, so to speak.

Observe the words of Barnes in his commentary:

There is evident allusion here to the fact that the loaf or cake was composed of many separate grains of wheat, or portions of flour united in one; or, that as one loaf was broken and partaken by all, it was implied that they were all one. We are all one society; united as one, and for the same object. Our partaking of the same bread is an emblem of the fact that we are one. In almost all nations the act of eating together has been regarded as a symbol of unity or friendship.

The second meditation from Paul’s teaching is:

THE THOUGHT OF INTRUSION

18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

19 What say I then? that the idol is anything, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is anything?

20 But I [say], that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

Here the apostle Paul gets rather firm on the matter of the altar of sacrifice. This altar was for those who served at the altar. In the history of Israel, this was very important. Certain family members had been set aside by the decree of God to be the ones to officiate at the altar. They were the sons of Levi, called Levites, the priestly tribe. One of the kings of Israel presumed to usurp the priesthood, and he suffered leprosy for the rest of his life. His name is Uzziah (see II Chronicles 26:9). No one was to officiate at the altar except the descendants of Levi.

Opposites cannot be tolerated. Idol sacrifices have no place. They are an intrusion into the body of Christ. It is very interesting that the word “communion” is the word “fellowship,” and the word “fellowship” in verse 20 is identical to the word “communion” in verse 16. You see, the intrusion of idol worship into the fellowship of the Lord’s Table is unthinkable.

Our second meditation is the Thought of Intrusion corrupting the fellowship of the body of Christ. Again, Barnes has a significant word:

They are united in their worship and are so regarded. And in like manner, if you partake of the sacrifices offered to idols, and join with their worshippers in their temples, you will be justly regarded as united with them in their worship, and partaking with them in their abominations.

Our third meditation is:

THE THOUGHT OF EXCLUSION

21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.

22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

The apostle Paul draws a sharp line in verse 21: “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of the devils [demons]: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and the table of devils [demons].” This is impossible. Jesus said, “You cannot serve two masters. You either love the one and hate the other, serve the one or despise the other” (see Matthew 7:24). You must decide where your loyalty is. The apostle says it is impossible to “to drink of the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons.” The cup of the Lord and the Lord’s Table excludes the cup of demons and the table of demons. I am going to tell you something very emphatically: The Lord is intolerant of evil. Anyone who follows Him must also be intolerant of evil.

I remember so well the Friday morning of the Jerusalem Conference on Biblical Prophecy, as the sun was shining in the East, how we gathered on the Mount of Olives for the communion service. As we began, Dr. Richard Halverson, who was in charge of the Lord’s Table, said, “This table is for sinners.” Underneath that was the implication of “sinners who have found their peace through the blood of the Lamb.” This reflects our third meditation, the Thought of Exclusion to maintain the proper relationship with Jesus.

Once again I defer to Barnes:

We may observe, that any course of life that tends to alienate the affections from God, and to fix them on other beings or objects, is a sin of the same kind as that referred to here. Any inordinate love of friends, of property, of honor, has substantially the same idolatrous nature and will tend to provoke him to anger. And it may be asked of Christians now, whether they will by such inordinate attachments provoke the Lord to wrath? whether they will thus excite his displeasure, and expose themselves to his indignation? Very often Christians do thus provoke him. They become unduly attached to a friend, or to wealth, and God in anger takes away that friend by death, or that property by the flames: or they conform to the world, and mingle in its scenes of fashion and gayety, and forget God: and in displeasure, he visits them with judgments, humbles them, and recalls them to himself.

Therefore our Meeting at the Lord’s Table will be enriched as we meditate on:

THE THOUGHT OF INCLUSION

THE BODY OF CHRIST—we are one body.

THE THOUGHT OF INTRUSION

THE SACRIFICES—that are made to demons.

THE THOUGHT OF EXCLUSION

THE COMMUNION-no fellowship between the Lord’s cup and the cup of demons.

The Lord’s Table and the table of demons are totally opposed and mutually exclusive. We who are redeemed believers meet at the Lord’s Table as the body of Christ.

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