What Is Your Opinion On The Lord's Supper And Does It Matter?

Text: 1 Corinthians 11:23-32

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Just ask, and you will find that there are many different opinions on the Lord’s Supper.

Some people believe that the bread and wine are merely symbolic – that the bread and wine represent the body and blood of Jesus.

Others believe that communion is a personal thing between them and Jesus and has nothing to do with the unity of everyone else gathering around the altar.

And some believe that taking communion is just an act of obedience – a way to show their devotion to the Lord by remembering Him.

Others will say that we don't get forgiveness from communion. Instead, communion reminds us of the forgiveness we already have obtained by our decision to follow Jesus.

Finally, but certainly not least, there are those who believe that the Lord’s Supper is for only holy people and that what makes the Lord’s Supper holy is the holiness of the minister or priest. 

Now, we could certainly go on and on and on about the many more opinions on the Lord’s Supper.  And I am sure we could poll everyone here to get our thoughts on the Lord’s Supper as well.  The only problem with this is that our opinions about the Lord’s Supper really mean nothing.  That is right; what you, I, and our neighbors think about the Lord’s Supper is of no importance.  The reason why?  It is not our supper; we are not the host!

Dear friends, think of it this way.  If you are the host of a supper, you are the one who gets to do the inviting.  You are the one who sets the menu.  You are the one who decides where people sit.  And so, when people come to your feast of a meal, they come as guests.  They come to receive that which you set before them.  You are in charge; they are not.  You are the one who serves; they are the ones who receive. 

But imagine this.  Imagine that you invited a group of guests, set the menu, chose the wine, prepared the appetizers – as well as set out the seating assignments with the best of silverware and plates.  And then upon arrival, the guests come with paper towels, paper plates, and individualized Happy Meals from McDonald's with Coors Light cans and Capri Sun juice boxes.  And without asking, they shove your silverware, plates, and seating assignments aside, and start eating their Big Macs.  And then halfway through the meal, with their Capri Sun juice boxes held up, they decide to invite you to the table, after all, it is ‘your’ meal.  But then when you bring the food that you prepared for them?  Well, they mock and scorn you, telling you that you shouldn’t be so stuck-up with your meal – that by trying to serve them the food that you prepared makes them feel judged and uncomfortable.  They go on to say that by you trying to be the host, you are too controlling and not making them feel welcomed, and besides if you don’t chill out, they will go somewhere else where they are indeed welcomed. 

How would you respond to this?  What is going on here? 

Dear friends, what is going on is that the meal that you prepared was marginalized by your guests.  Sure they said it was your meal and that you are the host; however, in reality, the food that you prepared to give them and you being the host really does not matter.  The point being; this is what happens with the Lord’s Supper in Christianity, when our opinions and thoughts dictate how the Lord’s Supper should be conducted and what the Lord’s Supper is all about according to us. 

You see, some 2,000 years ago, on that Holy Thursday, Jesus – not the disciples – instituted the Lord’s Supper. Listen to the events of that Holy Thursday: the same night in which Jesus was betrayed by Judas, Jesus took the bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying,

“Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you.  This do in remembrance of Me.” 

Then after giving them the bread, Jesus took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying,

“Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.  This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”    

Indeed, Christ instituted (i.e., established) the Lord’s Supper – that is why we call it the Lord’s Supper and not Matt Richard’s Supper or John Doe’s Supper.  Christ Jesus is the host, and we are the guests. 

So, since we are the guests in the Lord’s Supper, our personalized opinions and thoughts carry no weight. We certainly do not have the authority to spin the Lord’s Supper to our ideas, and we certainly should not approach the Lord’s Supper as if we are in charge – as if we are the host.

But how shall we approach the Lord’s Supper?  The answer is quite simple.  We approach the Lord’s Supper in faith. 

Dear Baptized Saints, you see, we must truly understand that we are spiritually impoverished.  We do not know what is useful or necessary for our Christian lives, so we do not dare dictate how things should be to the Lord.  When our pride and arrogance attempt to invert things, making us in control and letting our opinions rule, we have given way to the diabolical plans of the evil one.  Instead, by faith we trust Jesus, and we listen to His Word.  You see, faith is like hunger, it attaches to the one who gives good and nourishing gifts.  As hungry people, we feast upon God’s Word and stay in it.  If we let go of God’s Word for one moment, we fall away from truth.[1]

So, regarding the Lord’s Supper, we are hungry guests who are glad to hear the invitation to come to the Lord’s Table.  We are glad that He invites us to eat and drink.  And so we approach the Lord’s Supper as hungry guests – with God-fearing hearts – clinging to Jesus’ words.  And we receive the Lord’s Supper as Jesus instituted and with the words Jesus spoke.  Bluntly stated, we do not add to Jesus’ Words and we do not subtract from Jesus’ Word.  We do not reinterpret Jesus’ Word as being symbolic.  And we do not substitute grape juice for wine and we do not use potato chips instead of bread because that would be different from Jesus’ words.  As hungry guests, we also realize that the communion is not based on our holiness or our obedience (or the holiness and obedience of the pastor) but upon Jesus and His Word.  So, we come to the Lord’s Table as fellow sinners with a unified confession of faith, to be His guests.  We come clinging not to our opinions but Jesus’ Word.      

And what is Jesus’ Word to us?  We hear from Jesus’ Word that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the garden which spurned God’s generosity and poisoned every relationship in the garden.  We hear from Jesus’ Word that a curse fell upon everything and everyone – including you and me.  But we also hear in Jesus’ Word that Jesus’ holy, precious blood and His innocent suffering and death made the cross into a tree of life for you.  We hear in Jesus’ Word that the Lord’s Supper is a special feast for you to enjoy as the Lord’s guest.  As the host, Jesus provides you with His own true body and blood under the bread and wine, for the forgiveness of your sins and the strengthening of your faith.[2] 

So, tonight, clinging to Jesus’ Word by faith as hungry guests, you and I come  to the Lord’s Table, so that Jesus can give Himself to you and pledge never to leave you nor forsake you.    

Yes, you, who are hungry, and you, who are thirsty, come to the Lord’s Supper, for you will be nourished and refreshed. 

You, who feel the weight of sin, the guilt of your failures, and the sting of death, come to the Lord’s Supper, for here at the altar you receive Jesus – you receive forgiveness, life, and salvation. 

Come and receive, as the Lord’s guest.  The Lord does not hold back; He meets you because He is for you. 

Come and receive the body and blood of Christ this evening in the Lord’s Supper – a holy meal that He instituted for you that Maundy Thursday long ago. 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

[1] Martin Luther (W 19, 498).
[2] Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 19.

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