The Corinthian church had turned the practice of Communion into a mockery of the Gospel by using The Lord’s Supper to partake in drunkeness and favoritism, with little or no focus on Jesus Christ Himself.
15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.
A brush of idealism paints the first century church as a nostalgic example of community and perfection. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In this sermon series, Pastor Mark Driscoll teaches on Paul’s First Letter to the Church in Corinth. The Apostle wrote to the Corinthians to untangle the many moral and theological knots they’d created, providing some of the richest theological sections of the New Testament. If you have any questions following this podcast, email email@example.com. To subscribe to this and other Mars Hill podcasts, go to marshillchurch.org, and here’s Pastor Mark with 1 Corinthians: Christians Gone Wild.
Good evening Mars Hill. We’ll be in 1 Corinthians, Chapters 10 and 11 tonight. If you’ve got a Bible, you can go there. If not, you should have gotten something in, on your way in, called a Loop. It’s just a set of notes that’ll help guide our time together. So, if you don’t have a Bible, you can check that out as well. We’re going to deal with the topic of communion tonight as we continue our series in 1 Corinthians. Next week, we’ll deal with women, feminism, gender roles, lesbianism. Both of you will really appreciate that and this week, however, we’re going to deal with the topic of communion and we’re going to start with Genesis. We’re going to go all the way to Revelation. We’ll skip a few things in the middle. We’ll hit the high points and I wanna, wanna thread this theme of meals with and without God together for you from Scripture. So I’ll go ahead and pray and we will get right to work.
And Father, we thank you for this great day. Ecclesiastes says that “light is sweet and it pleases the eye to see the sun.” God, we appreciate this time of year when the sun comes out for us and God, we acknowledge that you’re a good God, you’re our God, you’re the only God and we come together in your name, as your people to open your Word and we ask that we would see Jesus and we would acknowledge who he is and what he has done and that that would change us. For that to happen, we ask that the Holy Spirit, who has inspired the writing of Scripture, would come to illuminate our understanding of Scripture, so that what the Bible teaches would make sense to us tonight. So we ask all of this in Jesus’ good name. Amen.
Here’s my preface. History is something that could be studied from a multitude of angles. Some people’ll tell you to investigate history from the perspective of particularly important people. Others will tell you of events that have occurred. Some will tell you to look at ideas and the transition of ideas from one season to another. Christians will break history down into covenants or dispensations, which are periods of time or promises that God makes and means by which he fulfills those promises. And I would submit to you that one additional way of looking at history and putting all of human history together is by looking at it through the subject and the theme of meals – of eating with or without God – and so I’ll take you tonight on a walk from Genesis to Revelation and we’ll look at five different, distinctive, significant meals in human history that really changed the course of our relationship with God.
The first is in Genesis, Chapter 3. We read in Genesis Chapter 1 that God made the earth and he gave it to us as a gift to enjoy and to steward. He made us, male and female, with dignity, value and worth in his image and likeness and God told us we could eat anything we wanted, we were free to enjoy all that he had made – with one exception – that being that we were not permitted to partake from the Tree of the Knowledge of good and Evil. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, they sinned against God. They partook of that food which God had forbidden. They did what God has expressly told them not to do and that was the first sin, the Original Sin, is what the theologians call it. The bible says that Eve took first and then she handed some to her cowardly husband who was there with her, doing nothing – my interpretation paraphrase – and what we see then is that sin comes into human existence, we’re separated from God, one another, the curse comes, everything’s a mess. God could’ve looked as us and said, “Well, you don’t want to obey me, you reap what you sow, here’s the consequences.” Instead, God, in loving grace and kindness, said, “I’m going to send Jesus,” God’s going to become a human being, and he is going to reconcile human beings to God, “I’m going to send Jesus to straighten out the mess that was made.”
The story then continues through Genesis. God raises up a guy named Abraham; says, “Though you and your wife are elderly and barren, I’m gonna give you a baby and through that baby, is gonna come a family,” the Jews, “and through those people will come Jesus Christ to deal with the sin problem.” And so the rest of Genesis is the story of this one family. At the end of Genesis, there’s 60-some people in this family. A famine hits the land and they go to Egypt where they can get food. That brings us to the Book of Exodus.
And there, God raises up these people to be a nation of a few million. So, they go from a small family to a – millions of people. And a Godless king, a man named Pharaoh, comes to power in Egypt and he hates these people, because they worship God, not him as god. And he’s threatened because they’re growing in numbers and so he enslaves them, mistreats them, is unjust and abusive toward them. God raises up another man, Moses, and tells him, “You go speak to the Pharaoh for me and him that these are my people, not his people and I’m God, he’s not god, and if he doesn’t let my people go, I’m going to give him the UFC smack down and that’s the way it’s gonna go,” again, my interpretation and paraphrase.
So, Moses repeatedly goes to the pharaoh, says, “You’re not God, he is,” and “Those aren’t your people, they’re his,” and “He’s telling you, you better let them go, otherwise, it’s gonna be a rough day for you.” God sends a succession of plagues and judgments. Pharaoh gets hard-hearted and won’t relent, won’t release. Eventually, God comes and says, “Here’s the last judgment. If you don’t repent and let my people go and acknowledge me as the one, true, real God, I’m going to send death throughout the nation of Egypt and every firstborn male in every household will die. They’ll be put to death, with one exception. Those households who, in faith, get a lamb without blemish or defect, slaughter it, take its blood, have it cover the doorposts of their home – those families will be spared and death will literally pass over them. Leads to the second meal. The Passover meal, all foreshadowing Jesus, who is the lamb of God, whose blood was shed to take away our sins, so that the wrath of God would pass over us – be propitiated as the New Testament theological nomenclature – would be propitiated from us, and that God would pass us over in judgment and protect us, instead, in love. And so what God said was, “I want all of the people who do trust in me and are waiting for Jesus, to start having what he titled a Passover meal. Every year, God’s people were to get together, the Old Testament Church, slaughter an animal – which is foreshadowing the coming of Jesus – and they were to have a meal doing exactly what God had said, as prescribed in Exodus Chapter 12. And how many of you have a Jewish friend or family that you know that still celebrates Passover? Well, the whole point of Passover was Jesus, the lamb of Jesus Christ, our Passover lamb, has been slain.” So the whole point of slaughtering a lamb and having a Passover feast and meal as a family is to show that Jesus is coming and that his blood will cover us so that God’s wrath will pass over us.
Well, indeed that happened. God’s people were liberated from slavery and bondage in Egypt. Death came to all the homes and the firstborn sons died who didn’t have faith – the families who didn’t have faith in God. God’s people then continued forward and went back to their home and curiously enough, every year they celebrated Passover. Jews still celebrate it today, which is in some ways sad because it’s about Jesus and they don’t know it’s about Jesus. They’ve missed the whole point. But for a few thousand years, God’s people, every year, celebrated Passover. That’s the second meal. First meal was Adam and Eve eating in unbelief and sin. The second is the Passover eaten by God’s children in faith that Jesus is coming to shed his blood to cover them, to take away their sin. For thousands of years, God’s people keep getting together, every year, celebrating the Passover, until Jesus is born.
Jesus is God who comes into human history. He’s a young man in his early 30s and it comes to the time of year when it’s time to celebrate the Passover. Jesus celebrated the Passover, the second meal and he got his disciples together and he was at the head of the table as the leader, running the event of the Passover. We now know it as the Last Supper. You may have seen the painting with Jesus and all his disciples. That’s what it is.
And Jesus sat there, and Luke 22 records that Jesus was going through all the things that were to be said and done just according to God’s prescription in Exodus 12, and then he deviated from thousands of years of history and he said something that had never been said before. He took the bread and he said, “This bread is my body, which will be broken for you, and this wine is my blood that will be shed for you. My body and blood will be given for your sins, so that you can enter into the new covenant that Jeremiah promised, the covenant of Grace with God. And God, through Jesus, changed all of the Passover celebration in human history. Jesus said all of those Passover meals that we’ve been eating for all of these years – that was all about me. I’m here now. It’s all fulfilled. It’s all gonna get taken care of. Sins will be forgiven. People will be reconciled to God and that will happen through my body being broken and my blood being shed as God, who became a human being, to reconcile human beings to God, by living a sinless life, dying as a substitute in their place – thereby taking away the sin so that people could be close to God.
Well, the story goes on that Jesus was, in fact, put to death. His body was broken, his blood was shed in our place, for our sins. We call that subsitutionary atonement. That’s the theological nomenclature for that doctrine. Jesus died. Three days later, he rose from death. He ate again with some of his friends. He appeared for 40 days to make sure that everyone knew that he was alive, that he had conquered Satan’s sin and death, and then he ascended into Heaven. And the early church immediately began gathering together, having meals, just like Jesus did at his Last Supper. That’s the Fourth Meal, the Lord’s Table, the Lord’s Supper, or communion. The reason the early Christians started getting together and doing that is because at the Last Supper, Jesus said, “Do this,” keep doing this, “in remembrance of me.” So, Jesus said, “If you believe in me,” when you get together, celebrate, the Lord’s Table, you know, the Lord’s Meal, whatever word you wanna use for that, “do this,” continually, “in remembrance of me.” So, the early Christians, very soon, began practicing that Fourth Meal, that meal of communion, of the Lord’s Table, of the Lord’s Supper, remembering Jesus.
Now, this leads us up to 1 Corinthians, Chapters 10 and 11, whereby we have the first snapshots of communion meals in the early church. This is one of the first portraits that we have, first vignettes that we receive, of what was going on in the communion meals in the early church. So we’ll pick it up in Chapter 10, verse 14 of 1 Corinthians. “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.” We dealt with that a few weeks ago. Idolatry is worshipping anything other than God or worshiping God in a way that he does not accept. “I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.” Now he’s going to go on here to talk a great deal about Jesus. And so what he is saying is that each of us must come to our own conclusions, personally, about Jesus. Right, about Jesus. Do we – do you believe that Jesus is God who became a man? Do you believe that Jesus lived without sin? Do you believe that Jesus died on a cross as a substitute for you? Do you believe that Jesus rose from death? Do you believe that Jesus can take away sin? Do you believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises? Do you believe in Jesus? Do you love Jesus? Are you devoted to Jesus? Have you made up your mind about Jesus? Not just your parents making up their mind or your friends making up their mind, but have you made up your mind? Have you come to your own judgment about Jesus?
Paul’s telling that to his church, so I’m incumbent to tell it to you, as well that we each must come to our decisions regarding the person and the work of Jesus. We need to make our own personal judgments, as it were. He goes on to say, “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ?” So he says when we go to communion, there are two elements, one of which is wine that it is in a cup, and we also use juice here at Mars Hill. Some of you are recovering alcoholics. We don’t wanna cause you any trouble, so we give you a choice. But when you look at the drink in the cup, what are you supposed to remember, according to what Paul just stated? The blood of Jesus, okay? So communion is about Jesus, okay? Everything in the Bible is about Jesus and communion in the Bible is also about Jesus. And some of you may have gone to church before and you’re like, “What’s up with the wine? That’s – is this happy hour? What, you know, what is that? How come we don’t get kamikazes, you know? I’ll take a martini. I mean, what, what is that with the wine?” No, it’s to remind us of the blood of Jesus. So you look at that red drink and you think, “Oh, that reminds me of the blood of Jesus. And it’s not the bread we partake of, a participation of the body of Christ. So when we look at the bread at communion, what are we supposed to remember? The body of Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” We’re supposed to think, “Ah, that reminds me of Jesus’ body.” So, as the bread is broken, Jesus’ body was broken. As we see the wine, Jesus’ blood was shed and flowed red. That’s what we’re supposed to remember at communion. That’s what we’re supposed to remember at communion.
He goes on to say, Verse 17, “Because there is one loaf, we who partake are many, and one body, for we all partake of one loaf.” Now their church was small enough that it took one loaf of bread to serve communion to the whole church. We don’t have a loaf that big, right? There was a day when Mars Hill could serve communion off a slice of bread, not necessarily a loaf of bread, but this was a church of maybe 30, 40 or 50 people that met in a house. So they get one loaf of bread, everybody take a chunk and he’s using an analogy where he’s saying, “Just as you all took a piece of the same loaf, you’re all the same church, same community, same family, same people. What he’s arguing for here is that communion is supposed to be a demonstration of our unity. That as we partake of communion, those of us who are Christians, we’re showing that we’re all in this together; that we all worship Jesus together; that we all acknowledge we’re sinners together; that we’re all going to Heaven together; that one day we’re all gonna rise from death like Jesus together; that we’re in this, essentially, together. Equal, before God – equally sinful, equally loved – and we are together, not divided.
Sadly, what he says is that there was much division in their church. He goes on in Verse 18, “Consider the people of Israel:” the church in the Old Testament. “Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean, then, that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything?” Here’s what he’s saying. That in their day, there were religions just like today, with Buddhism or Hinduism. There are certain religions that will have little shrines and there’ll be little gods or goddesses in there and they’ll sit in their restaurants and homes. There’ll be regional deities that oversee trades or areas or jurisdictions and geographies and people will give prayers and money and food and put it in there for the little god or goddess and Paul says, “That’s really not a God.” Like, if you made it, it’s not a god, right? Like if you get a chunk of wood and like, carve it into something – that’s not God, right? That’s not God. What he’s saying is it’s not really a god. Romans 1 says that God is our creator and idolatry is when we worship created things, like little idols. So he says that don’t think that, you know, just because your friends have idols or just because the restaurant you go to has got idols, don’t necessarily worry about the idol. The idol isn’t really anything other than just a piece of wood but – but there is something to be worried about.
He goes on, he says Verse 20, “But the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons and not to God and I don’t want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink of the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part at both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?” What he’s saying is this. That other religions, Buddhism, Islam, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, those who are into witchcraft, even white witchcraft, which is ridiculous – it’s not like there are good witches and bad witches, I don’t care what the Wizard of Oz says, it’s all wrong – witches are bad, right? And what he’s saying is that if there is false religion, false worship, the worship of anything other than Jesus, that’s demonically inspired. It’s not just religion, plurality, diversity, perspectivism, it’s demonic. We believe in Satan. We believe in demons. We believe that demons love to have people worship anything and everything and everyone and anyone other than Jesus.
And so what he’s saying is this. If you are a Christian, you are saying, “My God is Jesus. I worship Jesus. I serve Jesus. I trust Jesus. I wanna be like Jesus. I follow Jesus and when I die, I’m gonna rise and I’m gonna live forever with Jesus. I’m a Jesus freak, Jesus geek. That’s my team and I’m sticking with it, right? That’s what it means to be a Christian. But you can’t be a Christian who plants your foot in the church as a Christian – getting up, taking communion and identifying yourself publicly with Jesus – and still having another foot on another team. People in this church were trying to be hyphenated Christians. People still try to do that. “I’m a Buddhist-Christian.” No. “I’m a Mormon-Christian.” No, no, no, no, no, no. “I’m a Jehovah’s Witness-Christian.” Uh uh. “I’m a New Age-Christian.” Nope, nope, nope. Nope. I’m a Theosphicar. No. Hey, no. Whistle. No, no. No hyphenated Christians. Christian. Not blankety-blank Christian. That’s blanket-blank, right? That’s the way it is. There’s no hyphenated Christianity. It doesn’t work that way. You’re either about Jesus or you’re not and when you turn to Jesus, you are literally turning your back on your prior allegiances and alliances. It would be the same today as saying, “I’m a Christian Witch. I go to church on Sunday, I go to coven on Wednesday.” No, you don’t. No you don’t. Right, you don’t go to church on Sunday but on Saturday, you were down at the strip club, maintaining the VIP membership you had before you got saved for special favors in the back room. You gotta quit that team. If you’re in some online chat community or sexual deviant porno file swapping community and you meet Jesus and you join a church, you’re saying, “Well, now I’m a member of a church, I can’t be a part of this community as well.” You gotta pick a team. You gotta pick a team. And what he says is that demons would love for you to put your trust in Jesus plus something else, which really isn’t trusting him at all.
So let me ask you this. What is he saying? He’s saying that, to partake of communion requires two things. One, that we’re Christian. We’re Christian. Are you Christian? I don’t know your heart. You gotta examine yourself. Do you hate sin? Do you love Jesus? Do you trust Jesus? Do you worship Jesus? Do you follow Jesus? Are you into Jesus? Secondly, are you a faithful Christian? Are you a person who’s put both feet in Jesus or a person who’s got one foot in Jesus and one foot in something’ else that it shouldn’t be in? And the Bible says you’re “double-minded and unstable in all that you do elsewhere.” That’s the first issue. That’s the first issue. And I’m not saying that we turn our back on people but we turn our back on alliances, allegiances and participation in things that are demonically inspired and contrary to Jesus. Which means, you could have friends that are witches and friends that are Buddhists and friends that are Muslims and friends that are Jehovah’s Witnesses and friends that are Mormons and friends that are New Agers and friends that are atheists and you should be friends with them you should love them and you should bring the love of Jesus to them but you should not participate in what they are doing. You shouldn’t see a psychic. You shouldn’t touch a Ouija board. you shouldn’t go to a coven. You shouldn’t be praying with the Buddhists. You shouldn’t be having intercessory prayer time with the Hindus. You shouldn’t be talking about the karmic consciousness that you all want to zone into with the New Agers. You should be saying, “I’m on Jesus’ team and I love you but I’m not doing any of that stuff. That’s not my team. I’m not on the strip club team. I’m not on the New Age team. I’m not on the Buddhist team. I’m not on the Mormon team. I’m with Jesus. That’s it.” And it’s not hyphenated, Jesus plus anything else. That’s exactly what he’s saying.
And some of you are still in that place where you’re trying to be young and cool and hip and keep your options open. You went to college, learned big words like pluralism and post-modernism and perspectivism. Right? Going-to-hellism. All that stuff. Stick with Jesus, you’ll be okey dokey. Chapter 11, right? Chapter 11.
He then jumps forward, picks up the theme of communion again in Verse 17. We’ll go back and cover the rest of the verses next week. It’s on feminism, lesbianism, aw, it’ll be good. Verse 17. “In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good.” Okay, that’s a bummer to get, right? The whole church, “Hey, Paul sent us a letter!” “Cool, let’s get together, let’s read it!” “Cool!” Everybody gets together, guy gets up, “Oh, Paul says, ‘Dear church, you stink.’” That’s what he said, right? Stinketh in the King James. You stink. All right, you stink. You go, “Man! Bummer! Dang it! Paul says we stink. Dang it.” Now some of you were told Christians are supposed to be nice and always say nice things. No, Christians are supposed to tell the truth, which is why they killed Jesus and the truth is that some churches stink. Or, as I said, stinketh, in the King James. Some churches stinketh, and they do. Now, some of you say, “No, churches are good.” No, some stinketh. They just do. They just do. Some churches are terrible. You know, three and-a-half thousand churches die every year and a lotta pastors lament that fact. “That’s terrible.” I’m like, “No, that’s not enough. I got a list of some other ones that I totally think somebody needs to blow up and be done with them.” They’re just terrible because this church is an example of a church that does more harm than good. Isn’t that a terrible thing for a church to be? I mean, you say, “Well, there’s lies and truth. Do we tell more truth or lies?” “We tell more lies than truth.” What? “Do we teach more truthful doctrine than heresy?” “No, we teach more heresy than truthful doctrine.” Uh oh. “Do we help more people or hurt more people?” “We hurt more people than we help.” Really? Really? “Are people’s lives better or worse for being involved in this church?” “Well, they’re worse.” Uh oh.
See, spirituality and religion, quite frankly, are nothing that we’re all that into. We’re into Jesus, right? But spirituality and religion sometimes does great harm and great damage. Most of the great atheists in the history of the world had a bad church experience and they became atheists just because Christians freaked them out. Not every church is good and not every church is doing good things and not every church has good deeds that outweigh bad deeds or truth that outweighs lies, I mean, there are churches where pastors are unfaithful to their wives. Nobody says or does anything. People are ripping off money, kids are getting molested, families are getting divorced, adulteries go on rampant, people have addictions, nobody says anything, nobody does anything. Nothing happens. Nothing is dealt with. And one of the ways that a church does more harm than good is it doesn’t talk about sin. It doesn’t talk about Jesus and it’s not into the Bible. That’s how you get into all the trouble with a church that causes more harm than good. It just is that way.
I mean, I have a buddy of mine, he’s a pastor and he had heard some negative things about another large church – I won’t say the name of the church, it’s not in our state – but he’d heard some bad things about this pastor who’s very well known. He said, “You know, I know a lotta people just like to criticize pastors, so I thought I’ll just go to his service for a couple weeks, I’ll listen to him and just see for myself.” He said, “I went for two or three weeks in a row and I never once heard the name of Jesus, ever. Not in the announcements, the drama, the sermon, the worship, nothing.” He said, “Two weeks in a row, he had an altar call. ‘If you wanna go to Heaven, come forth.’ Didn’t even say Jesus. Never even said a thing about sin.” You know, churches do more harm than good when they won’t talk about Jesus. “Well that offends people. If we say God then everybody feels good because everybody’s got their own idea and perspective and idea about God.” No, no, no. Jesus. It’s Je- we’re talking about Jesus. We’re not talking about just some vague, amorphous God that you get to define yourself. Talking about Jesus Christ and we’re talking about the problem is that we’re sinners. That’s the problem. And the answer is Jesus and that’s what the Bible teaches. We’re sinners. Jesus is God and Jesus is the solution for our sin problem. Any church that doesn’t start and end there, they cause more harm than good. People come in, “We have a marriage problem.” Oh, well you need to do what makes you happy. No, no, no, no. They’re sinning here. We need Jesus. Let’s open the Bible. People come in, “I’m depressed, what should I do?” Well, “Why are you depressed? Probably because of sin. Now we gotta talk about sin. Oh, you know what deals with sin? The Gospel. You know who the Gospel’s about? Jesus. Jesus is the one who will deal with the underlying root cause of your despair, which is you either sinned or were sinned against. You need Jesus.”
And see churches just get so off track. I mean, I love the church. And some of you are saying “Mars Hill stinks.” I got it. Every church has its issues, right? I mean, we’re not perfect. Neither are you. Welcome. You’ll fit right in. And I understand we’re not a perfect church, but wouldn’t it be a bummer from God if we got a letter, an email, “Dear Mars Hill. You stink. Love, Jesus.” Be like “Dang it! Dang it! Dang it, we were hoping for a better report card than an F minus. That’s a bummer right there.”
He goes on. Here, he says what the root cause of the problem is; why they’re doing more harm than good. Verse 18. “In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.” Here’s their problem. These are arrogant people. These are arrogant people. Now, let me this – as a church, we – as a general rule, we embrace diversity. Now, I’m not talking theological diversity where, “Oh, whoever your God is, and whatever your favorite book is and however you think you’re gonna get to Heaven, that’s fine.” No. We’re not saying that. But we, we do embrace a diversity of people. In this room right now, young, old, rich, poor, black, white, republican, democrat, well-educated, simple, blue-collar, white-collar, no collar, people who’ve been convicted, people who haven’t been convicted, you know, people who smoke, people who don’t, people who recycle, people who don’t. Right, people who eat meat, people who don’t, people who are indie rockers, people who’re listening to pop and therefore are second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God, right? We have all these different people sitting here in Mars Hill Church and you know what? The diversity is fine. It says that God loves all of these people and this is a big, weird family and God’s a good dad, kay? Now the difference is this: Diversity is not a problem but division is. And when we take our diversity, what he calls differences, and we elevate it to points of division, what we’re saying is, “I’m single. I only hang out with single people.” “I’m married. I only hang out with married people.” “I’m black. I only hang out with black people.” “I’m white. I only hang out with white people.” “I’m young.” “I’m rich.” “I’m old,” “I’m poor.” “I’m simple.” “I’m educated.” “I’m successful.” “I’m cute.” “I’m funny.” “I’m smart.” “I’m hot.” “I’m hip.” Whatever. We try to distinguish ourselves from other people so that we could say, “I’m better than you because I’m smarter, cooler, hipper, funnier, skinnier, whatever. Recycle.” That’s Seattle. Justification by recycling. That’s Seattle, right?
And what we do then is in arrogant pride, we can’t have unity. We can’t have love. We can’t have diversity because we’re so worried about how we can be different than one another so that we can show that we’re better than them. See, the whole world wants two things – equality and community. Okay. Here’s how you get it. We all stink equally. Okay, that’s equality. Everyone is sin and fallen short of the glory of God. So everyone stinks. We’re equal. We’re equally stinky. Now we’re equal. And you say, “Well, how do we get community?” Well, we need a point to rally around. What could we put at the center that will bring all of these great, diverse, sinful people together. Not politics. It ain’t gonna bring anybody together. Morality ain’t gonna bring anybody together. Issues agendas? Gender, family, marriage, kids, you name it, it’s gonna start a war. The one thing you put in the middle that will actually bring people together is Jesus. People who want unity, they need to understand that the only way you get unity is through humility and repentance. If Jesus is at the center, high and lifted up, he draws us unto himself. We look at him, we say, “I’m not like him. I’m sinful.” That humbles us, so we’re not looking at each other saying, “I’m better than you and I’m better than you.” We look at each other and say, “We’re all a dang mess. None of us is like him.” We all need him. We all need him. And that leads to humility. Then we’re humble. We’re like, “You’re different than me but pfft. I mean we both stink, so we’re kinda on the same team.” “Us hip-hoppers and indie rockers, we’re on the same team. The sinking boat. We’re both in it. We’re sinners.” And there’s Jesus and he’s the center and here’s the cool thing. This leads to humility, which also leads to graciousness. We’re kind and compassionate. Loving with one another because we realize that God’s been that way with all of us sinners and if Jesus is at the center and if we all move toward Jesus and walk toward Jesus and love and worship and adore Jesus, you know what? As a by-product, we get community. “Hey, I’m getting close to Jesus and you’re getting close to – hey, now we’re getting close to each other.” So when you walk into the church, you’re supposed to see, “Hey there’s blacks and whites and young and old and rich and poor and republican and democrat and indie rocker and hip-hopper and prof and homeless guy and what’s going on?” They’re all walking to Jesus. And they’re all getting close together. And they’re all confessing their sin. And they’re all humble. And they know that nobody’s any better than anybody else. And the only one who’s good is him.
And Paul says, you guys have a ch- you’ve totally missed that. You’ve absolutely, altogether missed that. Because when the church comes together, they’re not thinking about Jesus. When they go to take communion, they’re not thinking about Jesus. They’re thinking about themselves and how they’re cooler than everybody else in the room, or smarter, or prettier, or richer, or have been wounded more and therefore have more maturity than everyone else in the room.
He goes on: “When you come together,” Verse 20, “it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat,” now it looked like the Lord’s Supper, right? It looks like, I mean there’s a pastor and there’s bread and wine and they say some prayers and read a verse. People come up and take. You say, “Well why’s that not the Lord’s Supper?” Because the Lord’s Supper, communion, is not just something we do with our hands, it’s something we do with our heart. It’s both and. The outward act is symbolic of an inward devotion. When you take communion, you say, “Jesus died for me and because he died for my sin, I put my sin to death and I love and worship Jesus, he’s my God.” But if you just take bread and eat it and you don’t love Jesus, it’s just what Jesus called the vain traditions of men. It’s just hollow and empty routine. It’s not life-giving ritual. And this breaks my heart because for the first 18, 19 years of my life, ‘til God made me a Christian in college – I was 19 when I became a Christian, I’m 35 now – first 19 years of my life, I was Catholic. I’m not banging on the Catholics. I was Catholic and I went to a Catholic church, Catholic school. I was an altar boy. I would set up communion, serve communion, I partook of communion hundreds of times but you know what? I didn’t love Jesus. It’s not the Catholic church’s fault, to be honest with you. My fault. I knew enough about Jesus. I knew I didn’t believe in him, didn’t worship him, didn’t give a rip about him. I just thought, “Well, this is a spiritual thing you do. It’s what good people do. It’s religion, you know, maybe God’ll look down and say, ‘Wow, he’s got some bread in his mouth. He can go to Heaven.’” I don’t know what I was thinking. You know, like some lucky rabbit’s foot, you know, I don’t know what I’m thinking. Until I met Jesus, and then it broke my heart, thinking, “I been taking communion for years but I never really took communion. I was just a guy who had bread in his mouth, but no faith in his heart.”
Some of you grew up in homes where your parents were Christians. You went to church. Some of you had camp experiences. You went to Christian school and you’ve taken communion a million times and it’s gone from life-giving ritual to just sort of religious routine for you. You know, when you partake are you thinking about Jesus, are you confessing your sin? Are you devoting yourself to him? Are you standing up to publicly identify yourself with him? Or is it just, “This is what Christians do. This is the bread part of the show?” Paul says that’s where that church had gone. They’re not really partaking.
He goes on to say, “for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else.” Verse 21. “One remains hungry, another gets drunk.” I mean that’s a serious abuse of communion, right? People turn it into happy hour, they’re getting DWIs coming out of the church. I mean, that’s a, you know, that’s a crazy thing. I’ll explain to you how this happened in a moment. “Don’t you have homes to drink in?” You know, don’t you have a fridge? Don’t you have a place you can eat? “Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!” The way they did it, the church, early on, was small, didn’t meet in large buildings, met in homes, groups of 20, 30 or 40. And additionally, they would get together and have a big meal in remembrance of Jesus’ Last Supper. And there would be bread and wine and they would remember Jesus’ body and blood, broken and shed for their sin. But the way they did it, they took some of the ideology of the fat, huge, parties in their culture where the rich people would open up their home, they would entertain all their guests, be fat, food, drink, music, they’d bring in a prostitute for each one of the guests, sexual favors, this is just like a Vegas, you know, bachelor party gone wrong. It’s kinda how the Corinthians partied and they kind of imported some of that to their communion meals in homes. And so they would have the rich people come first, get the best seats, eat the hot food, drink the best wine, get totally satiated, gluttonous, full, drunk, pass out on the couch and then the poor people from the church could come and eat the leftovers.
Paul says what kind of Christian love is that? How is it that rich people get preferential treatment and poor people are mistreated if we’re all equal, equally sinful and equally loved of God. And God’s economy, it’s not rich and poor. He has all of his kids and he loves them all equally. And God doesn’t show favorites based upon income or IQ or cuteness. Paul says what’s wrong with you guys thinking you’re better than everybody else? And this happens in a church when the single people and the married people think they’re better than each other. And the rich and the poor, and the young and the old, and the black and the white, and those with children and those without, and those with educations and those without, and those who are hip, trendy and cool and those who are not. Square off against one another and say, “We don’t hang with your kind. We don’t hang with your kind.” Paul says if you’re Christians, you have to hang with one another. You’re a family. You’re gonna spend forever together in eternity. You gotta be together. Gotta come together. Otherwise, you really don’t understand the fact that you may not appreciate some people but God appreciates no people and if God is willing to take us into his family, the least we can do is return the favor. Paul says this is a, this is a real grievous mistake.
See, at Mars Hill, we partake of communion every Sunday. It’s a theological conviction. The church did, historically, until a schism at the time of the reformation in the, roughly, 16th century. But Jesus said, whenever you get together remember me and do this, so we do. So we do. It’s one of our distinctive as a church. But we also practice communion meals in homes with what we call community groups. These are groups of 10, 15, 20, 30 people. They meet in a home weekly for Bible study, prayer support. It’s a small house church expression, kinda like what they had in Corinth. And they’ll get together for meals but how much would it stink if you were in a community group and the community group leader said, “Okay, next week, we’re gonna do a big communion meal. We’re gonna have food and drink and we’re gonna have DJ and it’s gonna be fun and we’re gonna pray and read some scripture and it’s just gonna be a real wonderful time. How many of you make more than 50 grand a year? Okay, you guys come at 6:00. And how many of you make less than 50 grand a year. Okay, all you college students come at 8:00, because all the college students are always the broke ones, you guys come at 8:00. And the people who made good money showed up at 6:00 and they, they got great food, drank everything, you show up, they’re all drunk, passed out, and there’s nothing left but leftovers. And you’re like, what, what kind of loving church family is this? Second-class citizens all over the place. There should be no second-class citizens. Should be no second-class citizens, particularly when you think of the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ was a homeless guy. We’re all getting together to worship a homeless guy. Trying to figure out which one of us is cooler and richer as we worship the homeless guy. Probably haven’t really thought that through that much.
So here’s what he says. Verse 23. “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you:” He goes back to the third meal, the Last Supper, to articulate the directives for the Fourth Meal, communion. “The Lord Jesus,” that’s who we’re talking about. Lemme – lemme say this here. What he’s saying is this. When the church gets together, and particularly when they come forward for communion, they’re not thinking about Jesus. You say, that sounds obvious. Well, it’s not. Let me ask you this – when you partake of communion – those of you who are Christians – honestly. Now don’t, don’t tell me, but honestly, what are you thinking? How many of you dudes are sitting there thinking, “She’s cute. She’s really cute. I’m glad it’s hot. They wear skirts. I love this. I sit in the back and I watch them all go take communion.” Two dudes laughed. They’re honest. The rest are liars, right? I know. I know you guys, right? There are cute girls everywhere. I know. Look, I know and I see dudes, just sitting there, going – they nudge their buddy, like, “Look at that. Wow. Praise the Lord.” What are you thinking? What are you ladies thinking? “I hope I look good. I hope I look nice. I hope I,” you don’t. You don’t. Are you thinking, “Oh my gosh! She just had a baby and she’s not even fat. I hate her.” What are you thinking? You know? It’s amazing what we think of when we’re – when we’re supposed to be getting our hearts and our minds – it’s amazing – when we’re supposed to be preparing for communion, sometimes what we’re thinking about. “Oh, man, I gotta go take communion, but how do my pants look?” You know, but it’s amazing, what other things we can be thinking about when we’re supposed to be thinking about Jesus. So, Paul says you guys aren’t thinking about Jesus. You’re thinking about hot gals and good wine and your sports teams and your favorite band and whatever you’re thinking about, you’re not thinking about Jesus.
I talked to one gal – I’ll tell you a true story. I was talking to one gal a while ago and she told me the truth. She said – I said, “What do you think about at communion?” She said, “I watch the ladies’ shoes.” She’s apparently really into shoes. She’d be like, “Oh, those are great shoes. Oh, those don’t work at all. Oh, those are great shoes. Oh, those shoes are incredible.” She’s sitting there at communion, judging shoes on a 1 to 10 scale, right? I mean, it’s amazing – and I appreciated her honesty – it’s amazing how we can be thinking about things other that Jesus. Paul says, here, lemme tell you about Jesus, let’s get back to Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. If you want unity, Jesus. Community? Jesus. Humility? Jesus. A good church? Jesus. Good deeds? Jesus. You wanna fix your problems? Jesus. You wanna straighten out your mess? Jesus. You wanna take communion? Jesus. Like, let’s get it back to Jesus. So he does.
Verse 23. “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed,” goes back to the Last Supper, “took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” When the church gets together, supposed to partake of the Lord’s table, the Lord’s Supper, communion, whatever you want to call it, together. Until he comes back, remembering that it’s about our sin and his body broken and his blood shed on the cross for us for our sin, so that God’s wrath would pass over us. That’s what it’s all about.
He goes on then, to say: “Therefore,” Verse 27, “whoever eats the bread or drinks of the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner,” without being a Christian, without being a faithful Christian, who is repenting of sin and walking away from their old life, “will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.” You’re sinning against Jesus. You’re sinning against Jesus. You’re saying, “I get up to take communion to show that I’m a Christian and Jesus died for me.” Well, then put your sin to death. “Well, I don’t wanna do that.” Well, then you’re making a mockery of all that Jesus did. “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.” See, our service is set up in such a way that I preach the Bible and I’m always talking about sin and Jesus. That’s all I’ve ever talking about. If you haven’t been here before, this is the same sermon, every week, just different verses. But the same points. We’re bad. Jesus is good. We’re a mess. He’ll save us. Yay, Jesus. That’s the point. Every week, okay? Had a non-Christian come recently. They said, “Every week, you just talk about the same thing.” I said, “What?” “Well, I’m a sinner and I need Jesus.” I’m like, “Perfect. You do. And have you joined the team yet? That’s what we’re talking about every week. Sin. Jesus. That’s what it’s about.”
Paul says we got to examine ourselves to see where our sin is. We gotta look at – because you know what? Now, some traditions, smaller churches, have something they call fencing the table, based on text like this, where the elders serve communion. You come forward and they won’t serve you communion unless they know that you’re walking with God in holiness. The problem is, no one knows that because you sin in your mind, your heart, we can’t see it. You could be filled with lust and greed and covetous and anger and murder. We can’t see it, just thinking it. Plus, if you do sin, you probably are pretty, like, secretive about it. Like I tend to find that people sin privately as a general rule. Right? Like if you go to the mall right now, like nobody’s, you know, sitting there with no clothes on, you know, eating a fudgecicle and cursing God and picking their nose and declaring Jihad. You know, I mean, it just – it’s not – that’s at their house, you know? They’re not doing that at the mall. Right, we don’t, we don’t see – I’ve had a long day and I’m sweating like Mike Tyson in a spelling bee, so I got a little heat stroke and I apologize. But, but the point is, I can’t judge you all. I mean, there’s too many of you. Right? People come up, what am I supposed to say? “You’re holy. You’re not.” I – look there’s a lot of ya. You got me outnumbered and surrounded. So here’s what you gotta do. You gotta examine yourself. God, I know my thoughts. My heart, my words, my deeds, my sin, my devotion, you know and God knows the truth of your heart and life and mind. And you must examine yourself before you partake of communion.
He goes on, Verse 29. “For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord,” that’s Jesus, “eats and drinks judgment on himself.” So if you say, “I don’t like to be judged. You can’t judge me.” I’m not judging you. Jesus will judge you. And if you don’t want to be judged, and you shouldn’t want to be judged, here’s how you avoid that. Verse 30, or 31. He goes on to say, “If we judged ourselves, we wouldn’t come under judgment.” If you don’t want to be judged by Jesus when you die and go to hell, then judge yourself now as a sinner and give your sin to Jesus and put your trust in him and live a new life as a Christian. If you don’t wanna be judged, judge yourself. You know your life. You say, “Well what happens if I won’t judge myself and I take communion today?” Glad you asked. Verse 30, “That is why many among you are weak and sick,” not all sickness comes from sin but sometimes it does. Some people are sick because they keep taking communion without really being repentant. They haven’t turned their back on their old way of life. They still have a foot in each world and they get sick, additionally, additionally. “That’s why a number of you have fallen asleep.” What is that? Fallen asleep? That’s Christian euphemism for death. Metaphysically challenged. Right? Dead. They’re dead. Now, this is serious business, right? The reason we preach, call you to repentance before you partake of communion is because we don’t want you to die. Some of you say, “I’m not gonna die.” Don’t. Don’t. Don’t push it. This is serious business. Some of you say, “Well, that was the God of the Old Testament, the God of the New Testament’s a hippie. He’s real flexible. He’d never freak out like that.” Same God, man. Same God and he’s smoking new people in the New Testament, too. I mean, in the Book of Acts, two people ripped God off, he kills ‘em. In the church, during the offering. I mean, we don’t pass the plate, but you can imagine. If we passed the plate and the dude next to you died. You’d be throwing credit cards in, like, “Whatever it takes! I – whatever it takes.” You can imagine partaking of communion. You go up for communion and the dude in front of you dies. You’d be like, “Oh, my! Oh, my. Maybe later.” I mean, you know, this is nothing to mess around with. I mean, you’re messing around with God and Jesus has said that there is a way for our sin to get dealt with, so if we come forward for communion, saying I’ve dealt with my sin through Jesus and we haven’t and we’re making an open, public mockery of Jesus, God may deal with us right there in a severe way and we don’t want that to happen.
So we judge ourselves. We examine ourselves. We repent of our own sin and we give it to Jesus and his death covers our sin. He goes on. “But if we judged ourselves,” Verse 31, “we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned by the world.” Here’s what he says. God’s the father, we’re kids. God disciplines his children because he loves them. That’s what he’s saying. That’s what the Bible says elsewhere as well. See, I have kids. I’m the father of five. I got three boys, two girls and I don’t punish my children, I discipline them. Punishment is just to hurt them. Discipline is to correct and help change them. And I discipline them so that they will become self-disciplined, so that they could become disciples of Jesus. Some of you are saying, “I wanna be Jesus’ disciple.” But do you wanna be disciplined? “No. ”Discipline is how you become a disciple. It’s the same root word. It’s the same thing.” You become disciplined by God, so that you can become self-disciplined, which is the essence of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. And so if you are going through hard times and God, right now, has you in a pruning season, it’s not that he’s punishing you. If you’re a Christian, he is disciplining you to deal with sin and to make you more like Jesus. And sometimes sickness and, and affliction and such are the means by which God disciplines us.
“So then, my brothers, when you come together,” Verse 33, “to eat, wait for each other. If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together you may not – it may not result, rather in judgment. And when I come I will give further directions.” First meal, eaten by Adam and Eve in sin. In defiance of God. Second meal, the Passover, eaten in faith of the coming of the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, to shed his blood to take away our sin. Third meal, the Lord Jesus fulfilling the Passover at the Last Supper, instituting communion or the Lord’s Table. Fourth Meal, the early church, for thousands of years now, all Christians, including us, partake of communion each week to show that we’re unified in Jesus, which leads to the Fifth Meal, which is in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. History begins with the meal eaten apart from God and it ends with a meal eaten in the presence of God, Jesus Christ. And that meal is the wedding supper of the Lamb in Revelation Chapter 19. Tonight we will partake of the Forth Meal anticipating, expecting, longing for the Fifth Meal where we all sit down with Jesus in the Kingdom and we have a fat feast.
Now, some of you have a totally erroneous view of Heaven. You watched cartoons as a kid. You think Heaven is where you’re a fat cherub with a harp, sitting on a cloud, bored, forever. In a diaper, which is Hell. That’s not Heaven. That’s not Heaven, right? Here is a picture of Heaven. Heaven in the Bible is always spoken of as a party. A great party. Good food, good friends, good drink, good wine, good laughter. Including God. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “coming out to sing a solo, Jesus Christ.” That’s a great day. If you can get meat, wine and Jesus on a mic, that’s a good day.
Chapter 19, Verse 6. “Then I heard what sounded,” Revelation, “like a great multitude,” This is a picture into the eternal state, the Heavenly Kingdom of God, where you and I will be if we love Jesus, “like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! Our God – our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!’” That’s what Heaven’s about. It’s singing God’s praises. It’s about us being happy, being glad. Good times. No sin. No death. No curse, just joy. God’s already wiped every tear from our eye, now we just party forever without sin and drunkenness and gluttony but a good party nonetheless.
“For the wedding supper of the” what has come? The Lamb. Who’s the Lamb? Boy, that’s all the way back to the Passover. The Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Now the analogy is given that Jesus is a groom and the church is his what? Bride. It’s like a wedding. “The wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” The church. “Fine linen, bright and clean, she was given to wear.” Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints. Ladies, what color will the bride, the church of Jesus Christ, wear on the day that we come together for this meal with Jesus? White. What color do brides wear on their wedding day? White. What color should they wear? Black. The only woman who should ever wear a white dress is a repentant Christian. I wanna just institute this nationally. This is now a new declaration. I’m not sure it will stick but theologically, it’s more accurate. Because we’re all sinners, stained and marred by sin. Jesus Christ lovingly forgives us, washes us, purifies us, cleanse us in his righteousness, so that we can wear white, not because we’re sinless and spotless and pure, but because Jesus Christ has made us that way by Grace. So all of you Christian ladies, no matter what you’ve done, if you’re a repentant woman, you get to wear white on your wedding day because that’s the Gospel. But no one who is not repentant of sin and trusted in Jesus has any right to wear white on their wedding day because their sins aren’t covered and they can’t stand up and say, “Oh, there she is, spotless, pure, chaste, holy, glorious, sinless, and good. She’s amaz-” No. Pfft. She’s evil. And she’s faking it in white. And so is her husband with some cummerbund and we all know behind that is a totally depraved man. Stick with me.
Now, we’ll all be wearing white. Now, white – this is cool, because I was watching MTV recently and Puff Daddy, a/k/a Sean John, a/k/a P-Diddy – the guy can’t figure out what his dang name is – but he apparently throws these big, fat parties in Hollywood and he invites all the rock stars and hip-hop stars and entertainment moguls and actors and actresses but the rule is, it’s invite only and to get in, they check you at the door. You’re only allowed to wear one color. Everyone, one color. What is it? White. I’m not saying he’s Biblical, but he kinda is. Puff Daddy’s throwing these, like, Bible parties, kinda, in a way. I mean, not really. You know, I mean, there’s, there’s a lotta Ten Commandments getting broken there, but, but this whole deal, everybody – I saw it and I was like, “Everybody’s in white. Hm. He’s ripping off the Bible.” See, every good idea comes outta the Bible. And here, here it says we’re gonna have this great feast, this wedding of the Lamb, this great party. You’re all thinking, “Well what’s on the menu?” Thanks for asking, Isaiah 25:6, I’m reaching a little bit, it says that at this party, there will be the choicest of meats and the most aged of fine wines. Which means the vegetarians and the Baptists are bummed out. And the vegetarian Baptists are the most bummed out of all. “What’s on the menu?” Meat and wine. “I am a teetotalling vegetarian!” What are you doing here, you know? I’m just kidding.
So, now you think about it. Think about it. Man, doesn’t that sound great? All your fri- – and you know what, the Bible says that the sun never sets in Heaven. It’s always summer. It’s sunny, meat, wine, cool people, Jesus on the mic, little bit of music, all the nations, races, tribes, cultures, languages of people. This is the coolest multi-ethnic universal party throwdown ever. And I got a little taste of this when I went to Texas de Brazil Steakhouse in Texas. It was a foreshadowing of the Kingdom of God. There’s a theologian named George Ladd and he says that the Kingdom breaks in to human history and it does, usually in steakhouses. And it was down in Texas, which is a great country and I was there with some pastors who were church planners in our Acts 29 Church Planning Network and we got done with this big pastors conference and ______ went to the, I think it was The Texas de Brazil Steakhouse. Never been to one. They don’t have them in Seattle because the Gospel hasn’t taken root but they’re coming. And you walk in and they gave us our own room and all of us, all the pastors are smoking big cigars, talking theology, hanging out. And here’s what they have. They have a guy, the waiter, dressed in all white. I mean, it’s totally Biblical. The guy’s in all white. And he has meat on a big skewer. All kinds of meat. Barbecue, filet mignon, chateaubriand. He has rib-eye, I mean, it’s so Biblical. He’s got all this meat on these huge skewers and they sit you down and they pour you this really good red wine, not white wine, red wine like Jesus made and you get to drink the red wine and hang out with your buddies and smoke cigars and then they give you a little card that’s red on one side and green on the other. It’s amazing. And green means, “I need more meat.” It’s awesome. And so this guy totally Biblical, white outfit dude, comes over with a skewer of meat, “Would you like chateaubriand?” Yes. And he puts it on, and he just cuts it right off. “Would you like more?” Yes! You’re crying. Yes. Yes, I would like more. And they will cut as much meat as you want. All different kinds of meats. And when you’re done, you’re ready to blow an artery and you need the defibrillator and an angioplasty, you flip it over to red and then they don’t bring you any more meat. And I was sitting there, thinking, “This is just like Heaven. This is just like Heaven. There’s great people who love Jesus. There’s wine. There’s meat. We’re all laughing. We’re listening to good music. We’re telling good stories. Nobody’s getting drunk. Nobody’s being a glutton. Nobody’s sinning. This, this is a practice occasion for the Kingdom of God.”
So here’s your – you know, I told the other services this, it’s probably too late – but you need to, you need to do some things this week as an obedient Christian. You need to go to those, you need to go to the meat store. And you need to get good meat, right? Good, good. Something good. A rib-eye, something good. You need to also then, go home and call all your friends and you need to go get good wine. Not wine in a box from Costco with a spigot. I mean, that’s like atheist, agnostic wine. We don’t drink that stuff. That’s for unbelievers. We don’t drink that. Call your friends, have them over and seriously drink wine and barbecue your meat, okay? And when you do, wear a white shirt, Biblical, be thinking Kingdom, and have one hand on the flipper over the grill and have one hand in the air as an act of adoration, praise and worship to the resurrected Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ, in gratitude and thanks. And I’m not even kidding, and have your friends over and when they say, “What are we doing?” Say, we are practicing for Heaven. That’s what we’re doing. You want some more meat? You want some more wine? You know? This is what the Kingdom of God is going to be like. See, that’s why when the weather gets nice, people barbecue, have wine and friends over. Deep down, they’re longing for Heaven. They just don’t know Jesus. They just don’t know Jesus.
He concludes with this. “Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’” So, now the Lord Jesus Christ wants me to invite you to the Fourth Meal today, the communion meal and to the Fifth Meal, the wedding supper of the Lamb in the end. You need to repent of your sin and trust in Jesus Christ. You need to turn your back on your old way of life and turn your face toward him. Do you love Jesus? Do you know Jesus? It was cool today. I met a lot of people to become Christians here recently. How about you? You and Jesus. That’s what’s it’s all about. Say, “But I had a church who burned me and I got a lotta bad thoughts about religion.” So does the Bible. What about Jesus? What about Jesus? If you’re a Christian, you repent of your sin and then you’re ready to partake of communion today. We give you time. We don’t pass communion elements. We don’t make you get up row by row, because we give you time to evaluate yourself, judge yourself, confess your sin, deal with Jesus in prayer. When you’re ready, you come forward to take communion. The body and blood of Jesus for you, publicly identifying yourself with him that you are a sinner, humble and repentant, and that he is your great God, Lord and Savior and it’s all about him. We give of our tithes and offerings. We sing and celebrate. We leave here to go love people because the whole world is watching.
And I’ll close with this. Paul told us that the whole world is watching. There’s 400,000 churches in America. The list just came out, said we’re the 22nd most influential in the country. We’re the only one in the Pacific Northwest multi-state region. We’re in one of the least church cities in the United States of America. The whole city is watching. The whole country is watching. To some degree, the whole world is watching. There’s this miracle going on in Seattle. A bunch of people are worshiping Jesus in a place where not a lotta people do. And what they’re wondering is is this just a bunch of young people on a real, you know, emotional trip or is Jesus really real? Does he really change lives? Is he really doing anything? Is Jesus really true and real? Skeptics are looking for rocks to throw, saying, “Oh, they’re just hypocrites. They’re not nice. They’re not humble. They’re not repentant. They’re just a bunch of fakers.” Other people are saying, “That looks like the real deal and I’m curious. And I wanna know more about Jesus.” It’s not just about you and I. It’s also about others, family, friends, coworkers, a city that is desperately lost. A world that is desperately lost. That are watching us and wondering, “Is Jesus real?” We need to be so sober-minded about such things. And so we invite you to communion but after you’ve repented of sin and felt the weight of what it means to be a Christian. And that, at this point, some of you will have massive theological questions for me. You’ll say, “I was raised Catholic and I was told transubstantiation, the elements become the literal body and blood of Christ and we crucify him every time we gather together, is that tr-?” No. Because Jesus died once for all sin. We don’t re-crucify Christ every week. Some people say, “I was raised in a church, we only took communion once or twice a month.” Well, that’s from Ulrich Zwingli, who said it was a memorial feast and therefore not to be done every week and that was part of the schism in the reformation. Some of you say, “But I’m from a Lutheran tradition. And Luther said that Jesus is really present with us in mysterious way when we partake of communion.” Great. I love Luther, I think he’s on to something.
At the end of the day, though, even some people will use the theology of communion to avoid confession of their own sin and examination of their own heart to argue about the issue, rather than just come to repentance. And so John Calvin said, “I don’t know, take communion. Some say this, some say this, some say this. Look. Take communion.” That was Calvin’s position. Repent of your sin, love Jesus, take communion. That’s what we call you to today. Don’t let anything else get in the way. Your weird, silly, theological arguments, blaming of other people, your self-righteousness, your pluralism, your degree, your hypocrisy, your blaming, your woundedness, your victimhood. Set it all aside. You and Jesus. Bottom line. You’re a sinner, you need him. He loves you. There is no remission of sin without his shed blood. It comes down to you and Jesus. And we would love for you to give yourself to Jesus and come up and take communion, get out of your seat, just like he got out of his grave for you and to partake of the body and blood of Jesus to celebrate and remember his loving affection for you and to just humble yourself and come to Christ. That’s it. That’s everything. And then people are watching to see if Jesus is real and your life will be what the Bible calls a living epistle. We’ve been reading a written epistle. Your life will then be a living epistle, where you are part of the demonstration of the truthfulness of Jesus to others who are observing your life. When you’re ready, you can come up for communion, those of you who are Christians who have searched your heart, judged yourself, examined yourself, repented of sin, given it to Jesus, placed your faith in him, turn your back on your old way of life, and set your face toward the Fifth Meal, the great party in the end. Thanks guys.
Father God, I thank you so much, so much, that after the first meal, you didn’t just walk away, but through the Passover, you prepared our hearts. At the Last Supper, you clarified how our sin was to be dealt with, through the body and blood of the crucifixion of Jesus. We thank you that for thousands of years, the church has gathered tougher for communion and we get to do that tonight as well as part of a great tradition. May it not be for us empty ritual. May it be living ritual. May it mean something. May it be about Jesus. May we be thinking of none other than him and may we be mindful of nothing less than our own sin that crucified him. And Jesus as we partake, we get out of our seats as you got out of your grave, and we partake to demonstrate our faith in you and your love for us and we long for that Fifth Meal and the world where the sun always shines and the sin never comes and the curse is lifted and death is no more and we all wear white and tears are no longer shed and funerals are no longer held and wars are no longer waged. That you are high and lifted up and we all gather around to sing your praises, to listen to your solo, to eat good meat, to drink good wine, to enjoy good friends forever. And so Jesus, we thank you for that last meal when all of the sin and affects of the First Meal are redeemed. We worship you in longing for that day, setting our faces and our hearts toward your table.