Wednesday, 19 November 2014
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 1 Corinthians 11:23
Because of the error of the gatherers at the observance of the Lord’s Supper, Paul now takes time to spell out the solemnity which the occasion deserves. And so he begins with, “For I received from the Lord.” This means with all certainty that Paul was told directly from the risen Christ about the events of the night before His crucifixion. This very well may have occurred while he was in Arabia (see Galatians 1:17) during a time of personal instruction because of his calling and commission as “the Apostle to the Gentiles.” The fact that the “I” is emphatic and singular shows that this was not passed to him by another, but by Christ Himself.
“That which I also delivered to you” indicates that he had already instructed the Corinthians on this matter when he was present with them. The letter he received told him that his words were not acted upon, and so the letter includes this instruction to be maintained as proper doctrine. If followed, error wouldn’t creep in again as it had. Unfortunately, even though we have the letter included in the Bible, error still creeps into this most solemn ceremony. However, correction is available by merely opening the Bible and reading it. How sad it is that this simple procedure is so enormously neglected or mishandled!
“That the Lord Jesus” is given to show believers that the ordinance was instituted by the Lord Himself. Further, it is exclusively of the Lord. He didn’t ask one of the disciples to conduct the affair for Him. Rather, the entire ordinance is of Him.
“On the same night in which He was betrayed” is an account which is recorded in various ways in the four gospels. However, the description which most closely follows Paul’s words here is that of Luke 22. With only a few minor variations, they match exactly. The only real differences are that Luke says “given for you” while Paul leaves out “given.” Also Luke omits, “This do, as often as you drink it ” after the giving of the cup. Despite this, they are implied in his words “in the same manner” during the giving of the bread.
Finally, it says He “took bread.” This was at the time of the Passover. In the law, the Passover requirements say this –
“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.” Exodus 12:18-20
The bread which was consumed at the Passover was unleavened; it had no yeast. In the Bible, yeast pictures sin. Just as leaven makes bread rise, so sin puffs up an individual. The bread itself was a picture of the sinless Bread of Life, Christ. Because of this, it is proper to present unleavened bread at the observance of the Lord’s Supper. This is not a legalistic addition to the rite, but rather it is what is proper and honoring to Christ. To use a common loaf of bread is to abuse the very picture which is being made in the ceremony.
Life application: Traditions are often one of the worst cancers in a church body. When a tradition is introduced and is elevated to the level of Scripture, then only a degradation of the sanctity of Scripture can occur. However, if a tradition finds its roots in Scripture, it is proper and honoring of God – who gave Scripture, that we follow through with the tradition. How much more important then is proper adherence to the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper! It is a tradition which is actually mandated by the Lord Himself.
How sweet and pleasant it is to come, O Lord, to Your table
To share in communion with You in the bread and cup
Yes, I will participate as often as I am able
And to have a time of reflection before we sup
I will think on You, my Lord, who died on that tree
I will think on the cross, where my sin was washed away
I will ponder the relation between You and me
And I will call to remembrance Your work; the price You did pay
Glory to You Lord, how You care for the sons of men
We will continue to fellowship at this table until You come again
Lord God Almighty, wondrous are Your ways and splendid are Your deeds. From Your hand came all things and to You they belong. Thank You for the life You have blessed us with. Thank You for the freedom to choose the path we take. And thank You for Jesus who washes away the error that comes as we walk on that path. Through Him, I praise You, now and forever! Amen.