Grace Baptist Church Decatur, IL

   

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Come To The Table

John 6; I Corinthians 10-11

 

 

On Thursday of this week we all had one thing in common:  we couldn’t wait to be told: “Come to the table!” This morning, Jesus has set the table and is inviting us, “Come to My Table.”

 

John 6:27         Jesus is speaking to a group which followed Him because He just fed them.  He points out the fact that there are better reasons to follow Him than just for a temporary fill.

 

Ill.—what do you call a stray dog that you give a little food to?  “Pet!”  You own him now!  He’ll stay right beside you.  But will he find more in you than that?  Will he find love and a place in the family, or will he be dropped off in a better neighborhood or fall victim to an unfortunate “accident”?

 

v. 31        They wanted the Lord to top that miracle.

 

v. 32-33   Their mouths are watering, they cannot wait…oh hurry, they said, licking their chops.  Don’t tease us…when will this bread get here?

 

v. 35        It is here!  You’re looking at it!

“Oh,” they said sadly.  “Really?”  What a let down they felt. 

 

v. 41-42   They aren’t thrilled with His claim, and they don’t believe.  They aren’t getting the picture here, but we must make sure WE understand:

 

v. 48-51   Jesus announces the main course, and it’s Him!  It’s a spiritual analogy, but they don’t get it.

 

v. 52        They’re thinking He’s like Dracula telling the young couple to come over because He’d like to ‘have them for dinner.’  Well, it’s not cannibalism Christ is advocating, it’s true Christianity, realizing His body and His blood are the real spiritual sustenance that will sustain a Christian life.

 

v. 53-58           It’s not very physically appetizing, but spiritually speaking, it’s the best eating you’ll ever experience.

Psalms 34:8
O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

Bread sustains life, and His body is the bread, so we must trust in the sacrifice made by that broken body.

Leviticus 17:11
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

Blood is life.  And when Jesus’ blood was shed, His life was being poured out, and all who kneel at the foot of that cross receive that life in a sin cleansing, life giving bath.  Are you washed in the blood?

 

They didn’t get it in Jesus day, but we do now!  It’s not about really eating that flesh and drinking that blood.  Jesus said these elements before us today are SYMBOLIC of His body and blood.  There’s no saving power in these elements, and none will be saved today by partaking.  This is a time of remembrance.  This is only for those who HAVE been saved by that sacrificial body and that redeeming blood, and want to obey the command to remember and be thankful.

 

But first, there are several things we need to bring to the table:

1. Before we sit down to a meal, we need clean hands. You don’t work in the garden or garage and then come inside, sit down, and eat dinner. You wash up first. This is why the Bible tells us to examine our lives before receiving Communion.

 

Turn to I Cor. 11:28

We may see something that needs to be confessed and cleaned up. When we were kids, we occasionally had to go to bed without supper because we did something bad. When we come to Jesus with remorse and repentance, we find forgiveness, restoration, and an invitation to His table. Some people get so burdened by their sins, that instead of asking forgiveness, they figure they’re too unworthy to participate, and they pass the tray without partaking. None of us are worthy, but if we’ve trusted Christ, we are eligible. He invites and authorizes us to come to the table.

Psalms 24:3-4
3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart…


2. Also before dining, we need a good appetite. What would happen if you were invited to someone’s house for dinner and an hour before the meal you ate a bag of chips, a Coke, and a package of Twinkies? After all this junk food, you’d have little appetite for the good stuff! Paul tells us, “you can’t drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you can’t have a part in both the Lord’s Table and the table of demons”

 

That’s in I Cor. 10:21, look at it:    God offers us a substantive meal—the Bread and Cup won’t fill us up physically, but they will satisfy our spiritual hunger. When we stuff ourselves with the junk food of sin we lose our appetite for the banquet God has prepared for us. We need to “taste and see” the satisfying goodness of the Lord (Psalm 34:8).

Dr. Leroy Creasy of Cornell University has identified a chemical in grapes that reduces the risk of heart disease. He reports in the Journal of Applied Cardiology that grape juice lowers cholesterol and cleanses the heart of life-threatening impurities. At the Lord’s Table grape juice represents the blood of Christ, which cleanses our spiritual hearts of sin’s deadly effects.

We are in the world, but we don’t have to be of the world. We are exposed to sin, but with God’s help we can resist temptation. Do we get an appetite for what God has for us, when we’ve been dwelling on things below, rather than things above? When our perspective is fixed on temporal things, we can get caught up in that which has no lasting value. Jesus promises, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” [Mt. 5]

What does Jesus mean when He says we’ll be “filled”? I think a lot of people live their lives on EMPTY. They go day-to-day without much purpose or meaning, and when they reach the end they wonder what the point was in living. They are starving spiritually. Well Jesus is what we’re truly hungry for, and good news—He’s inviting us to His table!

3. When we’re dining, we also need patience--time to enjoy the moment. We live in a fast food world, even at home, where we don’t take time to make the meal what it used to be.

 

Ill.—the chairs in places like McD’s and Burger King are designed so that people won’t get too comfortable, so they’ll eat, leave, and make room for more customers.

 

I have to admit, that sometimes I’ve looked at the clock, and after my sermon, I’ve sprinted through Communion. When we come to the Lord’s Table, our spiritual meal should be the focus of why we’re here.


4. We also need harmony at the meal table—it is important. I heard about a family who got together for a meal, and before long the table conversation got controversial. They started talking about current events, but the discussion slipped into political differences. Not everyone shared the same viewpoint, and the enjoyment of the meal got ruined as they argued. We can’t expect everyone in our congregation to agree on every issue, but we are expected to get along.

 

10:17       Paul makes a point of saying that “we are one body” and we “partake of the one bread.” Conflict, tension, disharmony, can all ruin a perfectly good meal. One thing we don’t bring to the table is divisiveness.  We don’t have to agree on absolutely everything, but rather focus on Christ. What unites us is greater than what divides us.

5. We need gratefulness for this meal. Jesus gave thanks, and so should we!

 

I saw an apron in a gift catalog that said: “Kiss the Cook”. Those who prepare meals appreciate being told that people enjoyed their meal.

 

When we come as a church to the Lord’s Table, we need to eat with gratitude, to not take it for granted. God provided manna, miraculous food, to the Jewish nation in the wilderness, and all they did was complain. We need to appreciate the cost of this meal. Jesus has prepared a meal for us that cost Him His life. We should appreciate how our deacons take the time to prepare and serve our Communion. Even more we should appreciate the sacrifice of our Savior; otherwise we miss the whole point of this meal!

6. We also need to come to God’s Table with loyalty. We avoid the competition. If your family owned a restaurant, you would come frequently, tell others about it, and you wouldn’t want to eat anywhere else. Paul is talking about how people try to eat at the devil’s table, yet also come to God’s. We serve a jealous God (vs 22), Who will not be replaced with substitutes. He demands our undivided loyalty. The Christians at Corinth were tempted to revert to the idolatrous practices of their former lives. Our partaking of Communion indicates that we are undivided in our commitment to Christ. He is our top priority; He has preeminence in our lives.

7.     We need to leave the Lord’s Table with purpose.  This is spiritual nourishment and strength for us…but strength for what?  God would have us to be energized for a purpose, and that is to serve Him with all our strength.  “Take it in, burn it up.”  But many Christians are content to sit back and get spiritually fat.  It’s like there’s a spiritual tryptophan in what they hear from their preacher that lulls them to sleep until they next time the bell rings and it’s time to eat again!

 

The best food and drink we could ever partake of is on the table, and we are invited to come and partake.  Let’s make sure and bring the right stuff with us, the right attitudes, and the right spirit, and let’s be prepared as we leave to prove and demonstrate the real spiritual strength and health we have by the way we serve and work for our Lord!

 

If you aren’t sure if you have been saved, or you know you are not, and you’d like to be, we want to give that opportunity.  Unlike the rest of us who will merely be remembering the body and blood of our Lord and how He saved us, YOU will truly be receiving the real thing if you come and be saved. 

 

10:16       This verse asks 2 rhetorical questions to which the answer is yes!  Gentlemen, please approach the table and prepare to serve the people.

 

11:26-31          Let’s all turn around and make an altar out of our seats at the table, and as you do, examine yourself, asking the Lord to examine you and show you any unconfessed sin in your life.  Then give thanks to the Lord for His body and blood, for your salvation as a result, and ask Him for strength for the journey of service ahead!

 

v. 23        Gentlemen, please pass the bread.

v. 24        Give thanks.

v. 25        Gentlemen, please pass the cup / Give thanks.

v. 26        Let’s join hands around this table now as we sing and dismiss.

 

[Some sermon material courtesy Allen Hern and Robert Leroe]

 


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