Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Aug 18 2013 - 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 – Proclaiming Christ’s death

The Lord’s Supper had been turned into a bun fight at Corinth. It would seem that the church met in the home or homes of some of the richer members. They would ensure that their friends arrived first and secured key places at their table. They would have quite a feast together, eating their fill and even getting a little tipsy while leaving little space and even less food and drink for the poorer members and slaves who arrived later. This, says Paul, is not the Lord’s Supper. Your meetings do more harm than good. The focus of the Lord’s Supper is to be on Christ’s sacrifice; he gave himself for others. You cannot celebrate Christ’s death in a selfish manner. Neither can you remember his broken body and shed blood while neglecting your fellow Christians, failing to recognise that they too are the body of Christ.

It’s easy for us to recognise the abuses going on at Corinth and to join Paul in passing judgment upon them. But are there times when we are guilty of similar abuses? Have we been guilty of seeking to celebrate Christ and his sacrifice for us while neglecting some of our brothers and sisters in Christ? Have we broken bread while continuing to break his body? Have some of our meetings done more harm than good?

Our celebration of the Lord’s Supper is to “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). By it we proclaim to ourselves and to one another that Christ died to bring us to God. By taking the bread and eating it together we celebrate that we have a part in his sacrificial death – he died for us, each one of us. By drinking the wine together we know that he shed his blood for us, each one of us, and that through his shed blood he has sealed for all eternity the covenant by which God has bound himself to us and us to him. And we do all of this in anticipation of the day when Christ shall return and we shall feast together with him at the great marriage supper of the Lamb. It is an anticipation of the age to come.

But there is even more to it than this. We not only proclaim these things to one another, we proclaim them to the world. We proclaim to the world that Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ shall come again not simply by celebrating communion together but by living the crucified and risen life together in communion with Christ – in active and demonstrable fellowship him. The Lord’s Supper is nothing but an empty ceremony if it is not reflected and lived out in our daily lives with one another and before the world: “it is not the Lord’s Supper that you eat” (11:20).

Let’s celebrate Christ’s sacrifice for us by eating the Lord’s Supper together, but let us celebrate it also by offering ourselves to him as living sacrifices and as servants to one another. Let’s take care to “discern the body of Christ” and to make it visible to the world around us as we “proclaim his death until he comes.”

Lord Jesus, you loved me and gave yourself for me. Help me to love you in return and to love each one of your people as you have loved them – as you have loved me. And Lord, we pray for your church which is so often troubled by divisive arguments and conduct. Forgive us Lord. Rob us of our pride and help us to live as those who have died to all that this world holds dear and who live only to you and to make known your dying love and risen power.

Peter Misselbrook