International Sunday School Lesson for November 26, 2017
To celebrate in worship and our daily lives by remembering the redemptive life and death of Christ
Background: 1 Corinthians 11; Jude 3
1 Corinthians 11:23-34 (CEB)
23 I received a tradition from the Lord, which I also handed on to you: on the night on which he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread. 24 After giving thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this to remember me.” 25 He did the same thing with the cup, after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me.” 26 Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you broadcast the death of the Lord until he comes.
27 This is why those who eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord inappropriately will be guilty of the Lord’s body and blood. 28 Each individual should test himself or herself, and eat from the bread and drink from the cup in that way. 29 Those who eat and drink without correctly understanding the body are eating and drinking their own judgment. 30 Because of this, many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few have died. 31 But if we had judged ourselves, we wouldn’t be judged.
32 However, we are disciplined by the Lord when we are judged so that we won’t be judged and condemned along with the whole world. 33 For these reasons, my brothers and sisters, when you get together to eat, wait for each other. 34 If some of you are hungry, they should eat at home so that getting together doesn’t lead to judgment. I will give directions about the other things when I come.
This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me” (1 Corinthians 11:25)
As we conclude this quarter’s study of the covenant in the Bible, we hear the words of Paul, whose letters are the oldest documents in the New Testament. Paul, the converted Jew and dedicated apostle for Christ, was immersed in the Hebrew Scriptures, aware of the blessings and failures associated with God’s covenantal relationship with Israel, and passionate about God’s guarantee of that covenant with all those who have faith in Christ.
Paul knew the importance of “bread” as it related to the Old Testament. “Showbread” also was called “bread of the presence” because it was to be always in the Lord’s presence. The table and the bread were a picture of God’s willingness to fellowship and communion (literally speaking, sharing something in common) with man. It was like an invitation to share a meal, an extension of friendship. Eating together often is an act of fellowship. God was willing for man to enter into His presence to fellowship with Him, and this invitation was always open.
The “bread of presence” in the Old Testament is a type of Christ. It was there for the priest to eat every day, and Jesus encourages us to also eat the “bread of presence” every day in the prayer that He taught to His disciples. “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Jesus used it on the night he was betrayed, telling each of the disciples to eat, and in breaking the bread Jesus indicates His body will also be broken.
The wine was also a carryover from the O.T. Exodus 29:40 “With the first lamb, add one-tenth of a measure of the high-quality flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil from crushed olives and a quarter of a hin of wine for a drink offering. 41 With the second lamb offered at twilight, again include a grain offering and its drink offering as in the morning as a soothing smell, a gift offering for the Lord.” This was to be done also on a daily basis.
The new covenant between God and man, means we no longer have to sacrifice animals in order to gain access to God or to be forgiven. Jesus becomes not only the “bread of presence” or the wine offering, He becomes the Pascal Lamb. Jesus becomes all we need.
No wonder we celebrate this as often as we can, and with a somber note that recognizes our unworthiness. When we participate without self examination, we are guilty of partaking unworthily. When we partake while still hold grudges, or prejudices, we partake unworthily.
Paul understood the importance and significance of celebrating the Lord’s Supper. It was much harder for those within a congregation that had no Jewish background or training.
You can sense Paul’s frustration as he writes to this congregation. Today we have no excuse for not understanding the importance of this New Covenant.
My hymn for this week is “One Bread, One body.”