A Blessed Fellowship
A Blessed Fellowship
1. With Jesus
2. With each other
Text: 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
Have you ever wondered what it was like to live in the Garden of Eden? That must have been spectacular. No weeds. No sweat. No back pain or arthritis. No sadness. No stress. No calendars or appointments. No worms in your apples. No bills. No high priced gasoline. Only peace, perfection, and paradise.
But there’s one other aspect of the Garden of Eden that would have been fantastic. Perfect harmony and communion with God. Adam and Eve were created in God’s image. That means that they were perfect, righteous, and holy like God. What would it have been like to live in perfect peace with God? No fear of God because you had nothing to hide because you hadn’t done anything wrong. You knew his word and his will and you always kept them. If God showed himself and appeared, you wouldn’t run away because it was normal and perhaps even expected. You were in perfect harmony and fellowship and communion with God. What was there to be afraid of?
That’s hard for us to imagine, impossible to imagine even, because all we know is the exact opposite. All we know is fear of God and disharmony and disunity that come from shame and guilt.
I. It all changed right away in the Garden of Eden. As soon as Adam and Eve sinned, their relationship with God changed immediately. Do you remember the first thing Adam and Eve did when they sinned? They were ashamed because they were naked and they covered themselves up. Instant shame over who they were and what they were like. What was the next thing they did? They hid from God. Adam told God he heard him walking in the garden and hid because he was afraid.
That was only the beginning. From that point forward, mankind’s relationship with God would be different. Because there wasn’t perfect harmony, communion, or fellowship with God there was fear, and God needed to hide his full glory. Think of Jacob seeing the vision of the staircase reaching to heaven and exclaiming, “How awesome is this place!” Think of Moses seeing God in the burning bush and having to take off his sandals because it was holy ground. Think of God leading the Israelites out of Egypt as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Think of Mt. Sinai where the mountain was quaking and shaking and God told Moses no one could see his face and live and Moses had to cover the radiant glow of his face because even that was too much for the Israelites. Think of the glory of the Lord filling and overwhelming Solomon’s temple. Think of Jesus appearing to Saul (before he was Paul) on the road to Damascus and Saul fell to the ground in terror and ended up blind for three days. Think of John seeing a vision of God in heaven in Revelation and falling to the ground in fear and awe.
Ever since sin entered this world, our relationship with God has been different. It’s not a relationship of joy and happiness and peace and fellowship and unity. It’s a relationship of guilt and shame and fear because sinful humans know they shouldn’t be in the presence of a perfect God. So God couldn’t reveal himself and all his glory to humans. And yet even God’s hidden appearances—a burning bush, Mt. Sinai, a cloud of smoke—even those things are terrifying to humans!
Perhaps that message of an unapproachable holy God was communicated most clearly in God’s temple. The back room of the temple was called the Most Holy Place, or the Holy of Holies. It was sectioned off by a curtain and the ark of the covenant, the symbol of God’s presence was in that Most Holy Place. Yet even with only a symbol of God’s presence the one high priest was allowed to go in that room one time once a year. The message was clear. Sinful humans have no business being in the presence of a holy and perfect God.
All these Old Testament images are a good reminder how special Jesus is. We sinners could not approach or come near to God, so God came near to us. Jesus came to restore the relationship and the fellowship with God that Adam and Eve once had at the very beginning. Sinners are right to be afraid and expect punishment from a holy God, so Jesus came to take that punishment and pay that price for sin.
A remarkable thing happened when Jesus was on that cross. As Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” and completed our payment for sin, the curtain in the temple tore in half. The message again was very clear. Sinners now have access to a holy God. The barrier of sin is removed by Jesus Christ. Our relationship with God is restored. We have peace and harmony and fellowship with God once again. How is that possible? Because the blood of Jesus paid for all our sin and brought us forgiveness.
There is really no greater reminder of this in all the world than the special Meal that Jesus instituted and gave to us. We call it the Lord’s Supper. In this special Meal we remember what Jesus did, we receive the forgiveness that he won for us, and we relish the new relationship we have with God. Think of it—the very body and blood that Jesus gave as sacrifice and payment for sin he gives to us. It’s the ultimate assurance that we are forgiven. It’s the ultimate real and tangible sign of our restored relationship with God. As we come to God and confess our sins, he comes to us with his body and blood for forgiveness and strength. That’s why we call it Communion. We are coming together with God in fellowship and unity.
Here’s how the apostle Paul describes it in the second lesson this evening. 1 Corinthians 10:16, “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation of the body of Christ?” Jesus said, “This is my body . . . This is my blood.” Here you have another proof that Jesus’ true body and blood are present with the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper. In some miraculous and mysterious way we participate in the body and blood of Jesus Christ himself. It is a Communion with God that sinners don’t expect or deserve. But it is a Communion with God that is possible because of the body and blood of Jesus given in death for us.
What a wonderful foretaste of heaven we have in Communion. In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve had perfect fellowship and communion with God. Now we have just a little taste of what that is like again. But one day soon we will have perfect fellowship and communion with God again in heaven. There will be no guilt or fear or shame, only perfect peace and harmony with God once again. The Lord’s Supper is a special foreshadowing of that heavenly banquet to come.
So on this Maundy Thursday we give thanks for this precious Meal that Jesus gave us because it is A Blessed Fellowship with Jesus that we celebrate as we participate in his true body and blood and look forward to full communion with him in heaven. What A Blessed Fellowship with Jesus!
II. When sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden, our relationship with God was not the only thing ruined. Our relationship with other humans was ruined too. Imagine that aspect of paradise! No arguments. No fights. No husband and wife bickering. No disrespectful children. No violence. No wars.
But that also changed with sin. Now we offend, we hurt emotionally, we hurt physically, we hate, we avenge, we fight, we kill. Isn’t it awful, how ruined our human relationships are, that even with the people we love—friends, family, spouse, children, fellow believers—we still argue and fight and have strained relationships! Forget enemies and strangers, we have enough trouble getting along with family and friends!
These are sins that Jesus also came to pay for, and these are relationships that Jesus also came to restore. Some day in heaven we will never have these problems again. No more hate. No more anger. No more arguments. Only perfect peace and harmony and fellowship and communion with each other too.
What a blessing for us to have a little foretaste of that here on earth in the special Meal that Jesus gave to us. Look at what Paul says in the second verse this evening: “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” Just as there is one loaf, or you could say one united set of bread, in the Lord’s Supper, when we partake of it we are also one and united. In other words, in Communion not only do we have communion and fellowship with God (vertically), but we also have communion and fellowship with each other (horizontally).
Again, what a wonderful foretaste of heaven! Here we get to stand side by side as sinners who are equally laying our sins at Jesus’ feet and equally receiving his forgiveness. Here we get to stand side by side united in faith, united in hope, united in joy.
So on this Maundy Thursday we give thanks for this precious Meal that Jesus gave us because it is A Blessed Fellowship with each other that we also celebrate as we join together to receive this special meal and look forward to our perfect communion with each other in heaven. What A Blessed Fellowship with each other!
Concl. With a gift as precious as this holy Supper, we dare not ever take it lightly or treat it as something usual, common, or no big deal. That’s why we also are very careful with who receives this meal. We follow God’s guidance in Scripture and make sure that people are properly instructed before they receive this Supper. It’s not for any Joe Schmo off the street. This Meal is fellowship and communion with God, reception of Jesus’ very body and blood. We want to make sure that people properly understand that, believe that, and are repentant of their sins and ready to receive his body and blood. God tells us that those who do not properly receive or understand it will actually receive spiritual harm rather than benefit!
This Meal is also fellowship and communion with each other. We want to make sure that if we are going to express unity and oneness with each other that we are in fact united and one. If every random person came to Communion, as if it were some open and public buffet line, how could we possibly express unity with people that believe different things that we do?
These verses are a good reminder of the announcement in our service folder and the practice that God guides us in. We want people to be properly instructed and informed so that they properly understand and receive the miracle and mystery of this Meal.
And what blessed miracle and mystery it is! On this Maundy Thursday we watch as Jesus institutes this special Meal. How loving and caring and thoughtful of our God to do so! He has given to us a little foretaste, a little glimpse of what heaven will be like. In just a few minutes we will come together and have fellowship with God himself as we receive Jesus’ own body and blood for our forgiveness. In just a few minutes we will come together and have fellowship with one another, united in forgiveness and faith. It’s just a taste, just a glimpse of what heaven will be like when we have full and free communion with God and with each other forever.
Give thanks for this fellowship, enjoy this fellowship, and prepare for the blessed eternal fellowship—with God and with each other.
Posted on April 3, 2015, in Church, Sermons and tagged 1 Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 10, Church, Close Communion, Closed Communion, Communion, Fellowship, Forgiveness, Last Supper, Lord's Supper, Maundy Thursday, Means of Grace, Sermons, Upper Room. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.